No winners when women turn on women
Generally, I like being a woman. The conversations are great; breasts are both useful and attractive, if I do say so myself; plus, we get to wear more interesting stuff than jeans and variations on the blue shirt. But, recently, I’ve been hankering for a gender opt-out. I’d like a day – actually, make that a week – of being a man.
From the outside, I’m sure it looks as if Girl World is all book clubs and mutual support, and long phone calls and caring, sharing emails. Which it is. Mostly. But while we weren’t watching, a serpent must have slithered into the Garden of Eve because, right now, us girls are in danger of critiquing ourselves to death.
There’s barely an issue that doesn’t polarise us: breast vs bottle, caesarean vs natural birth, tramp vs virgin, tiger mother vs western mother, Botox vs wrinkles, skinny vs fat, airbrushing vs real. And on it goes.
Do you ever hear men argue about their ‘elective’ vasectomies, or debate the merits of circumcised over uncircumcised? Nope, because they don’t. Live and let live, they say, then off they saunter to slay another bison.
Not us. In recent weeks, Private Practice star Kate Walsh dubbed herself – and, in effect, any other women who’d left it too late – a “loser” for failing to have children by the age of 43. Jackie O has been hounded off pedestrian crossings for having the temerity to feed her baby daughter. And the ‘too posh to push’ debate went mental again after statistics showed private hospitals perform more caesarean deliveries than public hospitals.
Add to that the seesawing gossip mag headlines showcasing ‘shock slim-downs’ one week and ‘body blowouts’ the next, and you have to wonder who’s driving these highly contrived catfights.
I used to think it was men. Like Kyle Sandilands salivating over a bunch of bikini models getting stuck into jelly wrestling (it so didn’t work on radio), male media executives undoubtedly used to light the fuse paper on these issues, then step back and watch us girls fire up. I was at work on the evening Elizabeth Hurley stepped out in her Versace ‘safety pin’ frock, and I recall the night editor rubbing his hands together as he dropped the photo into the front page. “This will get the claws out,” he chortled.
Now, though, we’re igniting ourselves.
A female editor chose to run the photo of Jackie O and, days later, the NSW Families Minister Pru Goward weighed in with the finger-wagging. It was a female TV presenter (Britain’s Kirsty Young) who said stay-at-home mothers feel like “non-persons”. And we’re the ones battling with our conscience and each other over birthing methods – not men. Sure, they may rally with the essential oils and the stress balls, but all they’re really thinking is, how can all this be my fault? Is there any chance of a cup of tea and a biscuit?
One of the best things about being a woman is the support we galvanise for each other. Yet all that bra burning and glass-ceiling smashing will be in vain if we continue to view every issue as a gladiatorial battle that must produce a winner and a loser. A friend of mine still hasn’t been able to tell another friend that she had an elective caesarean, so fearful is she of the silent condemnation. And if I go to another lunch where all that’s discussed is who has and who hasn’t had Botox, I may have to shoot myself in the head – with more than a needle.
I reckon it’s time we girls commandeered the barbecue. Leave the boys to the salads and let’s grill the steak, rather than each other.
Catch Angela Mollard on Weekend Today, Sundays at 7am on the Nine Network. Email email@example.com.
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