The Lady Garden

Tea and Strumpets

Monthly Archives: February 2013

Not so sharp, Akshually

“We’d cover cripples, left-handers and all the rest of it.”

Seven o’clock isn’t a particularly important time slot to me, darlings, as it’s the time of day I generally get out of bed and have my breakfast champagne. But I understand it’s something that some people get a bit exercised over.

So, I sat down one night to watch this flash new Seven Sharp programme. I thought it might be interesting. I wasn’t expecting to start the day so angry I was shaking.

Let’s talk about women in the workplace, they thought. Let’s do a fine, if glib, piece about women on boards. We won’t talk about the gender pay gap. We won’t talk about work-life balance, or any of the things that are important in terms of getting, and keeping, women in the workforce. But it will be tongue in cheek, and a bit irreverent, and everything will be fine, if hardly ground-breaking.

So….then what should we do? We should get an expert on. Someone who can talk about women in the workplace. Maybe one of the unions? No, not controversial enough. Hey, this chick might know what she’s talking about? No, too…well, expert. And a woman. No one trusts those.

No, let’s get someone guaranteed to give us a good soundbite. Someone whose misogyny, homophobia and general hatred of people he doesn’t like is legend. It won’t add anything to the debate, it’ll allow him to call our host, one of New Zealand’s most experienced broadcasters, “the token female”. Why bother to actually cover a story, an important issue, when we can stir up some outrage?

And hey, in their defence, it worked. I am outraged. Couple of things, Sir Bob. There’s a myriad of reasons women don’t want to stay on after five, many of which involve childcare, and the fact that that’s how many hours they are PAID FOR. But also, it’s entirely possible they don’t want to stay on and have a drink because you are such a raging asshole. This country is dominated by women in politics? That’s why women make up only 32%of the house, and only 6 women in cabinet. COOL STORY BRO.

And then there’s this. Thanks Seven Sharp. You’ve freed up a whole half hour in the evening for me!

Don’t panic everyone. I still know. I just don’t give a shit.

This morning, I was noodling around on Tumblr, thinking about this post, and how I was having trouble figuring out what I wanted to say, when I saw a comment fat-shaming a manatee. A fucking manatee. And I realised what it was that I wanted to say.


It’s a year since I wrote this post. I was in a pretty horrible place then, and writing all that shit down didn’t help. Your comments and tweets and emails did, but even with that, it was a few days before I even felt up to leaving the house, and weeks before I felt like I could be myself again. I’m glad I wrote it, but darlings, that piece hurt.

A lot can change in a year, though. A lot. Everything. In thinking about how I wanted to re-write that post, I asked Twitter to talk to me about your bodies. And what you told me is that you love your body – in private and with the people that you love. You love it for what it can do, for its strength and capacities. But the world hates it, and you hate that the world hates it. Or, you hate it, but you still feel like you deserve respect and care and love anyway. Or, you hate it, and you try to hide it, and the world has taught you that it is your responsibility to hide it because your fleshsack is disgusting and unsightly and ungainly, and no one should suffer the indignity of having to look at it. Because Eeeew.

Darlings? FUCK THAT SHIT. And fuck everyone who has ever made us feel that way.

Here’s what I know now.

My body is capable of great things. Of incredible pleasure and immense pain, and a gamut of sensations in between. The world hates my body, and wants me to feel bad about myself because of it. And it is so easy to fall into that trap, so much easier than fighting it. To hide, and cover up, and not force the world to embrace my pasty ass. And hey, I’m fat, so I’m inherently lazy, right?

No. Walking the street in my body is an act of defiance. Wearing togs in public is an act of incredible strength. I’m Joan of fucking Arc in an tight dress. OK, I’m not, because beheading makes me squeamish and my French is schoolgirl at best these days, but I’m someone awesome.

And I’m not someone awesome in spite of my body. I inhabit it, I feed it, I feel it move. My stomach is as much a part of me as my ability to quip. And I am going to love it, even as a multi-billion dollar industry tells me every minute of every day not to. Because I am smarter than them, and I don’t care about their profit margins and their messages about perfection. Perfection is dull, and I am as cute as all hell, and anyone who thinks different isn’t worth my time.

So, my darlings, what can I tell you? Pour yourself a bourbon, or your self-medication of choice, and think about this. If you’re fat, or thin, or bald, or whatever way you fall outside the beauty norm, take heart. If you left the house today, you were brave, and you deserve a pat on the back. Your body is beautiful. Every body is beautiful. And you deserve better.

You deserve a world where your friends don’t tell fat jokes. Where ads implying you are unworthy of basic human dignity because of your size, or your hair colour, or your ugly hands, use that insecurity to sell you things. Where the fat girl in the movie is always a comic, and there are no fat men at all. You deserve a world where your health is a matter between you and your doctor and your loved ones, and not random strangers or well-meaning colleagues. Where people understand that the size of your thighs says nothing about the quality of your personhood.

I don’t know how to make that world, but I have to think that those tiny acts of defiance, of walking with our heads high and our chests out has to help. It’s not easy, and it’s not something I can ask of anyone, but it is something I am trying to do. Some days it takes all my chutzpah, but I am leaving the house, and saying Fuck The Haters, I like my short skirt, and if you don’t, you can kiss my ass.

I still feel all those things I felt last year. I still want to hide. I still want to curl into a ball and cry when I see the sandwiches scene at the end of Bridesmaids. But when we live in a world where some person can apologise for posting a photo of a manatee because it’s not “thinspo” we have work to do, and I am not going to waste time caring about people who are so shallow they think the size of my ass matters at all.

Sharing the love

Things we liked, or didn’t like, from around the internet this week:

Via Atheist Pinko Sluts, a refreshingly sane article on the myth of sex addiction:

In thirty-one years as a sex therapist, marriage counselor, and psychotherapist, I’ve never seen sex addiction. I’ve heard about virtually every sexual variation, obsession, fantasy, trauma, and involvement with sex workers, but I’ve never seen sex addiction.

From Penguin Unearthed, The efficient frontier of shoes

All bodies are beautiful. Right?

Haters gonna hate. Here’s how not to care.

On gendered language and talking about sexual violence.

Fat acceptance and the problem of health.

In the Sydney Morning Herald today: The great sex swindle: “There is little evidence of real differences between the male and female brains…”

Something extraordinary which a friend of Deb’s shared on Facebook – a murmuration of starlings.

‘Though perhaps it wouldn’t seem quite so beautiful if it didn’t have Pachelbel’s Canon playing in the background. What if it had creepy music from a horror movie instead?

And that’s it from me (Deb). I’m signing off from The Lady Garden, for work related reasons. Many thanks for Emma and Tallulah and Coley for their company: I’ve loved working with you. Also drinking with you from time to time. Ka kite ano.