How To Look Good At Forty And Overthrow Your Government

We all know, because we’ve been told, that 40 ish is a difficult time for the smart lady about town.  You are not young.  You are so definitely not young!  Ha ha, you said young like it might apply to you, you are RIDICULOUS.  But also, you are not old.  Not really.  These days, 50 is the new 40, so essentially 40 is the new 30 and you are both 40 and 30 and you have gone back in time to warn your 30 year old self about the wtf is about to happen sometime around 2016, because 40 is the new 12 Monkeys.  I mean, you are basically 20.  Times have changed.  Fiona Bruce is 53 and she barely has to think about her age as a TV presenter.  It’s a pretty sweet deal for women now – they get to present programs with old things, so that they can place a tiny piece of their soul into every ancient artefact that they touch on the Antiques Roadshow and Fake or Fortune, like a Horcrux, making their human form immortal.  Then they are allowed to remain on TV.

Anyway, anyone who has read women’s magazines recently or looked at the internet with their eyes will know that 40 is great and older women are fierce and powerful, and they should also worry a lot more because their husbands are probably going to leave them.  It will be ok though, because then they can go on to run their own ethical business wearing a capsule wardrobe made entirely from inspiration.    The aim is to undermine the mechanisms of an oppressive patriarchal capitalist state (women’s magazines are so feminist and intersectional now! Go girrrrrl!), but also to look young, but not like you are trying to look young.  Never forget that the aim is to look effortlessly chic.  EFFORTLESSLY.  For Christ’s sake don’t look like things require effort.

Luckily, I am here to help your confused old lady brain decipher the cryptic clues of media and advertising aimed at women, with my handy How To Look Good At Forty guide.  You are *welcome*.


Looking at your old face is the main way that you know you are getting old.  If you aren’t sure what getting old looks like, because there is only Helen Mirren and that doesn’t look like you, then you can handily refer to the Boots No.7 Seven Signs of Aging.  If you haven’t seen them, here they are:

  1. Looking older
  2. Looking older
  3. Looking older
  4. Not giving a shit about looking older
  5. Enjoying looking older
  6. Not noticing that you are looking older
  7. Overthrowing your corrupt and unjust government

Your face says a lot about you.  Sometimes it says that shit out loud, even though we’ve been told, over and over again, that evidence based opinions make us sound fat.  They also give you mouth wrinkles of the mouth.  It’s almost like we’re not even listening any more!  Heads up, everyone, here are some things that will age your face:

  1. The sun
  2. Pollution
  3. Strictly Come Dancing It Takes Two
  4. Royal weddings
  5. Elon Musk

The beauty industry has so many products for the older woman, whose mind is literally unravelling at the prospect of no longer being able to seek validation based on her appearance, as she has been conditioned to do since childhood.  ‘Women are idiots!’ they think.  ‘They need help for their faces.’  So true.  But many items of make up are also unnecessary, so don’t get suckered into buying the latest fad like a thing that is called a serum that is made from crushed hopes and literally magic, you old ladies whose insecurities are manufactured over a lifetime and then mined for profit.  Women are idiots!  SO make sure you look good and buy the right stuff so men will know that you don’t give a shit about them.

Luckily, I have a go-to make up range for really making me look confident, almost as if I’ve lost weight.  Especially if I know I’m going to be photographed – even the most assured of us can feel nervous about appearing in front of the camera!  Or the judge!  It’s an organic range, called ‘camo paint’, and it works almost exactly like contouring.  Camo paint is very slimming.

NEVER rub your make up in, ladies.  Such a common mistake.  Sad!  Rubbing your make up in will cause you to rub off the woman suit you’ve been wearing and reveal the Many Breasted Bride Queen of the Underworld, Destroyer of Men underneath.  Pat your make up in.  With your fingertips – pat, pat, pat.  Sleep upside down, like a bat.  Do this, and your skin will carry on bouncing back, firmer, stronger, flexible – just like your career when you had to take 5 years off to be a mumtrepreneur.  Follow your dream, ladies!  During school hours!

All the same, a fair and impartial system has shown that women are not as good as men at being competitive in the workplace (science!), so some of us may not be earning quite so much.  Or anything at all!  So here is how to save money on make up:

  1. Imagine you are already wearing make up.
  2. Imagine your face looks nice. Imagine if we all did this.
  3. If sometimes you like to wear make up because you want to, you can also wear cheap make up that is pretty much the exact same thing as the very fucking expensive make up. You’d be amazed how many different brands are owned by the same people and made in the same factories, although they don’t really shout about it.    Be aware that every time you buy Chanel eyeshadow for your sad lady eyes at full price, somewhere a make-up industry executive sitting at a mahogany desk presses a button labelled ‘IDIOT WOMEN’ and is showered with cigars from a trap-door in the ceiling, which he lights with £50 notes.  YOUR £50 NOTES.  If you don’t like one of them, you can boycott their products.
  4. If you would like to wear make up because you want to and your skin colour is not something the rich and diverse beauty industry likes to associate itself with, you can go to mainstream shops where they have two foundation shades and some eyeshadow for you, or you can go elsewhere.
  5. Btw if you have children, remember that they are agents of the resistance for you to release at will onto the make up counter like winged fucking monkeys.


Do you have a fringe?  A fringe is cute.  Maybe you are 22!  And likeable!  The internet has made it very clear that after a certain age, the key to good hair is hiding as much of your face as possible so nobody notices that the unceasing passage of time is bringing you ever closer to your last fuckable day.  Nobody needs to see a strong, independent woman who doesn’t give a shit about her hair.  Grow your fringe longer.  No, longer than that.  Entwine it with your burgeoning chin and nose hair to make your very own balaclava.  Warm, practical, useful for maintaining an ID defence during a police interview.  Nobody likes a lady who talks too much in her shrill lady voice!  So go no comment under the advice of your legal representative!  And remember, frown lines make you look unapproachable.  Frowning while facing down Nazis makes you look unapproachable.  Smile!


Everyone dreads the ‘smart casual’ event.  But we should all remind ourselves that anyone who objects to you attending a school event smoking a cigar and toting a machine gun is probably just as worried about their own outfit.  ‘I love it when a plan comes together’ you will say, reaching for another tombola ticket at the Christmas fair prize draw.  Anyway, here are my suggestions for a practical yet chic approach to those tricky day to night looks:

The Wetsuit

Commonly associated with the summer months frolicking in the warm, sunlit waters of the British coastline, many women file the wetsuit under ‘fuck this’ before they have even had the chance to go on a self-catering holiday and throw themselves into the pounding Atlantic surf in an attempt to drown out the sound of their children’s voices.  And this is a shame, especially if your days of grunting while trying to take your clothes off in public toilets are now just a distant, mostly consensual memory.   There is a well known fashion saying: women over 30 should never miss an opportunity to assume a deep squat in a public place, and of course, this still holds true.  But a wetsuit is so much more than just something you can do lunges in next to a body board you rented from a 23 year old white man called Jed.  It is also fashion’s one truly absorbent, year round wardrobe staple.  The original onesie, it is designed to retain both heat and liquid, meaning you can save on heating bills and bathroom breaks – freeing up valuable time for burning your laundry in the street and fomenting civil unrest.  Not only this, but it can form an empowering under-layer for the busy woman who has moved beyond underwired bras, to a higher plane. This is a plane she might at any moment parachute from into the ocean, like James Bond but younger than Sean Connery in You Only Live Twice.  Try wearing one for a day around the house.  Really, try it.  I promise you will feel amazing.  Recommended.

The Boiler Suit

Are you HANDY?  Can you FIX SHIT?  Do you work in MAINTENANCE?  Are the things that you maintain called ‘relationships with friends and family and the unending list of domestic tasks’?   Would you like to be treated as if all the emotional, mental and unpaid labour you do is tough and important and should be shared equally?  Well don’t worry ladies – the boiler suit is for you.  Cheap, tough, all over you and hard to get out of, this is the Tinder date of leisure wear.  And it’s usually the boiler suits for men that are most easily available, so just like gender stereotypes – one size really does fit all.

But don’t be deterred by having to roll up your trouser legs like you are trying to sneak your tits into a Masonic lodge* (and I mean literally in your trouser legs if you have breastfed anything, ever).  This is a wipe-down outfit with pockets. Buy 5 of these** and you have a complete wardrobe. Underneath could be anything you like – vest tops, sexy underwear, your pyjamas, a cute dress, your pyjamas.  The point is, you won’t have to think about anything apart from which boiler suit you are going to wear.  Because you’ve got one hand in your pocket, and the other one’s smashing the patriarchy with a hammer that you keep in your other pocket.

*I have done this.  It was not as exciting as it sounds.

**I would recommend a boiler suit from Dickies, but other brands are available.


If you dread having to find clothes that say both ‘take me seriously’ and ‘don’t worry, I like men’ but also ‘this will not harm the case for the prosecution if I am sexually assaulted’ then you might want to consider taking a job where there is a uniform.  I have been dressed as a clown since 2014 for this very reason, and the accountancy firm I work for have openly applauded my easy up do and roomy yet professional trousers.  Bright colours are very slimming.  Of course this isn’t an option for everyone.

Equally, if you are a person who has produced a human being from your own body, then we all know that what follows is a time for you to take a few months out for adventure and self-discovery, to adjust to this huge transition while your partner takes care of the kids.  Parenting can prompt a lot of anxiety about our own mortality and it’s common to express this by dicking off for long periods of time and maybe tackling a risky creative project we’ve always fancied.  Or maybe having sex with someone much younger.  And who would mention even once that we are parents and should shelve that for a bit like the men in our lives have?! NOONE, GUYS!  THIS IS *OUR* TIME!  Anyway, what we got up to in Papua New Guinea that time was definitely not idiotic or racist. Well done if you got rescued by helicopter from a place where plenty of people live all the time!  Welcome back.  But what to wear?  And how to wear it on your body??

Here are a few simple rules for hassle free work chic:


So many ladies fret about ironing their beautiful work clothes, when really you can iron the hem of the stained maternity dress you are still wearing with hair straighteners – life hack!

You can iron out the ups and downs of your profound disappointment and exhaustion with rage supressing alcohol, hahaha gin for mummies is funny – life hack!

Upper arms

You know, we call them ‘Bat Wings’, which is a funny little joke between us girls because our arms are undead and will burst into flames upon exposure to sunlight.  Aged crone limbs need to be kept under wraps in the day guys, so we can release them at night to drink the blood of younger men, sapping their strength until we control the media.  Cosmopolitan magazine does not lie.


Who hasn’t put together a snappy little ensemble for a work Christmas party that says ‘Hey, I’m a young lady! Touch my knee!’ only to find innocent people who have wasted their time explaining things to you recoiling at the sight of your elderly knees.  This is not a safe time to be a man!  Because – that’s right – your knees were built on an ancient Viking burial site, and now the spirits of your ancestors won’t laugh at anyone’s informative anecdotes.  So what I’m saying is that if you really have to sit next to senior management at the annual office do, your wizened harlot spirit medium knees are always there if you need them, to ruin Jesus’ birthday with feminism from beyond the grave.


Play with accessories.  Play. With. Them.  Go on a lunch date with them.  Overshare.  Block them.  You are a ghost.  You are the Merciless Lord of the Accessories.  Your accessories will scare other accessories with stories about you.  You eat small accessories.   Ladies! BE the accessory you want to see in the world.  An accessory to crimes relating to the criminal damage of advertising in public spaces.  CCTV black spots are very slimming.


How does she look so slim?  Well, don’t tell the chaps – shapewear is our little secret.  That and the fact that we control the moon with our back fat.  My motto is Live Fast, Die Young While Out Walking Alone, Leave A Desirable Chalk Outline For the Forensics Team.  Chalk is very slimming.

Hiding your belly

This is a problem area for many women, especially after having babies, or killing and eating the bodies of the men who have wronged them.  Many successful working mothers keep theirs in their handbag, along with an all-purpose packet of wet wipes and their prolapsed uterus.  Pro-tip.


The centre piece of any outfit, many people will tell you that when it comes to shoes, less is more.  And I of course would reply that in fact it is fewer, not less.  I have been corrected on this point so many times that, let me tell you, it’s always a delight to hear it, however many shoes I have forcibly removed from the men who cannot stop correcting me and strung around my neck as trophies like I’m Colonel fucking Kurtz.


Peg leg trousers.  Leather leggings.  Bandeau tops.  Are these for you?  Well, you’ll have read a lot recently about the powerful, strong older woman who can do anything she damn well likes, so the answer is very clear: Absolutely not.

As we have all understood it, shopping in actual shops is supposed to be a segregated affair, with younger women corralled in places with loud music and shop assistants dressed in ripped irony.  Anyone over saaayy, 40, is directed to dimly lit scandi affairs, where everything is soft to the touch and there is only the Radio 2 playlist and Vaseline on the mirrors, like the set from a Fifty Shades of Grey film but with pictures of Dame Judi Dench where you least expect them.  (Exactly like the set of Fifty Shades of Grey).

Ideally, of course, women would shop at home.  Online.  Separately.  They wouldn’t get out there and get together in large groups at all.  Much is done to deter women of different age groups from mingling in person.  In Topshop and Urban Outfitters, the blast of hot air from above the door as you enter is in fact designed to mimic the symptoms of the menopause so that older women leave immediately to protect their shrivelled ovaries.  Those who linger too long in the entrance, confused by reflective spandex, are ushered kindly but firmly out of the building and into the nearest White Stuff outlet store, where somebody picks out an A-line mid-length skirt with drawings of boats on it saying ‘This is for you now’.

But don’t be deterred.  You have a job to do.  Since the public spaces in which we used to gather are increasingly taken up by sort of, maybe, don’t tell anyone definitely private spaces (with handy shops in), then I guess this is just where we are going to have to talk about dismantling the structures of power.  If you do make it past security, then here are some tips to avoid detection and alert any women who haven’t noticed yet that they are putting up with a lot of bullshit.

Firstly, play it cool.  Blend in.  Put your head through random holes in clothing as if you are subversive and not confused.  Roam the band t-shirts IN SILENCE.  Saying things like  ‘Songs about being a Nice Guy are a bullshit part of rape culture’ will trigger the XX to play on the in store speakers, and then, as you are old enough to remember that this is the music that David Cameron listens to during sexy times, you will have only seconds left to live.

Some shop assistants will see you flailing, red faced among the obviously uncomfortable heels and, mistaking your outrage for confusion, pick out some shoes and say ‘these shoes are very slimming’.  It’s important to make sure you maintain eye contact while you eat the shoes.

On busy days, try on new things in front of the mirrors in the middle of the store because if they don’t provide enough changing rooms then you will literally show them your ass.  On quiet days, try on new things in the changing rooms.  The staff won’t bother you in there, because they know you have visible pubic hair and they are afraid.    Stand in the changing room Hall of Mirrors, dressed mostly in gold listening for low self-esteem like the poorly lit Louis XIV of Unsolicited Life Advice.

You don’t even have to lock the doors until the end of your lecture on feminism and consumer culture, your very presence is enough.  Do not underestimate the power of seeing someone out there who gives no fucks, especially women, especially about their body.   If you are over 40, you’ve got a head start on this bullshit.  We’ve got a lot of work to do, and in 10 years it’s going to be my daughters in those changing rooms so let’s get in there and set some fucking examples.  Try on new things.  Love yourself, forget your body.

If you think that you are not strong enough, that change can only be great gestures, millions of people on the march, then think again:  10 years ago I saw a woman in a camo bikini and a gold helmet driving a quad bike down a red dirt coast track.  I didn’t know her.  She didn’t see me.  She passed me, standing by the side of the road, sweating into my long sleeved top that covered up my imaginary flaws, and I looked at her for maybe 30 seconds before she turned the corner.  I do not remember whether her body was beach ready or if she was fat or thin or whether her thighs had cellulite.  I only remember that somehow, somehow I knew that she gave no fucks.  And for 10 years now, every day, I have tried in some small way to be that woman.  On the school run, wiping arses, dancing at children’s parties, running, walking into meetings, I am wearing a camo bikini and a gold helmet on the inside.  There is no shop that can sell that to you.  No t-shirt with strong words on it made by companies run by white men.  We can only give it to each other.

So guys, hang out with other women, especially those who are at a different stage in their life to you. Soak it up.  Find some hope.  For better clothes, a better future.   Young people are amazing.  Many under 25’s are ripping it up right now, because they are as angry as you are, and they don’t have a mortgage and two kids.  They are not the apathetic, dumbed down economic cannon fodder the government hopes they are.  There is an army out there of highly educated digital natives on zero hours contracts, with no pensions, no free health care ahead of them, no hope of owning property, who have realised that their parents and grandparents, for whom most things were free and the rest was cheap have gone ahead and pulled that ladder right up behind them.  Their future has been driven off a cliff by people who are about to die soon anyway and they have absolutely nothing to lose.

They are activists, organisers, protesters, voters.  At an age when I was checking neither my privilege nor my non-existent email at the university I attended virtually for free, people now are organising cultural movements on a massive scale.  They are targeting policy makers, campaigning, marching, fighting for their reproductive rights like it’s the goddamn Handmaid’s Tale, making films about activism, making documentaries, reporting on injustice, changing the set text in education, in the workplace, in fashion and consumer behaviour.  I have seen discussions online between 19 year olds that make most mainstream political commentators look like fucking schoolchildren.  That is, assuming schoolchildren aren’t as woke as they actually are right now.

Youth-quake, Corbynistas, whatever sneery term is applied to them by the increasingly nervous mainstream press, know this: you spent your twenties waiting for a seat at the table.  These guys are going to spend their twenties picking up that seat and using it to smash the fucking table up.   And you get to watch them, you get to watch their back.   It may not be your first time being angry, outraged, passionate or tired, but ladies, this is the first time in history that we’ve gotten close enough to see the whites of their eyes.  This is the first time that when other people say that they are not just sick and tired, they are hopeful, we get to say Me Too.  And we must, because hope is contagious. It changes things we haven’t even thought about yet. If you don’t see it, if you think that this is all going to blow over, then you are not paying attention.

Women – whatever your goddamn age, the body politic is your bodies.  Your face, your hair, your skin, your age, your voice, your height, your weight, your clothes, your uterus – this is what we talk about when we talk about power.  The media knows it, they’ve been dressing it up and selling it back to you for decades, and now more than ever, so do you.  You don’t need to buy power, ladies.  You already own it.  So go, tell your stories, listen to theirs, come find me in my boiler suit in the spandex aisle, wear whatever the fuck you like and join the revolution.



I Threw Out All My Pants Today

I threw out all my pants today.

I did not like them anyway.

They were too tiny for my arse,

I’ve set my bottom free at last

It’s time to let my derriere

get loose and let it get some air

because, to tackle tasks with ease

your vulva needs a steady breeze.

Acrylic, nylon, polyester,

stuff that lets infections fester;

if it’s designed by blokes and chaps

it is not healthy for your flaps.

I do not know why anyone

would want to have a hungry bum

and spend, oh, twenty quid a go

on things that give you camel toe.

I’ve swapped my high leg, low rise lace,

my itchy guts, my squinty face,

for pants extending up my torso –

like a sturdy vest, but more so.

They come in packs of five, or triples,

they nestle underneath my nipples.

They are not made of see through netting,

they mop up when my boobs are sweating.

The question that we all should ask

is – Are these pants that multi-task?


Is it really underwear

if you can’t keep your keys in there?

I cannot run or dance or laugh

with my butt cheeks cut in half.

I cannot argue or clap back

with knickers half way up my crack

I can’t think clearly, I am edgy

when I have a giant wedgie.

These times are tough, resolve must harden

so be kind to your lady garden.

Be kind to yourself, full stop.

And let your body flow and flop

all over rigid patriarchy.

I’ve had it with this ‘should’ malarkey:

‘Should’ and ‘must’ can take a hike –

I’ll wear the fucking pants I like.

High Heels At Work Are Necessary and Here’s Why


Always wear stilettos at work. Be extra sexy by wearing them in your bra! Stand imposingly at windows. Rotate your entire body to point your 6 inch stiletto nipples at a colleague, and shout ‘GET ME THE NEW YORK OFFICE’.


Remember, confidence is key. Arrive at work in high heels! Arrive at work in giant sparkly high heels that fit 6 people and are hauled in by a forklift truck!

Take your high heeled shoes to the all you can eat buffet. Now you have three bowls. I HAVE POTATO WEDGES IN MY WEDGES hate the game, not the player my man.


Is that a question that’s actually a comment? That’s new! Use a high heeled shoe to tap out ‘this guy lol’ in morse code on your desk so nobody feels challenged.

Is someone talking to you about Game of Thrones? Really? Still? Interrupt by shouting ‘RING RING’ and pretending to talk into an espadrille. Mouth ‘sorry’ and move slowly away. Sorry your dragon programme was shit, Mark!

Use your kitten heels as collection boxes for Sandra’s card and leaving present. Best of luck in your new role as an assassin, Sandra! Enjoy your half-day spa voucher XOXO

DON’T FORGET stilettos make excellent:

Plant pots for your desk.

Snack pots with handy fruit kebab section


Wine bottle openers at 10.30am

Eye catching headphones

Puncture wounds


If you are staying in a hotel that requires it’s female staff to wear high heels, gently help management to make changes by leaving a trail of high heeled shoes from your room to the hotel lobby, where you have written the words ‘FUCK OFF’ in 10 foot letters on the floor. The letters are entirely made out of high heeled shoes! Nice touch, Karen 👌

How To Have A Beach Ready Body That Is Eight Feet Tall and Weighs 190 Pounds of Blind, Nightmarish Fury

It’s that time of year again when we all start to think about hitting the beach. But maintaining a Beach Ready Body can be hard work, especially all year round, right? Don’t panic if yours needs a little attention – I’ve compiled all my tips into one easy article, and it’s been published in McSweeneys. You can find it here.

Good luck ladies, and see you on the beach 🏖 💪 🐢

The Top Four Contenders For The Brand New You

1. The Brand New Yew
Nothing embodies dating in 2019 quite like being worshipped by Druids for your associations with death and the immortality of the soul. Attract a man who truly respects you, by being 70 ft tall and literally poisonous. Ensure nobody ever ghosts you again, by squatting ominously in British churchyards, warding off ghosts. Prospective dates should be aware that you live for 3000 years, your bushy midsection is a permanent feature, and restricting your personal growth will require an application in writing to the local authorities. It’s not me, it’s yew.

2. The Brand New Ewe
Don’t overthink things! Go for a natural feel this year. Add some moisturiser to your foundation for a fresh, dewy look. Wait until the spring to shave off your thick woollen pelt. You can climb every mountain *and* find balance in your life – with your can do attitude and specially adapted cloven hooves. 2019 is the year that veganism goes mainstream – all it takes is a little bit of planning and your four part, ruminant stomach. As you have always suspected, the amount of methane you produce is literally climate changing. Make the most of those scent glands just in front of your eyes! Happy New Year.

3. The Brand New Usual Suspects
Going for a promotion? Fend off imposter syndrome at work this year by attending interviews in character as a mysterious Turkish crime lord. Invest in some key power pieces for your wardrobe, like this season’s broad shouldered blazer, or Benicio Del Toro. If you are presenting your own ideas, remember to hold back and avoid seeming pushy. Try introducing them subliminally via a police evidence board with arrows pointing to pictures of you wielding a Kalashnikov while smoking a cigar, and a coffee mug with the word ‘likeable’ on it. Brighten up your desk with a framed police composite image of your own face. Encourage team building by giving out badges with names like ‘Steve’ and ‘Keyser Soze’ and arranging an away day on a ship manned by Argentinian drug dealers. You’ve got this!

4. The Brand New Eustace IV, Count of Boulogne

Diffuse family tension this year, by openly identifying as the eldest son of King Stephen of England and Countess Matilda I of Boulogne. Navigating relationships can be tricky, so set boundaries, mostly around land you seized from bishops who oppose your claim to the throne. If communication is difficult, end phone calls positively, but firmly, by announcing your intention to raid Normandy. Should political differences threaten to cause a permanent rift, try instituting a period known as ‘The Anarchy’ by arranging a bring and share supper three months in advance. Embrace your power! Don’t invite Henri of Anjou.


A spell for love.

I didn’t know what to get you for a wedding gift.
I weighed up some things, tried to choose carefully, but 
I couldn’t tell if it was best to buy a really nice vase or a
casserole dish to help you live your life together.  
Vases are good, I thought.  For flowers.  Flowers come and go, but
the vase is always there.  And dishes.  We all need dishes.
But then I thought – maybe that isn’t the right gift.  What if the dish breaks? Life is long, and involves a lot of casseroles and at the very least packet based macaroni cheese that is cooked in a casserole dish
because you haven’t done the washing up.
What if the vase is difficult to wrap up safe and gets cracked as you move, 
from one house, one chapter of your lives to another?
So I thought, maybe instead I should tell you all the things that I have learned from songs, and books and TV ads and bedtime stories about what love is.
Maybe that love is the answer, or all you need is love, or love is a many 
splendoured thing.
But somehow, since those weren’t my words, that didn’t seem like the right gift either.
For today is a party.  The very best, most marvellous party for the two most marvellous people.
Today is a day for a fairy tale.  Not one that involves spinning wheels and pricked fingers, where princes rescue damsels with kisses, and hands are there to be won.  
Today is a day for a better story.
And so, like a good fairy (all the best stories have a good fairy) the gift that I have brought for you is a spell.
This spell cannot make you beautiful, for you are that already.
And it cannot bring you riches, for magic does not work that way.  
But I can cast a spell for love, a love that stays by your side and gives you many happy days and lives forever, which, even if I say so myself, is probably better than a casserole dish.
Some people call this spell ‘matrimony’, and say it is not for everyone, and it has to be cast with their own special words, otherwise they won’t believe in it.
Others think that this magic called love is so powerful, so dangerous, that it can only be about owning things.  That it requires obeying, and registrars, and forms, and new identities.
But we know that this is not true.
For everybody here, we all know this spell.  We came together here today just for you, to cast it.  We put on our finest robes and rings and travelled from far away, each carrying with us all the pieces of our love, to give to you.
Some of us have brought in our hearts those quiet early mornings, and the way we hummed when we rocked you to sleep.
Every ‘sleep tight’ and ‘see you in the morning’ that we have ever said is in this room today.  
Every ‘I love you’ and ‘don’t give up, keep going’.
Some of us have brought that time we got up at four in the morning when it wasn’t our turn to change the baby’s nappy. 
Some of us have brought the ghosts of those whose names we have forgotten, but whose love lives on, in our bones and in our faces. 
Many of us carry with us, unnoticed, the powerful magic of finding lost car keys.  
Midnight texts, midsummer parties, mistletoe and New Year’s Eves, family that know us better than we know ourselves
friends that bring wine in a crisis and make us laugh until we can hardly breathe. 
A sprinkle of spreadsheets.  A pinch of familiar footsteps up the stairs. Hands that are for holding.  The sound of heartbeats.
This is how we cast a spell for love.
So, here are our special words:  love owns nothing.  It is everyone.  It does not break or crack.  It kisses grazed knees, it topples governments.
And you might forget about it – you might forget, when you are long married, what colour your tie was or whether the cheese was locally sourced, 
or whether someone said weird stuff about magic on your wedding day.
But you should know, that this spell will still be working.  Whether you are 35 or 60 or 102, love will be there.
In the day it will be the sun on your skin.
In the evening, it will be the fairy lights that stretch across the dark.
And when the sun goes down, you will know that love sleeps.  It only sleeps.  It does not die.  For love is magic, and you will have it forever, and this is true, for now I have cast the spell.
And, you two marvellous people, this is my gift to you.
Also, I’m sorry about the shit vase I bought.

The Women’s Conspiracy To Make Donald Trump The President of the United States of America

Hi guys.  Do you feel like this is a scary time for men right now? Does it feel like you can’t look at the news anymore without seeing someone you’ve loved for years accused of bigotry and sexual misconduct?  Is it like that Christmas with your uncle who lives in Canada now?  Is Morgan Freeman still the narrator voice for your inner monologue and you don’t know what to do about it?  Do you yearn for a more innocent time, and by innocent I mean never formally charged? Are you even afraid to explain how the term mansplaining is actually sexist?  Shit times, guys.  Shit times.

So I just wanted to tell you not to worry. Relax. Because, if you feel like there’s some sort of ‘conspiracy’ going on to ‘oppress men’, then I’m here to tell you that you can stop desperately tweeting at ladies, because you are absolutely 100% right about that.
It’s true. For years now I have been a member of an elite group of shadowy but powerful figures intent on bending governments to their will. Yes, of course the National Trust, because if there’s one thing subversive underground sects have in common it’s that they are ultimately subsumed by and perpetuate the class structures that they tried to overthrow, and also tea-towels with feminist quotes on them.

But there’s another one you are only dimly aware of.  A secret society, you could say. It’s small, maybe about 51% of all the people on earth.  It’s very secret! And hard to get into, so you’re going to need to know a guy. I’m joking of course! You’re going to need a badge that says ‘I HATE guys’ because that’s right! I’m talking about women!
You may have only heard rumours about ‘women’ and how they are winning right now, so here’s my handy guide to the dystopian hellscape currently heading your way:

Know Your Enemy
You may recognise women from funny things like ‘Women, Amirite?’ ‘Adorable British Single Women Who Say Fuck’, ‘That Woman On a Panel’ and ‘Meryl Streep’. But for a long time most of us were impossible to spot. We were masters of disguise. Some of us were unattractive to you! Like, the same age as you! Or older! Some of us had kids. And not the teenage kind that you might be able to date soon – the bad kind: small kids that make us unattractive to you. Hiding in plain sight, disguised beneath everyday objects like maternity leggings, or our own eyebrows, or the weight of society’s contradictory expectations, we were invisible.

So – what even IS a ‘woman’? It’s impossible to say. These are scary times.  New, strange symbols have appeared on toilet doors, indecipherable to men who, after all, are naturally better at jobs like computer coding, or applied physics. How are they supposed to understand words like ‘non-binary’? Or ‘equal’?  On top of all that, people literally tell you if they identify as a woman, it is very confusing.  It’s like we’ve done it on purpose to upset Joey from Friends. Talking of which, there’s a woman on Top Gear sometimes now and she’s hands down the best thing on it, so I know, I know: the world is totally fucked. It’s like women are just trying to be men these days – which is why they are standing in the front row watching the top bantz between Matt LeBlanc and Chris Harris: it’s so they can realistically imagine what it’s like to have testicles disappearing into their own body cavity.

Anyway, for a while there, we went by suggested names, like ‘love’ or ‘fucking lesbian communist cunts’, but it turns out you can’t call women anything these days because it takes so long to cross stitch onto scatter cushions. So, we had a quick read through of some of your original ideas over at the House of Commons (which is overwhelmingly female now) and in the end we had a vote on it and just went with ‘women.’

Sneaky Ladies
So how have ‘women’ managed to gain the upper hand so completely? Well, the society has been subtly raising it’s profile through some low key stuff like several thousand years of getting dicked on, a few hundred years of trying not to get dicked on but still getting fairly comprehensively dicked on, and 9 minutes and 40 seconds of Oprah Winfrey at the Golden Globes.  It’s been a ruthlessly efficient strategy, a master plan secretly passed down from mother to daughter for generations. Like the Illuminati, but with tits. The Illuminatitty. You can say what you like about those days but gosh darn it, women knew how to say no.  No THANK YOU, I mean! We were sneaky back then. Professional under-cover operatives.  Sleeper cells.  And we did some good work back in the day. Our achievements included:

1. Controlling the post-industrial capitalist political complex
2. Killing men because they won’t have sex with us
3. Killing a couple of men a week, most of whom were having sex with us
4. Nespresso

Just kidding! Too obvious. What we actually did was infiltrate the media, the government and Hollywood, and carefully control them from behind the scenes. Our plan was to make their behaviour so utterly, insanely reprehensible that sooner or later the uprising that would end the patriarchy would be inevitable.
And lo, as in ancient times it was written: one day it would come to pass that sparkly-eyed lady-slapping anti-semite Mel Gibson would play the sparkly-eyed dad in an actual movie in 2017 and across the surface of the earth, women would stop what they were doing, throw down their phones and decide that they had had quite enough of everybody’s bullshit.  Aha!  It was us all along! You’re welcome, sugar tits!

And boy, were we efficient. Because if there’s one thing women’s magazines have shown us, it’s how to make a weekday crockpot dinner out of leftovers, and organise a bloodless coup with scented candles, More magazine’s position of the fortnight and fast-running inter-galactic lizard queen Tom Cruise. (No, YOU can’t handle the truth). So you could say this group punches above its weight, which is probably why we weigh ourselves constantly. It also doesn’t punch anyone. If you see people not punching anyone on a regular basis, they may be a member.

But although all the clues are there, it remains so hard to tell.  So unfair!  Nothing is safe. Not even the stuff you got up to in the nineties. I mean, who doesn’t watch kids these days experimenting with double denim, or sex with unconscious women and think ‘I remember that from the first time it was cool.’  Only to discover that the whole time we’ve been walking amongst you, recording your every move with state of the art spyware like human lady eyes that see and human lady brains that remember, uploading to the mothership via a coded Whatsapp group called ‘Karen’s Hen Do’.
I have comrades who have spent years deep undercover at advertising agencies, disguised variously as executive assistants, the blue sky in the blue sky thinking room, and a mood board (current mood: Fuck Your Noguchi Coffee Table). They have worked tirelessly to create a false sense of security within the enemy camp: cologne ads that encourage men to smell like Johnny Depp when he’s just buried something (not a body! OK, maybe a body. He’s Captain Jack Sparrow!), and feminine hygiene products that encourage women to smell like nothing at all, because of course, if there’s one thing guaranteed to pique our interest, it’s the idea that douches require their own aisle.

Other women are still out there, living lives as double agents that are so dangerous, we are not allowed to show their faces . Some of us are real life investigative journalists, but we don’t even take our glasses off later so that everyone can finally notice us because we are beautiful now. No wonder you’re worried guys!  Nobody told you.  We’ve been keeping it under our hats, our many expensive lady hats. If you see these at weddings, it’s because we are signalling to each other, and may attack at any moment.

Like all secret societies made up of ruthless militants on the path to global dominance, we have an underground communications network and I know what you’re thinking – yes! It is BBC Radio 4’s Woman’s Hour!  John Humphrys on the Today programme is a decoy, gents! He’s paid by the BBC to interrupt people meaninglessly (so forceful!) and roll his eyes (it’s radio, John!) at the Windrush scandal or equal pay in his own organisation, because we want you to think that Serious Journalism sounds like the gentle self-deprecation of secure and unexamined white privilege in a country for old men.

But this is merely to detract attention from the blood sports going on on weekdays between 10 and 11am. Yes, I am talking about periods!  And I am also talking about Jane Garvey tearing a government minister a new arsehole before segueing seamlessly into an item on high waisted underwear. If you want to know what Serious Journalism sounds like, it is not Paxman, Peston and Marr, or any other treatment for your lady area, it is the sound of a group of women luring a Deputy Prime Minister into a studio with the promise of quick and easy lemon drizzle cake and then circling him with a fishnet and trident like fucking Wonder Woman. Humphrys may have the breakfast slot for now, but you know what they eat on woman’s hour?  Nick Clegg.  For brunch.

Recent Successes:
Now, I know what you’re going to say – but what about Trump? And that’s a strong point: Trump was an unexpectedly successful strategy of ours. A pleasant surprise! Of course, many, many women voted for Trump, and you were right, guys – finally, we can reveal that they were in fact feminist double-agents hell bent on destroying capitalism and white supremacy. Thank you for your service, Kellyanne Conway!  I mean, women already control Putin and the NRA, so it’s got our fingerprints all over it. There are unknowns, of course, and known unknowns, but also unknowing novice know-nothing no no’s that look like a one-man erectile dysfunction support group that just took Novichok for kicks. Covfefe.

Of course, in the future our defeated male minions won’t know who scorched the sky, but they will know that it was the women who finally ate dinner alone with feminazi Manchurian candidate Mike Pence, triggering him with the sentence ‘What’s your second cheapest bottle of rose?’ to administer a deadly nerve agent to the Commander in Chief. ‘Feminism has gone too far!’ people say. And of course what they are talking about when they say this is the women’s conspiracy to make Donald Trump the President of the United States of America, ushering in new age of female overlords

Stage Two: Control
So if I were you I’d take the blue pill, guys, because now it’s time for Stage Two in women’s unstoppable rise to tyranny. Time’s up on the sneaking around, quietly ruining lives. We’ve laid the groundwork and now we’re ready to ruin lives right out there in the open, like a feminist Woody Allen, and no one’s going to do shit about it, like a feminist Woody Allen.  We got a memo late in 2016 – you might not have seen it, there were…emails. There were some internal structural changes (and I’m not just talking about pelvic mesh implants, guys. WINK!). The tipping point is here. We’ve been waiting for the right moment to begin openly terrorising men with our oppressive demands, and that moment is now. Here they are:

1. Not getting sexually assaulted!
2. Shared parental leave!
3. Reproductive rights!
4. Poldark!
5. Not getting sexually assaulted like in actual eighteenth century Poldark!

So now everyone is going to have to be polite on public transport and think hard about what they say to co-workers. It’s the apocalypse, guys. It’s here. They are even teaching this shit in schools now – terrifying. It’s like The Breakfast Club, but now breakfast is ‘eggs that are no longer blamed for being over easy’ with a side order of ‘not touching anyone’s genitals without permission’.  Boooo!
I’m afraid all I can do now is pass on a few things to try to help you survive:

Men! How To Stay Safe – a Checklist:
1. Do you have an iPhone X? Check the packaging: it could be a 36 year old mother of two from Westbury-on-Trym.

2. Do NOT ask Alexa.

3. Are you receiving emails at work about a leaving card for Steve’s ‘paternity leave’? Are they from a woman? Are they in comic sans? This is no joke, guys. Steve isn’t coming back.

4. Are you at a tech conference? Is there someone wearing a badge, near her breasts? Look carefully. No, at the *badge*. Does it say ‘Hello, my name is: YOUR NEMESIS’? This could be code.

5. Are you watching a film? Is it about the most powerful, superhuman woman on Earth? Is she dating a white guy called Steve? You are being oppressed.

6. Are you watching Ghostbusters? Oh great, no that’s fi – wait. The lady Ghostbusters? That’s not Ghostbusters, that’s… *BALL*-busters, more like! Haaaa. That would have been a better name for it, bro. There, I said it. Hoooo! Well, anyway, look away, chaps, because the only ghost they catch in that film is the ghost of your boyhood innocence, crushed to death by lady jokes in a film made for children that you paid to go and see. It’s not even funny, dude. Women aren’t funny.

So that’s it dudebro’s. Now you know. If I were you, I would just keep your head down and lie low. Maybe that way, you won’t be overheard innocently referring to caring for your own children as ‘babysitting’ and be stoned to death, or drowned as witch, which is a new idea we just made up.  Keep wearing your old band t-shirts, and pray you can name every band member that is currently on the sex offenders register, because there will be questions.  Stick to cat-calling the under 12’s, who maybe don’t have phones with camera’s yet. Or better still, stick to trolling on the internet, and hope nobody finds you. Good luck guys! Good luck.

Things That Have Fallen Out Of My Nursing Bra Upon Removal For The Purpose Of Love-Making

1. Crumbs (miscellaneous)

2. Banana peel (contemporaneous)

3. TV remote (a small one, truly)

4. At least one breast (large, unruly)

5. A crayon (from Macdonald’s, green)

6. A biscuit that I had not seen

7. Every piece of information about my body and sexuality that I have internalised via the Cosmo Sex Quiz and the pervasive misogyny of a patriarchal, capitalist culture for over thirty years so far

8. A different, screwed up nursing bra.

How To Spell Revolution In 280 Characters

I love Twitter.  I adore it.  Social media more generally, of course, but especially rude, dirty old Twitter.  It’s not a popular opinion – so i’m going to explain it at tedious length here with swears and wank jokes, so buckle up because I’m a tired, under-caffeinated lady who barely understands the internet and I won’t be stopped.  So.  Here’s what I’ve learned:

If Not Giving A Fuck About Your Position Of Influence was a discipline taught to young ladies (what a fine idea), then Twitter would be a finishing school in the French Alps.   Much bemoaned as an idiot hole of pointless outrage by people who don’t know what this really means because have never tried to buy their children lunch at Waitrose Café on a Tuesday,  Twitter is in fact just like dating in your thirties:  people have a lot of pictures of their cats, you 100% do not need to shave your legs, and you will encounter a lot of people who really hate their ex and want to tell you about it in short, unintelligible sentences.  It is no accident that I joined Twitter around the same time that I started writing.  What a great writing exercise! I thought.  I like Princess Bride references that are only just relevant!  And I like words!  I like words like Cunt!  And Actually!  I like imagining better versions of Richard Curtis films!  The internet is the place for me.

Many people will tell you that social media is a scary, abusive place that upsets and silences women, because women are frail and emotional (unlike dudes on the internet).  And that maybe women should just…leave it well alone.  Because if there’s one thing we know about producing human beings from our bodies and raising them and being harrassed and being belittled and silenced at school, at home, on the street, in the workplace, in film and TV and books before we can even read them and every minute of our waking lives, it is that we are weak.  And that there is no way we are going to be able to handle that on the internet like a fucking pro.  I mean, what could be more whiney than calling out sexual harassment and speaking truth to power on an unprecedented scale? Omg, such victims.  Thank goodness for all the Nice Guys and Old White Feminists around after #MeToo went a bit too far for comfort saying ‘Enough whining now ladies! You are strong and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise! Go back to being strong. And also – shush!’.  They respect women.

Anyway, I’m not going to lie: social media is where rape culture not so much lurks, as dances across the floor to Blurred Lines before having a hand-shandy into the nearest pot plant.  If casual, sexualised abuse is a game, which of course for those dishing it out, it is, then Twitter is Ready Player One X Chromosome.   You may be surprised by this, and think it is a New Modern Thing.  If you are, you may be a straight, white man. Now I’m not saying that all people who are jerks on Twitter are straight white men and also Katie Hopkins (far from it), or that all straight white men are jerks, although, as with lots of thorny issues on gender, it’s fun to pretend to be confused about that.  It’s just that it’s no accident that straight white men seem to be the ones who are the most likely to make rape threats on the internet, the ones who are very likely to be doing this partly because they are very anxious to keep defining gender in terms of genitals and genetics (or defining it at all) and also the most likely to be surprised by this kind of heinous douchebaggery and the responses of those subjected to it.

But no one who has lived in the world as a woman is remotely surprised by the graphic nature, the white hot, hair-trigger ferocity of internet trolls.  If there’s one thing we really, really understand, it’s that lots of men are very fragile.  And that Toxic masculinity is very shit for everyone and that sucks.  Dudes are covering up a deep wellspring of anxiety and insecurity by going shirt-off apeshit about masculinity (btw – you keep using this word.  I do not think it means what you think it means) and maybe if you are really, really nice to them instead of being all busy dismantling the structures fucking them up, then you might be the one to make them better people!  Maybe they won’t be terrible at sex without realising , or at not hitting their partners, or (entirely unrelated) not shooting lots of people!  Maybe it’s your job to stop this, not theirs!

So, the abuse dished out by all the menz online only makes clear to us the things we already know from twenty first century documentary maker Margaret Atwood: Men are afraid that women will laugh at them, women are afraid that men will kill them, and that there are many, many men who equate being laughed at with being punched right in the face.  On Twitter the thought occurs that if women always responded to winks, unwanted conversations, upskirting, slaps, punches, gaslighting and the music of Ed Sheeran in the way that some men respond to not being taken seriously, what a radical turn of events that would be.

However, here’s the thing.  If the patriarchy is the Wizard of Oz, then social media platforms are the cranking levers and cogs, whirring away to make it seem all-powerful.  And guys, we see it.  Your privilege is showing, and I’ve got to say, it seems shorter in real life.  Social media is where we learn a new thing about power: That it isn’t men only fundraisers (just a bit of fun!) or a government or, more importantly, financial institutions with actually quite a few women in now.  (Look at those women, ladies!  That could be you!)  Power isn’t even ours for the taking – it is us.  Many, many, many of us, all at once.  We owned it this whole time, we understand it better than anyone and gosh, aren’t we good at using it.

For a long while there we knew, we all knew that being dicked on individually was fine.  I mean, gents, really.  Nothing to see here.  Call us a bitch for not smiling at you, and we are so used to it, we barely notice.  We keep our head down and shrug our shoulders because you know, the unbelievable consequences of calling that out.  Being shown pictures of your penis on the regular is meh.  Pfffff.  Ok.  But let us see you trying this every single fucking day on other women, other excellent women EVERYWHERE and bro, you went too far.  Y’all just threw a party over at the patriarchy palace in your fancy wigs and said ‘let them eat cake.’  I mean, I will definitely eat cake, but you just raised our consciousness, mate, so we are going to finish that cake and then tell @feminazihater34, otherwise known as Dave from accounts, to fuck off into the sun.    Every unthinking, off-hand piece of rudness, of brittle outrage and, every empty and not so empty threat – we see you all now, guys, and we see how you spell conspirasee.  It’s been a great help.  Thank you for your service.

And let’s not forget the What About Men men.  I mean, how could we forget them?  And they raise an important point – what about men?  I mean, feminists definitely hate them, we know this, and if the internet teaches us anything, it’s that feminists are fighting only for their daughters, not their kind, thoughtful,  sons.  They don’t look at the effects of a system that teaches boys to never show emotion, to never veer from the strict confines of masculinity and maleness, they don’t look at their boy and look ahead to playgrounds and locker rooms and a lifetime of brutal conformity and feel their hearts breaking.

So feminists are in no way standing by the side of the information superhighway with a high vis on and a loud hailer shouting ‘Dudes Who Want To Smash The Patriarchy – THIS WAY PLEASE’.  Never mind ‘No Cookies for Allies’, in the wake of #metoo the internet was full of feminist girl scouts, going door to door with trays of Rebecca Solnit articles and first year gender studies lecture notes and fistfuls of holla’s for men who commented enthusiastically about how although they don’t consciously participate in entrenched gender bias, they definitely benefit from it and will look out further reading and work to call it out among their peers in future.  And wow, we were INUNDATED!  You must have seen it, right?  We totally ran out of cookies.  In my house we have a weekly calendar for the distribution of labour – Tuesday: take out the bins, Wednesday: make some middle class whimsy for the World Book Day costume, Thursday: Overthrow the Government.

So we know that there a whole heap of guys on board and putting their shoulder to the wheel, putting their heads above the parapet and trolling angry men.  Don’t think we haven’t noticed.  But it’s still not exactly 50/50 when it comes to this kind of labour.  In fact, when prominent men call each other out in public, it literally makes the news and provides me with ‘chuntering from a sedentary position’ as my new favourite euphemism.

So what we wouldn’t give for a strong, hard working man right now.  Who hasn’t scoured the murky corners of the internet looking for an alpha male who can bench press 150lb of structural inequality?  We would all stop work and press ourselves up against the window to watch a dude making a complaint to the Advertising Standards Agency about the absolute bullshit contained in the average Diet Coke commercial.  No wonder Demi Moore let them put A Few Good Men in the title even though she did all the fucking legal work in that movie.  She found literally A FEW!  All in one workplace! Alright!  ‘Let’s work together on this!’ We were saying to all the excellent men in our lives.  ‘You can totally be on the team!  It’s like the A Team, only we love it when free and easy access to Plan B comes together!  You’re right behind us guys, right? Guys??’ And we waited.  And waited.  We cupped our ears and listened, like the Grinch on the top of Mount Crumpit, which is where we ladies rode with our mental and emotional load, to the tip top, to dump it.*  And all we heard was the crickets chirping. And the sound of women suddenly wondering what the response would be if a lot of wealthy old boys gathered at the Dorchester and hired security so they could put their hands where they shouldn’t on young men.  The sound of women all at once thinking that if men are from Mars, then some of them can fuck off back there (not all men, of course!).  The sound of dudes we know saying that’s important and everything, good for you, but they don’t really have time to read all that right now or saying nothing, nothing at all.  And the click of millions of women on the front line realising that the back up isn’t coming so they are just going to sort this shit out by themselves.

*Please God let somebody write an entire feminist Grinch Who Stole Christmas because I would love to but can’t be arsed.

And it turns out, there is nothing more powerful than seeing a lot of very, very funny women saying not ‘this man routinely abuses his position and does terrible things’ and not even ‘this man can fuck off’  but ‘this man looks like Beaker from the muppetsand then ‘I’m sorry – who?’  We are laughing at the things that used to silence us.  We are ignoring them.  Social Media is far from silencing: it is a training ground.  It is where you can watch in the wings and unlearn your years of taking it on the chin.  If you want deadly ninja skills for the battles ahead then this is the dark, sweaty combat hall where you learn how to find the pressure points.  And squeeze.  The Side Eye, the State of This, the Single Emoji Slap Down, the Mate, How Embarrassing For You, the Relentlessly Reasoned and Engaged Approach However Difficult The Conversation Is, also the It Is Not My Job To Educate You, the Goodbye Now, the Nope, the Nope, the Nope.

And if that sounds childish, it’s because it is!  As childish as the GOP and the NRA and Fox News being owned right now by an 18 year old with a buzz cut and watertight fucking arguments and such power that she needs to say exactly nothing for 6 historic minutesAs childish as having a group of children taking an unjust and corrupt government and centuries of colonialism and kicking that sorry shit to death with Meryl Streep gifs and hope.  And if that sounds like a revolution that’s about to reach the legal age for voting, that’s because it is.  Trump might not know it yet, he may feel like Twitter is his swamp and nobody’s going to drain it, but – au contraire, mon frere.  Twitter is a land war in Asia.  And these guys were there first.

Whether you like it or not, there’s a playground battle going on for our future, and this is where you come to shout and tussle if you need to be heard.  And if you are truly an ally, the time has come pick on someone your own size.  Or, preferably, bigger.  Save your bite for anyone who in that moment, however hard it is to put your finger on why, holds the reins.  Get in here and look for anyone hanging onto a rung lower than yours, who is listened to, valued, believed less than you –  and either speak with them to turn up the volume, or shut the fuck up and listen.  Even if (and I know, this is a big one) even if you think they are wrong.  Even if they are telling you that you have done something shitty when you don’t think you have, or that you still benefit from a shitty system and are part of the problem, which is hard.  Even if it’s just a habit, an offhand remark, if you did it without thinking – think.  Interrogate your habits.  Do the reading.  Don’t just expect them to explain it to you, try harder.  The playing field for outrage and anger is not a level one.  Draw on your capacity to listen and explain, especially if you are not dealing with this nonsense and thinking about your gender, your skin, your place in the world every time you pop out for milk.  Use it when you see that other people’s Dealing With Bullshit well has run dry.    

For feminists on social media are not just sharing memes, they are sharing ideas.  It may be abusive and outraged, but that is more than partially the point – how else are the powerful made ridiculous except by their own tiny, tweeting hands?  And let me tell you, I have learned more about intersectionality, activism and my own privilege in a year on Twitter than I did in three years at University surrounded by people who looked and sounded just like me.  More than I did doing a post-graduate degree in a place that prided itself on its radical credentials, and taught me mostly to dial down the feminism in order to be taken seriously.  More than this, on social media I have discovered people, lots of people, who are kind, clever, tireless, creative, talented, endlessly supportive and have a devastating line in solid burns and widening horizons.  They make me laugh.  They make me brave.

So, now, because of social media, we see each other, and we see how it is.  And if we fall down then we pick each other up, because we’ve got some things to say. If we were scared, then we are not any more.  And let me tell you, guys, there is nothing about how power works that you can teach us.  We know about not being taken seriously, being ridiculed, being silenced, being made to feel ashamed  –  this is the water we swim in.  And now here we all are, not drowning but waving. To each other. Online, we are learning a new normal – one where women speak up, speak up, speak up.

So if I provoke a flurry of dykes, a blizzard of lesbians (the correct collective terms), with daring comments about the abuse received by women making a daring addition to the electorate 100 years ago, well, let it snow, bro.  Go ahead and blow up my mentions.  I can take it.  I might not bother to reply but I’ll be busy high fiving someone and getting on with it.  And if I’m fat, it’s because every time I fuck your sense of entitlement, I get a biscuit.  Yippee ki-yay motherfuckers.