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How to be a Woman

Clementine Ford
Published: November 20, 2012 - 8:53AM

When it comes to the tricky practice of being a woman, there are certain known-knowns. We’re very concerned with having bouncy hair. We’re determined not to let our periods get in the way of our fondness for white trousers. Yoghurt makes us happy.

Unfortunately, being a woman isn’t all about achieving optimum shine and discovering the perfect g-string panty liner. The downside to experiencing a deep sense of satisfaction in the challenge of stain removal is all that other evolutionary malarkey that we have to contend with. For every boo-boo we manage to heal with a lovingly prepared glass of syrupy cordial, there’s a boo-boo we can’t fix on the insides of our own flawed genetic makeup. For your ongoing education, I present three of the most enduring myths sad truths about the Fairer Sex.

1. Sex as currency
The good thing about the internet is that it allows everyone to share their expertise as self-taught evolutionary biologists. Whenever you find yourself in a discussion about ‘how things are’, all you need to do is think very hard about your own conceptions of gender, assume the role of universal representative while writing them down and then add ‘something something biology’. I’ll give you an example:

“Everyone knows that women and men are wired differently when it comes to sex. Women have sex in order to get love. Men give love in order to have sex. Something something biology.”

The thing is, women don’t really like sex. Not in the same way as men, anyway. In fact, the only reason women would ever have sex with men is if they’re rewarding him for doing the dishes, or if they have low self-esteem. Women are just wired differently. Kind of like how the buttons on men’s and women’s clothes are on the opposite sides from each other. Women are like the faulty, fumbling buttons on the giant pair of pants worn by society. That’s why women should just put the man in the boat and watch as he paddles. Or to be more accurate, they should put the man in the boat and imagine him paddling, because everyone knows that women aren’t as visual as men. They need a narrative, a story. That’s why they all like 50 Shades of Grey. (Also, because stories about women are naff and not very challenging, and that’s why men don’t like to read them.)

Of course, none of this explains why women get so excited about shoes. But then, everyone knows women be cray.

2. Bitches be bitches
You might have been labouring under the delusion that the greatest threat to female security and equality under a patriarchy was, you know, the patriarchy. That a system which has historically oppressed women by denying them political voices, political representation, bodily autonomy, equal pay, economic independence, sexual equality, judicial respect, the right to not be abused, violated or beaten without judgment from the public, might just be the linchpin for why real equality has thus far failed to materialise.

Sadly, you would be wrong. Because the real reason women have failed to overthrow the patriarchy and be established as equal citizens is because their fiercest enemies lie within their own ranks - other women. Because women all hate each other, you see. They’re consumed by jealousy, competition and greed. Other women are always the first ones to tear each other down, with their vicious claws and their forked tongues. I know, because lots and lots - hundreds! - of men have explained it to me. And if there’s one group that are absolute experts on the complex relationships women form with each other, it’s the men who frequent internet message boards.

3. Fill 'er up
It was all very well and good in our twenties, when we flitted around thinking the days of wine and roses and fecundity would never end. We spent our days being picky and manipulating men into buying us drinks, never realising that there would come a time when the winsome charms of youth would give way to passive aggression and the midnight trawling of internet dating sites, and our comeuppance would be complete. Our determination to delay marriage for so long (why, at one point I was batting back two, three proposals a minute, so copious were the opportunities being presented to me in the drunken circus of my twenties) has seen us emerge, sullen faced and fat, into the wasteland of our thirties with nary a baby daddy in sight. If only someone had warned us against the folly of pursuing career and happiness over the casual vacancies of our now-bereft wombs! 

Alas, here we find ourselves, desperate and dateless and beyond help, drowning our sorrows in the bloated silver bladders of the box Chardonnay we’ve shoved under our dresses to mimic the miracle of life (for we all of us want babies, even the ones who don't. How else will we know what it feels like to really experience the depth and breadth of life as a woman?) And we only have ourselves to blame. It is a truth universally acknowledged that a single woman over the age of 30 must be in want of a husband, any husband; but it is also a universally acknowledged truth that single women in their thirties are that way because their standards are too high, in that they would like to meet a man who bathes regularly, is gainfully employed and doesn’t spend his weekends researching the culinary habits of serial killers. Even lesbians

The fact remains that it's easier to enter the Kingdom of Heaven than it is for a single woman over the age of 30 to pass a camel through the eye of her needle - an apt analogy that manages to invoke both the barren wasteland of childless women's bodies and a more general sense that our wandering of the desert will be done with only the company of our own humps.

So you see, even leaving aside all the worrying about the cleanliness of our toilet bowls and the difference a swiffer head can make to our general experience of mopping the floor (marginally enjoyable, quite a lot of fun really! K-MART LEVELS OF MUM EXCITEMENT!), it is very difficult to be a gal. Because everyone knows that men and women are different, and they want and need different things. Men conquer the world, women like feeding all the children in the neighbourhood. 

And I know it's true because loads of books have even said that, because men have a cave while women use tears to control men’s balls something something biology.

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