The reverse Rorschach test

The Rorschach test is a psychological test where people are shown inkblots: amorphous blobs of colourful ink, symmetrically folded. What a person sees in the Rorschach test is thought to give an insight into their state of mind.

If you show me something symmetrical, folded and with flashes of pink, I tend to think of cunts. Experts in projective testing may draw their own conclusions about my psyche. I think it might be because most of them look like cunts. Never the flowers or butterflies one is meant to volunteer as a socially  desirable answer.

Yesterday, a friend of mine received this book as a birthday present. The book is entitled The Cunt Colouring Book. It does exactly as advertised. It presents a series of cunts: line drawings taken from photographs of real women, cunts in all shapes and sizes, showcasing the glorious variety of female genitals. The reader is encouraged to colour, with felt tips and crayons, to become acquainted with cunts.

We flicked through the pages, and found ourselves remarking on the cunts. “That one looks like a cabbage!” “That one looks like a flower!” “That one looks a bit like a KKK wizard!”

It was the Rorschach test, in reverse.

When presented with cunts, we saw anything but cunts.

When presented with an inkblot, I see a cunt.

I wonder why it is, when presented with a cunt, that our minds chose to process otherwise. Are we so uncomfortable with the form of a cunt that we see a cabbage instead?

I do not believe this. The book begins with a foreword: they were cordially asked to change the name of the book to something involving a word that is less frightening, less powerful, less intensive. They renamed it “LABIAFLOWERS”. It sold poorly. People did not want to be told that cunts looked like flowers.

Much of what we perceive is processed and spat out by our brains into something which we can interpret. We do not like to be told what we are seeing. We like to interpret.

If a cunt looks like a flower, we will choose to say that it looks like a flower.

As for the Cunt Colouring Book? Give it a go. See what you see.

A day in the life of a radical feminist lesbian separatist

This post follows 24 hours of viewing the world through my feminist lens, and the things I noticed that others may not notice.

I saw in International Women’s Day furious. I had tried to explain to a person on Twitter that perhaps they needed to re-examine their privilege and that they had used the word “slutty” in an offensive context. The person dismissed all of these concerns, all the while insisting that they were feminist and knew better. A friend of mine blocked the person over that as she was so upset and frustrated by the flagrant privilege denial and complete dismissal. Shortly after midnight, the person tweeted the following:

International Women’s Day coincides with Pancake Day. I think this means women are pancakes but I might have got confused.

How very feminist, minimising International Women’s Day. I replied to that effect. I got a sarcastic reply. I considered blocking the person, too, but decided instead that I will call them on their bullshit where I see it in the hope that one day they might just get a clue.

I woke up to glorious sunshine and beautiful messages of solidarity celebrating women all over Twitter. For just one glorious moment I felt as though perhaps there were finally enough people on our side to win this fight.

Then I read this. In short, the UK is attempting to water down legislation defining violence against women as a violation of human rights.  The anger prickled. How is violation of the rights of a human not violation of the rights of a human? Are women less than human?

After lunch (mortadella, mozarella and artichoke ciabatta, delicious) I was heartened again. Today has been a good day for feminist writing. As tweeter MediocreDave put it:

I am having a lovely afternoon sitting by a sun-lit window and reading feminist blogs. Can we have #IWD more often, please? 🙂

Precisely.

If only every day were about celebrating people.

While doing all of this, I was, of course, working. I work in one of the few areas of science that lacks the stark gender gradient: I work in psychology. My main supervisor is a woman, a brilliant woman. My office is teeming with smart, brilliant women. There is none of the age-old problem of “but women can’t analyse” here. We all deal in advanced statistics, and our genders are irrelevant. I am writing a paper. Four of the five authors are women. The stark gender gradient is hardly here at all. The sun streams through the window of my office, and I am happy to be here.

Another reason I like my office: we’re discussing female genital mutilation right now, and the politics of pubic hair, and bodily autonomy. At least two of my office-mates are feminists; the rest probably are but don’t know it yet.

It was a beautiful, glorious afternoon until I saw the news about Tahrir Square. Our Egyptian sisters marched to make themselves visible, to be included in deciding on the future of their country. They were greeted with thugs telling them that this was not an option. This reaction to women wishing to determine their own lives is global, it is entrenched. Where I see it, it is usually tweets or blog comments. The sarcastic “make me a cup of tea, love”; the furious “you’re wrong” with no elaboration; the feeble attempt to justify something which to me seems completely unjustifiable. In Egypt, it is bigger, it is more overt. It is all part of the same problem; and it strengthens my resolve to fight this wherever I see it.

I check Facebook periodically. Old school friends, barely remembered faces from the past comment on statuses relating to International Women’s Day with their hilariously ironic assertions that women should make sandwiches and react defensively when it is pointed out that this is not good form. Targeted ads, spotting my age and gender, try to sell me manicures and brazilian waxes. I prefer Twitter. Since I became a feminist, I’ve liked Facebook a lot less.

Today has been my first day of blogging, and my introduction to feminist blogging is much as I’d imagine. I have faced the kind of comments I expected: a mix of gratifying and head-smashingly frustrating. I talk to people about my experience. Those who see through the feminist lens understand perfectly. Those who do not, do not discuss the issue. To me, feminism is like a community of people who see the world in a similar way. We can come from anywhere, we can be any gender, any race. We see things that others don’t. We react differently.

Of course, we are not a homogenous of seething anti-patriarchy ire. We simply see what others cannot or will not.

For the evening, I fuck. It is good. I do not think of the politics surrounding sex: gendered power differences, consent, and on and on; I am too busy fucking.

So ends a day in the life of someone who has once been termed a radical feminist lesbian separatist. It was not a typical day. No day is truly typical.

That was my International Women’s Day.

“The way things are”: fight the status quo

I am a white, middle-class British woman, and my privilege is sticking right out as I write this. However, I wish to highlight that even for someone of my privileged status, feminism’s work is not yet done. On International Women’s Day, I send solidarity to my sisters all over the world. I will fight for them wherever I can.

Women in the UK have come a long way. Nominally, we’re equal now. Legally, we’re supposed to be equal now. What women lack is now invisible and counted by many as a gender essentialist ‘this is how things are’. Apparently, any residual inequality exists because men and women are fundamentally different and that women must have chosen differently.

Women are  severely under-represented in the sciences and engineering because our brains are better suited to empathy rather than analysis. There’s science to back that up, and everything!* It’s just the way things are.

Sex is something that is sold to women as part of a long game to please a man. Try typing “how to please” into Google. Autocomplete provides “how to please your man”, “how to please your man in bed”, “how to please your man sexually” and so on. Sex still isn’t really for women, or else we’d be sluts. It’s just the way things are.

The end game for sex is to get a ring on your finger. The end game is always marriage, evidenced by countless jokes and supposedly amusing t-shirts. It’s just the way things are.

Walking along a street while appearing female is enough to merit catcalls, overt sexual messages and unwanted touching. It’s supposed to be a compliment, we’re told. It’s just the way things are.

Some of my sisters from other countries in Europe tell me that British men are better. They’re more polite, apparently. There’s less groping and what they say is less sexually aggressive. As women, of course we should expect harassment, and British women are lucky that our brand of harassment is marginally less noxious. It’s just the way things are.

You might think I sound like some kind of angry radical feminist. That would be because I am some kind of angry radical feminist.

I refuse to accept “the way things are”. I want better. I think we women deserve better. I dream of the day where women are not objects, not punchlines, not walking wombs or disembodied tits. I want to bury, once and for all, that “the way things are” is as good as it will ever get. Women deserve better. Women deserve to be treated as people. Just people. Ordinary people who are not in any way different.

Perhaps some of the lack of fight against this status quo, the blind acceptance of “the way things are” lies in the fact that the word “feminist” is seen to be a dirty word: an irrational woman fighting an imaginary battle, when really she just hates men. Surely our work has been done, because we aren’t automatically packed off to the poorhouse if we can’t find a husband?

I don’t think our work is done. Discrimination has taken on a covert form, and we are sold the myth that this is what equality looks like.

That is not what equality looks like.

If you agree, you might just be an angry radical feminist, too.

*The “evidence” for this assertion is completely demolished in this rather fantastic book, which I would thoroughly recommend.