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312 pages, Paperback
First published June 16, 2011
"These tight, elasticated partitions across the mid-derriere are, in terms of both comfort and aesthetics, as cruel as the partition between India and Pakistan."
"...one misguidedly thinking that (Katie) Price is a good businesswoman - despite the fact that she has to rope her kids into her business to make money: something I always associate with desperate Third World families.."
M: How was promoting your book in the US? Did they understand How to be a Woman?
C: It was tricky because many of the programs that you would go on, or interviews that you do, someone would take you aside and say “Well we’re kinda not allowed to say the word ‘vagina’ in America at the moment.”
C: It’s weird there. And you’d realise… like in the same way that we don’t have policemen with guns in the UK and then you go to America and the policemen have guns. And often you can be in a state where there’s the death penalty and…
M: Not for saying vagina, surely.
C: Yep! They kill you for saying vagina [laughs]. And then in the same way that you know, here (in Britain) we have contraception and abortion and then you go there (the US) and there are people that genuinely believe in Heaven and Hell and Satan and there are states where all sex is illegal and they’re trying to take back the right to abortion or the right to contraception.
And it’s a lot scarier, it’s like going back in the past or something. It’s like travelling two hundred, a hundred years back and I feel quite vulnerable as a woman there because there are things that you can just toss off in a conversation here that people take for granted but you have to take people step-by-step through it in America in terms of feminism.
M: Like the fact that you’ve written about your abortion and things like that: you just can’t just go on The View and chat about that, can you.
C: It’s got to the point now where when I’m doing interviews with people, and I know they’re about to talk about abortion, because they do this sort of sympathetic head and they go “of course you wrote very meaningfully about your abortion” and I always have to stop myself laughing when they do it. Not that I’m laughing at abortion, it’s just because that’s what everyone feels they have to do when we talk about it.
So yeah, it was weird going there and having to basically justify feminism again in a way I never had to in this country or in any other places. Italy seems to be troubled as well, judging from the interviews that I’ve done. You get female interviewers who really need you, who are desperate for you to take them through, step-by-step, through why women should be equal to men, and why access to abortion should be a right. They need you to do that because that conversation has still not happened there. Women still haven’t been proven equal to men in Italy as far as I’m aware.
M: There was a very tragic case in Melbourne recently, about an Irish girl who was walking home from a bar, and who was married and lived 800 metres from a bar, and was walking home and was just randomly abducted and raped and murdered. And it’s really been one of those watershed moments for the whole country.
There have been peace marches, and reclaim the night marches, because it is that thing that we all fear, a woman walking alone, randomly taken from the streets, and it’s really divided a lot of women. Because there have been those who have said, “don’t blame the victim, we need to be free to walk the streets at any time, it’s men who need to be taught not to rape and murder.”
And of course it should never be about victim blaming but I worry about the idea of saying to women “don’t change your behaviour, this is not your problem!”. I feel like that’s saying, ”You should be able to leave your car unlocked with the keys in the ignition, or leave your front door unlocked, and expect nobody to burgle you.”
C: Yes. It’s on that basis that I don’t wear high heels – other than I can’t walk in them – because when I’m lying in bed at night with my husband, I know there’s a woman coming who I could rape and murder, because I can hear her coming up the street in high heels, clack-clack -clack. And I can hear she’s on her own, I can hear what speed she’s coming at, I could plan where to stand to grab her or an ambush. And every time I hear her I think, “Fuck, you’re just alerting every fucking nutter to where you are now. And [that it’s a concern] that’s not right.
Society should be different. But while we’re waiting for society to change, there’s just certain things you have to do. But again the thing is, so many things you could do instead are predicated on having money. She could come out of a nightclub and get into a taxi, that would be the right thing to do.
No billionaire heiresses are ever abducted and raped and murdered, because they are just being put into a taxi or have their driver waiting around a corner for them.
Even the most ardent feminist historian...can't conceal that women have basically done fuck-all for the last 100,000 years. Come on -- let's admit it. Let's stop exhaustively pretending that there is a parallel history of women being victorious and creative, on an equal with men, that's just been comprehensively covered up by The Man. There isn't.
I can't believe that girls saying, "Actually, I'm paying my university fees by stripping" is seen as some kind of righteous, empowered, end-of-argument statement on the ultimate morality of these places...One doesn't want to be as blunt as to say, "Girls, get the fuck off the podium -- you're letting us all down," but: Girls, get the fuck off the podium -- you're letting us all down.
pole-dancing classes, on the other hand, are fine! I know! Who would have thought!...So long as women are doing it for fun -- because they want to, and they are in a place where they won't be misunderstood, and it seems ridiculous and amusing...then it's a simple open-and-shut case of carry on, girls. Feminism is behind you.
With burlesque, not only does the power balance rest with the person taking her clothes off...but it also anchors its heart in freaky, late-night, libertine self expression: it has a campy, tranny, fetish element to it.
And there it is. Intersectionality? She doesn't give a shit about it.