When There Are No Women

‘Tis the season to detox, declutter, Feng-shui and Marie Kondo your body, soul and home (I will start with my sock-drawer, so far no progress to report). Since the social media and the various gadgets that host these services have become our extended self (much like the third eye people look for at yoga classes), or at least an extra limb (usually an iPhone grown into one’s right palm), we obviously have to detox the crap out of our social media presence as well. Luckily there’s a large selection of guidance on how to go about this. 

I happened to click on a post lately because I was intrigued by the title: Your social media unconsciously defines you and therefore needs a detox asap. At first look the advise made much sense: unfollow all arseholes, fill the space with people who are not arseholes instead. Delete meaningless crap such as the Kardashians and again, fill this void by mentors. The author was kind enough to share a list of suitable follow-worthy individuals. Drumroll for the surprise of the weekend: they were all men. 

I trust you have all come across advertised posts such as “The 20 books everyone must read this year!” and my favourite “An average CEO reads 60 books a year and you should, too – get all the featured books here!” (makes me laugh every time – why should anyone care what an average CEO reads and does? I want to see the reading list of truly exceptional CEOs!!). The point: all featured books are written by men.

These are but two random examples, but bear with me. By show of hands: who has ever witnessed a following conversation: “Should we not consider also women candidates/should the Nobel prize not go to a woman this year?” followed by a stunned silence and then “Well, can you name one? There are no women!” followed by another awkward silence while you are desperately raking your brains for a woman’s name, any name. Everybody can now lower their both hands. Yes, this happens all the time. 

Never before has the atmosphere been more accommodating to start doing something about this. Here’s your Feminist Feng-shui for 2018 with ready-drafted defensives for the inevitable “But there are no women!” challenge:

– There are no women to follow on social media!

Yes, there are. For every Richard Branson there is at least Arianna Huffington, Sheryl Sandberg, Indra Nooyi, Anne-Marie Slaughter, Christine Lagarde, Joyce Carol Oates and Beyoncé. 

– There are no women artists!

Feminist art historian Linda Nochlin wrote a book called “Why Have There Been No Great Women Artists?” in the 70s. The title of the book has been now turned into a Christian Dior t-shirt (who would have guessed!), available in the S/S 2018 collection. My point: support the arts and support female artists. The following greats, off the cuff, can be name-dropped whenever a “Name one living woman artist!” -situation strikes: Jenny Saville, Marina Abramovic, Yayoi Kusama, Cindy Sherman.

– There are no women writers!

Easy. If it’s a light cocktail reception kind of situation, try Margaret Atwood, Joyce Carol Oates, Zadie Smith, Joan Didion, Donna Tartt, maybe a bit of Virginia Woolf, Jane Austen and the scandalous French Colette if you’re feeling cheeky. If situation requires heavy-hitters, go with Simone de Beauvoir, Doris Lessing (won the Nobel prize for literature in 2007), Elfriede Jelinek (Nobel in 2004), Herta Müller (also Nobelist in 2009) as well as Alice Munro, Nobel prize winner in 2013. On a casual day, offer Siri Hustvedt, Christa Wolf (author of “Kassandra”, btw), J.K. Rowling and Agatha Christie. If you urgently need masters of gothic writing, try Mary Shelley and the Brontë sisters, just to give you a few names for absolute emergencies.

– Read, retweet and recommend women. 

This is quite simple, really. Any public space belongs as much to women as it does men. An example: women are still retweeted much less than men. A man is labelled guru after a blockbuster book about public speaking. Let me know the last time this adjective was used on a woman, just because her book made it to airport bookstores’ Top-10. Question the hype, always. 

​- Other interesting things you might want to take a look at:

Latest issue of British Harper’s Bazaar has the word “feminist” big and bold on the front cover, and when you flip over the magazine, you’ll have the certain feminist t-shirt advert looking at you on the back. What’s between the covers is not too shabby, either. What is important is that feminism has become such a mainstream thing that it hits you on the cover of a fashion magazine. This I salute, I do, and you will want to read this magazine, too. It celebrates 100 years of women’s right to vote in the UK, and has lots of other inspirational stuff inside as well.

#Timesup is everywhere, and I hope it will be all over the place especially tonight at the Golden Globes. Clothing/fashion tip: for fabulous feminist cashmere sweaters you will need to check both the #timesup website and a label called Lingua Franca (À propos Golden Globes, women absolutely must stop posing their legs crossed as if their bladders were about to burst on the red carpet. Standing like one is desperately not trying to pee right there and then does not make one look skinnier. Everybody’s very welcome).

There was one reading list this year by a man that included books by women as well. Yes, that’s you, ex-Commander in Chief. Have a look at what Obama recommends us to read, then read it. Should you really want to wallow, re-read today’s papers’ headlines, then watch the below clip from 2009 and try not to cry.

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