I have only one piece of advice to give, and it is a question. Many women ask themselves questions all the time. ‘Is that fat free? Have I got up early enough to make my own muesli before the school run? How can I check my privilege and smash the post-industrial capitalist patriarchy? What are cankles?’ And so on. While you were coming into the world, my gorgeous wet kiss on the face, eat me up and spit out the pips of a daughter, I was given patchouli oil on a stick as pain relief. ‘That’, I thought to myself, ‘is bullshit.’ 56 short hours and one heart failure later, I had diamorphine administered directly to my spine. I’m not telling you to try either of these, but quite by accident it provided me with the best of all questions, and my gift to you:
This can be easy to answer. But sometimes the bullshit can be hard to spot. Below is my advanced checklist:
- Does it make you happy?
If this is the case, carry on! It is therefore not bullshit, and no other questions need to be asked.
- Do you have to buy anything?
You don’t have to buy stuff to feel good about yourself. Quite the opposite. This took me 20 years and an unfortunate couple of months wearing HIGHLY IMPRACTICAL harem pants to work out. Ask yourself:
Do you feel unable to grasp what is happening in Syria unless it is explained next to a picture of some shoes? If so, you are reading Grazia magazine. Put it down.
Does the advertising feature a subliminal shot of Rachel Weisz jogging while pushing a buggy? This is unacceptable bullshit. Look away.
- ‘The science bit’
People are going to tell you a lot of stuff that is definitely true because it is called science. You may be under the impression, as is the beauty industry, that you cannot ‘hear’ science unless, like a dog whistle just for ladies, it is related to you on the frequency of Jennifer Aniston. This is not science, this is bullshit.
Here is my checklist:
Do 9 out of 10 people agree, or has it actually been subject to a double-blind, randomized placebo controlled test?
If it’s a book telling you how to do stuff, is it a part of a long term academic study at an accredited university? No? Is it actually just someone telling you shit that they think?
Does the book contain a soft-lit picture of the author resting their chin on their hands and wearing something floral? Yes? Put it down and slowly step away: they are a maniac.
- Does it make you feel like crap?
You do not get Lady Points for physical or emotional pain. Look out for this:
Is your partner
a) An asshole or
b) Nice to you, like, all the time?
Make your mind up. Don’t put up with a).
Is it about children? Giving birth to your child? Feeding your child? Raising your child? Is the word ‘natural’ being used to imply ‘slightly better at being a woman’? This is weapons grade bullshit.
Crack on, lush lady, do whatever you fancy. Accept other people’s fancies too. I know people who have had their babies by C-section and were back at work within a week. They are excellent mothers. I know (or know of) people who have given birth at home, in water pools, in yurts, in the woods, in cottage hospitals, in large hospitals, with help, on their own, listening to rap music, plucking a song that they composed themselves on a harp, people who have stayed at home for a bit or for ages, who have breastfed a bit or a lot or not at all. They are excellent mothers.
Choice is a marvellous thing, we fought for it for a long time, my lovely. It is not that sly tool of the colonisers, the improvers, the middle classes: ‘educated choice’. It is just choice. It is not a weapon to beat other women with.
Also, is it on the Daily Mail’s website? Are you reading it ‘just for the celebrity news?’ In 14 countries within the EU this is classified as self-harm. Don’t make me stage an intervention
- Do you want to do this? Really? Or is it a pain in the arse?
Starting a family:
Here are my tips:
Do you really want to have a baby? Great. Do it. You will win at life.
Do you not really want to have a baby? Great. Don’t do it. You will win at life.
Here are my tips:
In your current line of work are you
a) Improving the lives of others
b) Happy about going to work most mornings
c) Making an absolute shit load of cash
You need to be ticking at least 2 of these boxes, mate, otherwise it’s bullshit.
Pinterest worthy bullshit
It is possible that the current mania for home cooked and homemade everything… may just be about keeping you at home, you marvellous woman of the boobs and the brain. I also know this as Homemade Bunting Bullshit. If you get pleasure and a sense of well-being from sewing clothes or making choux pastry from scratch, you are an excellent lady, I salute you and will visit your house for pastry based snacks often. But personally, if somebody tells me to pipe home cooked lemon curd into my madeleines, I expect that to be a euphemism. Equally, nobody has to share my enthusiasm for teen fiction and the Fast and Furious oeuvre.
Don’t do the things you hate. There is juuuust no time. We probably live in the latter stages of capitalism, so sorry about that. But before we all have to fight each other in the mud and haggle with home-grown turnips for power generators, feel free to get yourself down the shops for the stuff you can’t be arsed to make with your actual hands. It’s fine, they’re really good at making stuff and getting it to you because it’s almost like this is how the economy works. Not all of that is ok, I know, but you can choose your shops. In short you don’t have to feel bad about not hand-making muffins for the cake sale. You’ve got bigger (sustainably sourced) fish to fry, mighty girl.
And remember: just because they look like they doing good and changing things, doesn’t mean that they are. People on Etsy are capitalists too, they’re just not as good at it. That vegan curry you’re buying from a posh chap in a vintage citroen van at the Peace Festival is being cooked on gas that’s been piped through Russia. Bullshit comes in all forms, my darling.
- Are the dudes doing it?
Are they? Ask yourself, every single time you’re not sure about something. Are they hand-making the World Book Day outfit at 1am? Are they doing stomach crunches against a log at a fucking Buggyfit class? Are they buying ‘serums’ for £25/100ml to smear on their face to look young (because, science)? Are dudes worrying about whether having children will affect their ability to be taken seriously at work? Do they put up with clothes with no pockets? Are they even thinking about this shit? I mean The Man Who Has It All is, but what about the rest? If not, well. You know what I’m going to say by now.
So there you are, my funny leg long head back eyes shut chorus of a daughter. Don’t worry! Just have a bloody good time and keep asking the question. Is it bullshit? Is it?? Also, don’t wear harem pants if you want to run after a toddler. Saved the best tip for last, you are welcome xxx