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Feeling a bit mutinous today.
I cannot help feeling that we females have drawn the short straw, physiologically speaking.
I seem to cycle from feeling rather fabulous, to feeling like the back end of a broken horse on a regular basis – a cycle that I guess, on closer inspection, would probably be roughly monthly.
Here is much-abridged list of the crap things about being a woman:
1. Having to wear high heels. If you’re short, like me, and married to a VERY tall man, you have to wear heels, even in the house. Otherwise I’m talking to his navel.
2. Having to wear makeup if you don’t want to make random toddlers cry when you’re out and about.
3. Having people assume you’re rubbish at driving when you’re not.
4. Having a hopeless sense of direction, however.
5. Being deemed too large to bare my belly in my 20s. Being too stretchmarked to bare my belly in my 30s. Being a bit too mutton to bare my belly in my 40s. (Why do you think I live HERE in the UK?? No belly-baring necessary…though try telling the locals that.)
6. Needing to sleep until about 10.30am in order to feel remotely human.
7. Being at the mercy of your hormones until you die.
8. Having to carry a handbag that weighs roughly the same as a large dog. And then ALSO having to carry your family’s bits and pieces too, whilst being expected to produce tissues, plasters, safety pins and sellotape at the drop of a hat.
9. Being expected to look smart in a strapless dress at posh events, when you’re freezing and you’d rather be wearing fleece pyjamas.
10. Being described as ‘feisty’ or ‘unusually intelligent’ if you have an opinion on politics, science or philosophy.
11. Pregnancy, labour, birth, and postnatal depression.
12. Periods. Period.
Don’t get all huffy and offended if you disagree with me. This is just my point of view, from where I stand in my shoes. My very high heeled, pinchy shoes.
#11 is the big one, though.
#11 is the one that I STILL feel resentful about - over a decade later.
I look back at my first birth – an underwhelming experience, in terms of the ‘care’ I received. After I laboured for many hours, and produced a huge baby in the middle of the night, Hubby was packed off home, where he got a good night’s sleep in a comfortable kingsize bed all to himself (ooh! I’m still fuming), and I was shown to a single bed in a cramped ward, already occupied with crying babies and crying new mothers. My baby was swaddled and dumped unceremoniously next to me in a bassinet, and I was left to my own devices.
I almost shouted after the nurse, “You can’t leave me here! You can’t trust me with this…this BABY. I’ve never even HELD a baby before! I don’t know what I’m doing, and I’m tired! Don’t leeeeave meeeee!”
He cried on and off during the night, and I didn’t get a single minute of sleep. After labouring for hours and hours, and turning myself inside out, and literally ruining my body for ever??
No one told me what to do in the morning. I felt as if my insides would fall out if I tried to stand up, so I lay in bed waiting for someone to come and talk to me. I waited for hours.
By the time someone finally came over to my bed, apparently breakfast was over.
“You were supposed to go to the dining hall, pushing your baby with you, if you wanted something to eat,” she snapped crossly.
So. After labouring for hours, pushing out a baby, and then getting not a wink of sleep, I also didn’t get any breakfast either.
Very, VERY shabby.
The second experience with baby number 2 was even worse, because I was sent home whilst still dangerously anaemic.
Why are women expected to function normally after such trauma?? Not only function normally, but achieve MORE than normal, in fact – breastfeed, for example. Easy, right? Release a bosom, wave the baby in vicinity of the bosom, it feeds. Right?
Wrong. It isn’t easy. It’s physically and psychologically challenging, the demand is never-ending, and the sense of responsibility is crushing. It hurts like daggers if you get it wrong. It hurts even when you get it right. And if you ever have the misfortune of having to feed your baby when you have mastitis, then you have been to hell and back.
Some women never manage it, and are made to feel like failures - and whether you breastfed or not, your body will have changed irrevocably by the time your baby is weaned. Fair? I don’t think so.
I will never have a full pension, because I had the audacity to stay at home and look after my own children, rather than earn just enough to pay someone else to do it.
If I stay at home when Hubby is out, then that’s just expected. If Hubby stays at home when I’m out, then he’s ‘babysitting’ and ‘isn’t he good?’ (*Other people’s comments – not his)
Billions of women are powerless, while a bunch of men sit in a room and decide what we can do with our bodies, decide whether sanitary products are ‘luxury’ items, and decide whether abortions should be punished (not the men, of course. Just the women).
I never used to feel angry about being a woman. But now that I have a daughter, and I’m desperate for her to grow up in a world where she isn’t going to be thwarted by a glass ceiling; where her self-worth is not dependent on her appearance; where she can be proud of her skills and demand to be heard; I realise that a little anger is a good thing – a steady flame with enough heat to remind me to fight for what is right, and ensure that I never accept injustice with a bowed head.