“Messy or Dressy”? Meet Glossy Bossy.
Feminist hat on. Strap in. That’s all the warning you get.
BBC Radio 4 has a programme called ‘Woman’s Hour’, which has a long and mainly righteous history of airing and discussing issues relevant to women in a world that tries to mute us. Yes, they have their quota of cooking tips and fashion as well as cerebral discussion of how to function in the patriarchy, but given that the programme started as an hour of company for the little housewife while she went about her domestic duties in 1946, that is to be expected.
All of what follows has a caveat. I hope it is a joke. Later today, I might be able to update this post with a pretty-feminist-with-a-sense-of-humour-titter, and admit I was taken in. I would embrace the potential embarrassment. Meanwhile …
Yesterday, Woman’s Hour tweeted a quiz.
Well, hello false dichotomy. “Messy or dressy?” God knows I’ve been backed into rhyme and metre corners before, but the day you start throwing out sense to hit those targets is the day you should hang up your poetic towel. But that’s just the title: we’ve a lot to get through. Keep up.
There are nine questions, each with three possible answers. You know the Electoral Commission employs people specifically to look at important questions governments want to ask, to evaluate implied bias? They have that job because, as any parent or even slightly manipulative person will know, phrasing is everything. I have rarely seen (aside from archly rhetorical anti-feminist hate speeches) a register used that falls so far on one side of the fence you could see it employing a scorched earth policy to stop you approaching.
Let’s have a little look at them together, shall we? (Did you find my tone just then annoying? Feeling patronised? You ain’t seen nothing yet.)
Their three-tier answer approach is aimed to corral the hapless interviewee into three stereotypes of womanhood. First answer means you are basically feral, and must shoulder the pity heaped upon you from the supercilious, plucked and polished Glossy Bossy. Second answer allows you some wiggle room to deviate from the bald sheen of their idea of ‘normal’. Third answer is clearly the one to aim for: only the coiffured elite could maintain this level of grooming. Whether you would have time to be literate enough to read the questions is unclear.
The register in all the first tier of answer choices is flatly condescending. We have accusations of dribbling (with all the implications of sub-standard hygiene attached), infantile language phrased as faux innocent questions, and in the final question the added link between being ugly and reading books. I always knew education was dangerous: here is our proof.
I applaud the quiz’s commitment to character. They paint an internally coherent picture of how Glossy Bossy would see an intellectual superior, making sure to undermine every potential point of celebration of brain over “beauty”.
I won’t share the delight of all nine questions with you – if you’re interested, you can do the quiz yourself. But a few gems shone out amid the ‘crock of shit’ (not my phrase, alas: the wonderful Jenny Landreth coined that one).
Q6: How often do you remove your body hair?
- I’ve only ever waxed my Barbour
- In time for hot date so rash subsides
- I had it all lasered off when I was 18
Leaving aside the embedding of an achingly bad pun and assumptions of bluestocking, upper class, buck-toothed hilarity, the ‘moderate’ middle way admits it is expected and completely normal that a woman will endure pain to present herself to a man. (I’m assuming these answers are aimed at straight women. Can’t imagine why …) There is a brilliant video of a ‘Sexy Getting Ready Song’ which I’ll leave you to google yourself, illustrating this exact point. It is in no way safe for work.
Fittingly, I have written this during today’s Woman’s Hour. They haven’t yet been in touch to say they were joking. I can wait.
We have never needed Jacky Fleming more.
Don’t know which is worse: that at the end you have your answers marked ‘correct’ or ‘wrong’ (“interesting answer”? That’s what I say to a child who’s trying hard but Not. Quite. Getting. It.) or that the BBC, that we’re all trying so hard to protect, THINKS THAT THIS IS A GOOD USE OF ITS TALENT AND RESOURCES!!
Never mind messy or dressy – I just feel a wee bit dirty …
Yes – I was going to say something about their final analysis when your results are in, but didn’t want it to be too long. I could have gone on for ever. But it’s good to know they ‘applaud my sangfroid’ about ‘getting away with “nature’s legwarmers”‘.
So was it supposed to be funny? (The quiz, that is, not your post, which really is). Don’t know which is more pathetic really, that they’re trying to be funny or that they’re actually serious. Either way, definitely not aimed at anyone with an IQ exceeding two digits. There wasn’t a single answer to a single question that I identified with (but maybe that’s because I’m too old/ugly/bookish).
I still don’t know if it’s serious – the BBC hasn’t been in touch. I’ll take bookish over most other things, frankly. What a business.
I’m going to make some some serious points and rather ‘insistent rebuttals’, but you can still read it as lighthearted banter in the same spirit as your post 🙂
You can insert the phrase “just saying” at the end of every sentence if it helps 🙂
> BBC Radio 4 has a programme called ‘Woman’s Hour’, which has a long and mainly righteous history of airing and discussing issues relevant to women in a world that tries to mute us.
I’m struggling with the idea of being muted TBH…
There are no programs on R4 or any of the BBC channels (or the media as a whole) which are devoted to discussing and addressing men’s issues, or even with men’s issues as a small component. But there are dozens of ‘women around a table discussing women’s issues’ type programs on TV and on the radio and always have been. Hours and hours of the stuff each day….
We are constantly being told that women are silenced in society… usually we are told this by women while they are….er…. standing….. on …. a ….. podium…. er .. addressing the world… at great expense and with media in full attendance and to much applause and all round encouragement (and no fruit being thrown at all).
Meanwhile men are never, ever, ever given similar platforms to speak and air their concerns, grievances and issues. Men have to organise and pay for their own conferences which are always low budget affairs with no political support and no media publicity at all (except to dismiss it by either labelling it a joke or as some sort of terrorist gathering). While Emma Watson (whose qualifications to speak on gender issues are…?) was being given a platform to speak to the world a small men’s rights gathering was having to look for a new venue after the small hotel they initially booked pulled out after receiving bomb threats from feminists. Which gender is being muted, again?
The other week a male politician in the UK dared to suggest during some political meeting that they discuss men’s issues once a year on international men’s day. He rattled off a long list of areas where men have LESS legal rights and protections than women as well as other issues such as men making up the majority of suicides, homeless and so on. He was immediately shouted down by a feminist woman MP who used the logic …… (strap yourself in for this) …… that we must not take a break from discussing women’s issues to discuss men’s issues – not even for one day a year – because men already have plenty of opportunities to discuss men’s issues because we live in a patriarchal society!
In other words men are privileged. And male privilege is when men must accept being treated like serfs with no voice and no representation and less rights than women.
This is not even circular logic, it is pretzel shaped logic!
After (inevitably) getting some criticism for being so sexist, this women cherry picked the inevitable “Go jump of a cliff and die” type of comments and used them to claim that SHE was the victim of all of this….. male babies being genitally mutilated or men denied access to their children = male privilege. Female MP getting push back for making unapologetic sexist remarks against men = the systematic oppression of women.
Unwittingly this woman MP succinctly explained how patriarchy/ feminism (same thing) actually works. We tell men they are privileged over and over again before pushing them out the door to go and mine the coal, build and maintain the infrastructure or fight on the battlefield (basically do all the grunt work) and as they head out of the door we say “We’ll I guess I’ll just stay here and make sandwiches – as usual! …. sigh….”.
We tell men they are privileged not because they actually are (or ever were), but because the ‘male privilege’ narrative stops men from ever complaining about their lot in life and demanding some of the comfort, security, sympathy, self expression, individuality, special treatment and free resources which has always been very much a female entitlement. Women and children first. He for she.
Women’s roles can only be made to look like suffering and oppression if we compare them to women’s technologically assisted lifestyles today (which is what feminists do), rather than comparing women’s roles to their male counterparts at the time.
Even today men literally have less rights than women. Yet we still live in a “he for she” society which we frame as ‘gender equality’ because most of us believe men are privileged compared to women and so men somehow ‘owe’ women special treatment and free stuff. And we believe this because whenever a man tries to speak about men’s rights and men’s issues we either laugh in his face or call him a deranged nutter and dangerous misogynist who doesn’t understand how privileged he really is. We tell him he is privileged despite the fact that he was genitally mutilated at birth, told he was a rapist at school by his sex education teachers, hit in the face by girls at school who told him he could not hit back or he would be expelled (which is true), given a 60% longer prison sentence than women for the same crime (and more likely to be arrested in the first place, given zero reproductive rights, and laughed at when he was raped by a woman or verbally or physically abused up by his wife who then divorced him and prevented him from seeing his own children (and prevented them from seeing him).
None of these gender inequalities and suffering men experience count because ……. drumroll…… men are privileged! 🙂
And men are privileged because any man (or woman!) who might dispel this myth by talking about the inequalities and suffering which men face is always muted by the media, by feminist politicians and by the UN and anywhere else where people traditionally get to have their say.
If we really did live in a ‘patriarchal’ society (as feminists define patriarchy – a society set up by men to serve men’s interests at women’s expense) then surely the media/ politics/ UN would be overflowing with men going on about the issues they face (which would be relatively trivial), while women were prevented from talking about the issues they face (which would be important human rights inequalities)…. yet what we see is the exact opposite.
So what logical conclusion should we draw from this?……
> Yes, they have their quota of cooking tips and fashion as well as cerebral discussion of how to function in the patriarchy, but given that the programme started as an hour of company for the little housewife while she went about her domestic duties in 1946, that is to be expected.
‘Little housewife’ sounds awfully oppressive …..but only until you compare it with men’s equivalent roles throughout the mid 20th century, which were to work out in the fields and in the factories and shipyards ….. and also to be shipped off to far away lands to be ‘disassembled’ under a hail of machine gun fire (with anybody refusing to march forward getting shot for desertion).
I wonder how many men (some as young as 18), finding themselves suddenly without legs, and bleeding to death rather quickly on a muddy field in France said to themselves (in between screams of agony and vomiting from shock) “Well at least I am not being forced to stay in the kitchen baking bread and looking after my children, like the poor oppressed women of my generation!”…?
Radio 4 (and BBC as a whole) was (and still is) essentially government war propaganda. In many ways the radio served as a surrogate husband for women while their husbands were away dying of their male privilege.
Even today the generation who still listen to R4 tend to be comfortable housewives watering their plants and baking scones in their M4 corridor commuter country village converted farmhouses, while their husbands are away earning loads of money in London.
> Leaving aside the embedding of an achingly bad pun and assumptions of bluestocking, upper class, buck-toothed hilarity, the ‘moderate’ middle way admits it is expected and completely normal that a woman will endure pain to present herself to a man.
Yes but it IS completely normal in the sense that millions of women CHOOSE to do it every week. You are implying these women are somehow being cajoled by men (the patriarchy) into spending a fortune and loads of their spare time to undergo the pain of hours and hours of meticulous self objectification for men’s benefit. You are implying women are being reluctantly dragged each Saturday by their BF’s and husbands and forced to try on loads of unnecessary shoes and clothes and then buy them and wear them for him! 😉
By promoting this narrative you are effectively stripping women of their agency and defining women as acted upon objects….. so it is in fact you who is actually objectifying women by framing women in this way.
The reality is that women who undergo such laborious, expensive and often painful beauty regimes and fashion shopping do so (a) by choice (because women are not mere objects, but actually do have agency) and (b) do it all for selfish (self serving) reasons, namely to increase their sexual value/ social status in society by enhancing (or outright fabricating) their own appearance of youth, health, femininity …… AKA sexual fertility.
Female beauty is basically all about the appearance of fertility. Thick glossy hair, slim waist, curvy body, lack of body hair, small feet etc are all indicators of female hormones, thus fertility. Youth and health are also indicators of fertility to, especially seeing as how women become less fertile in their mid 30’s – much earlier than men – and before most women really start to age visibly. So to appear fertile you have to look really youthful.
Red lips, dark eyes and rosy cheeks are also natural female-specific facial traits which make up obviously enhances. And during ovulation and when sexually aroused a woman’s lips and cheeks redden due to increased blood flow under the skin – so the traditional flushed make up look signifies to a man that you are ovulating and / or sexually aroused!
All of these beauty traits increase a woman’s sexual power and leverage over men and serve to elevate a woman’s status and value over other women.
Heels and frivolous, impractical and restrictive (debilitating) clothing is well known to have a profound psychological effect on men (and women for that matter). Feminine clothes don’t just showcase a woman’s femininity (fertility), but heels and impractical / restrictive clothing also makes a woman appear more vulnerable – and even makes her literally disabled – and this triggers extra sympathy, compassion, and a paternalistic urge to protect and care for these women. Royalty and aristocracy have always used outlandish and ridiculously debilitating clothing for this same psychological effect. We all feel an urge to protect and in a sense ‘serve’ those who appear disabled, whether they are disabled by being in a wheelchair or disabled by wearing strappy shoes with heels and flimsy / restrictive dresses (and are barely able to negotiate stairs or lift boxes as a result).
The idea that these psychologically manipulative behaviours are imposed onto women by men is silly. But it is predictable…. it is what a king or queen might say if asked why they wear such ridiculous, expensive, frivolous and over the top clothes….. “It is a burden I have to bear, you see, because it is my subjects – whom I serve – who DEMAND I wear such elaborate and expensive costumes…. and who am I to argue?…”
Any passing alien would automatically (and logically) classify women as the privileged sex in society and men as the worker drones, simply by looking at the differences in clothing, hair styles, make up etc between men and women.
So anyway…. men traditionally seek fertile young women because men know their role is to provide resources and protection, so naturally they are going to want to do so with a woman most likely to reproduce successfully (ie young fertile women). And women traditionally seek men with money, and social status because women know they are going to be vulnerable during reproduction and need a man capable of providing them with resources and protection. This is just biology driving social behaviour, same as with all species.
We’d never say that a man who is driven to get a decent career, a decent income, a nice car, a nice house etc to attract a nice wife, is being manipulated by women. Yet when women are driven to get an attractive body, nice hair, and assemble a very fertile look in order to attract a man with the nice career, house car and income, we have been trained to say she is not doing all of that for HER benefit, but only for his.
This is obviously a double standard.
As a general rule we tend to invest money and time on things which (we believe will) serve our interests. Women who spend a fortune on their appearance do so because it serves their interests to do so. Women who are obsessed about their appearance (to the point of obsession) are generally are on the prowl for a man with money and status. Just as men whose ambition is to earn a billion dollars and own a yacht, a Ferrari and a mansion are generally on the prowl for young attractive women half his age to have sex with. In both cases they seek power and leverage over the opposite sex, by offering things which the opposite sex values.
Sure it is a drag, but the standards are made so impossibly high because of other women being so competitive, and not because of men. If we started with a blank slate tomorrow men would still adore women – hairy armpits, blotchy skin and all. Then a few women would apply just a touch of mascara to give themselves an edge in the youth and fertility stakes. Then a few more women would add a touch of lipstick and blusher. And within, say ……. a week we’d be back to where we are today with millions of women injecting their faces with poison and stuffing bags into their breasts 🙂
It is not oppression. It is fierce female competition. It is only oppression if you define women as being ‘acted upon’ objects, with no agency, no will power, no intelligence and no personal responsibility/ accountability…. which is, of course how our feminist dominated society still likes to define women.
Thanks for all this, Curiosetta. What a lovely name. It’s not often a comment is three and a half times as long as the post.
Hey thanks 🙂 Yes sorry for the length. Unfortunately when it comes to most of these issues you have to start at the very beginning and unpack the whole thing because there is simply no pre-existing discussion out there (or rather what discussion there is tends to be ‘muted’). So there is no common knowledge, no point of reference for any of this, no memes. This is further proof that men’s issues and men’s human rights are never discussed in the media or blogosphere or gender studies classes. So we are all basically starting from scratch.
It always amazes me how it took literally decades of people ranting at great length to explain WHY black people deserved equal human rights and equal treatment ……and yet today the exact same concept can be conveyed in a single sentence, and understood by all instantly. If the concept is so simple then how come so few people could grasp it before?!
What tends to block such basic understanding is a ‘threat narrative’. Only after we overcame the threat narrative that blacks were uncivilised savages, rapists and powerful barbarians were we able to empathise with them as equal human beings who were as vulnerable as us….. and when this happened granting them equal human rights suddenly became a no brainer.
Hopefully one day we will also be able to overcome the threat narrative that men are uncivilised savages, rapists and powerful barbarians and then we will also be able to empathise with them as fellow human beings who are also vulnerable….. and granting them equal human rights in the areas I mentioned above will also suddenly become a no brainer. And we will wonder why nobody thought to give men equal rights in those areas before!
When we study history we find that all of the most violently persecuted and exploited groups were defined as powerful, privileged and dominant and invulnerable (blacks, jews etc), as this is the only narrative capable of erasing the public’s collective empathy for them.
Labelling an entire group (a race, a gender or a nationality) ‘privileged’ is basically a call for everyone to stop feeling any empathy towards them. Empathy is what stops humans from committing acts of evil on one another. So once empathy is erased for a particular group what follows is usually a bloodbath…..as history demonstrates over and over again.
Fascinating (if rather gruesome) subject! And again a subject which is not discussed in schools or the media hence my rambling again (sorry!)
“we are told this by women while they are….er…. standing….. on …. a ….. podium” *cough* Elephant podium *cough*
Forgive my ignorance, but what is an elephant podium? I tried googling it and came up with nothing.
Dear Radio 4,
I don’t listen to Woman’s Hour, because I’m annoyed by the idea that women only get an hour. Although yes of course I know that’s a throwback now. It is, right?
I can imagine your online marketing manager in a meeting with a flipchart, saying something like “We have to get women to engage more, how do we get women to engage?” and someone suggested that when we were all 12, we really liked those quizzes in Cosmo that told us who we were, because hell, we were still figuring it out, and it felt good to be put in a box by Cosmo.
But, Radio 4, we are in our 40’s now and we *totally* know who we are.
You obviously don’t.
I tried the test. I got 3/17, which plonks me squarely in the Messy category, essentially an unwashed ball of tangled hair and snot. I’m not sure how to explain my newly revealed unattractiveness to my wife. I’m also not sure how there can be 17 points available in a quiz with 9 questions.
[…] Rogers, ‘“Messy or Dressy?” Meet Glossy Bossy‘ on her […]