JE’s Timestamps for SZ vs JP

Here is a pdf of Jefferson Estevam’s timestamp contents page for the April 2019 debate between Slavoj Zizek and Jordan Petersen, which I’m sharing because it took me so damn long to find it when I went to the video for the second time! Many viewers of the video who might find it as useful as I am may never get that far down the comments so if you’re feeling charitable, share this link again while you watch 🙂

Timestamps for SZ JP debate by JE

Also, I don’t comment on YouTube much (or even explore the WordPress tech here all that much), so I am delighted if someone who does wants to suggest a more accessible place for the pdf to sit, so people can get it easily and benefit.

Cheers  🙂

 

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Trans goes bananas: part two

Part two in a series; part one is here

In the previous post I admitted to struggling with the view that trans folk are, by definition, people who have seen to the depths of the fictions gender-roles imposed on all people, and yet made a choice to perpetuate them. And I struggled with the question of whether that meant that I was transphobic.

Given that the levels of transphobia present in civil society are serious cause for trans women to want to hide and pass as ‘real’ / cis / born women, it was simplistic for me to imagine that transitioning to be a woman was only a way to reject imposed male roles. I came to understand we have to present a gender to the world to function – nonbinary people are those who can defy this, not transfolk.

Levels of misogyny in society are such that being a woman is still to be discriminated against in many areas of life, sometimes in ways so subtle that we ourselves struggle daily to make out the contours, and resort to other explanations just to get respite from feeling we are on a battle frontline. The good news is, even though the trans debate has divided women, is has forced the question of the ontology of sex and gender back onto our agenda, which is something to make the best of.

Meanwhile, although there are many types of woman, many types of man, many types of transfolk, at the moment what I can see standing out are two types of trans woman and two types of cis-woman. I apologise if it sounds like this overlooks loads of other people: it doesn’t, it is just an observation about some types.

There are cis women who would like to not be treated as second-class citizens by social institutions and interpersonally by men: a heterosexual marriage can enable both. There are a thousand ways a woman can work to reduce the likelihood of being treated unfairly, and not one single way to escape it completely or permanently. These are women who make a stand if they can, and frequently question whether their demands may be unreasonable or unrealistic. On the whole, they are likely to respond kindly towards a feminine-presenting trans woman on the grounds that they have a lot in common in dealing with daily life. It may be hard for a cis woman to take a trans woman’s identity seriously if she still manifests lots of masculine traits familiar to her experience, such as talking loudly over her, or being misogynistic. This dissonance is not necessarily lessened by the simple fact of rude, boorish women existing.

There are also cis women who object to trans women on principle. Perhaps, like I did, they project onto the trans woman the belief that she must have at some stage internally shattered the illusions of gender completely. For a cis woman to have engaged with a complete critique of the outward affectations of both masculine and feminine social behaviours, and then be asked to relate to someone as a woman based entirely on these ‘fictions’ can cause serious cognitive dissonance. There is an answer to this conundrum, it lies again in the relationship between sexual ontology and social realities, but that is another story.

Meanwhile instead of drilling down (or while she does), the cis woman is prepared to challenge how trans women define themselves: she wants to defend woman’s sexual ontology. This can be her proportionate response to a genuinely felt threat. The problem is that it is not the trans woman, nor her claims, nor her own authentic personhood, that truly threatens women. It is the age-old misogyny that underpins violence, aggression and exploitation of women within a masculinist social context. And it is the new-fangled patriarchal backlash against women’s improving position in civil society that would exploit any loophole to tie her up in knots once again.

As for claiming that there are two types of trans woman that stand out – I know this is crude and repeat that we are all many and varied and this is just my device to help clarify our current problem. What I see, or rather hear, is trans women who were born male but have discovered they are deeply feminine, or female (again, this is not the time to dwell on the precise meaning of these terms – later), who have struggled and wrangled with an outer man until they have prevailed. This struggle creates the potential for a deep affinity with cis women who have struggled to become self-respecting women in this real time and place, rather than doormats. This is not to suggest that we are all authentic only when we have suffered deeply. Although there are seldom human lives so blessed that suffering is alien to them, it is still lazy and counterproductive to attribute psychological and spiritual maturation to negative experiences. I suspect many trans women develop a deep empathy with the misogyny directed at women precisely through the phobia and aggressive / violent behavioural-policing directed at them whenever they express/ed their feminine qualities while being read as male.

Meanwhile there appear to be trans women who are misogynistic. If you think that’s rude, or transphobic, think again. There are many, many women who are misogynistic. There are many women who are misandrous and there are many self-hating men.

Internalised misogyny is a thing. I often feel like saying, why call it ‘internalised misogyny’? What is the point of that phrase, as if misogyny was by definition something (some) men feel about women. What rubbish. Misogyny is a set of beliefs about the badness of women – it gets updated, it gets reduced, it gets reinvented, it gets swallowed. Clearing it out of our own psyches is every bit as important as fighting it in civil society and clearing men’s and women’s misandry is every bit as important as that. Trans folk offer an opportunity to debate sex and gender and thereby overcome irrational fears relating to those, but that doesn’t mean they are responsible for hosting that debate.

Some trans women have gone through their (possibly arduous, painful and even life-threatening) transition under the shadow not only of machismo but also of assertive women who insist that the sex of a woman is a hard reality that cannot be bought into (so to speak) by someone born a man. Those trans women have reason to dislike or fear or even hate these opinions and those who express them, just as those women have orginally had very good reason to reject the idea that a person’s true sexuate identity can be rooted entirely in socialised, gendered traits. It goes against their belief system, which is that gendered traits are inherently oppressive, just as their own views go against the experience and belief of the transitioner, that their identity is authentic. There need not be hatred between these people over these beliefs, there can be acceptance in both directions. Happily this form of acceptance is already prevalent in society between gender critics, trans people and trans gender critics. So why harassment in the streets?

To be continued …

Trans goes bananas: part one

pexels-photo-1170831.jpeg

In the debate about whether trans women are really women a whole host of important questions are embedded and often overlooked. The best speakers and writers manage to span this ground at least rhetorically, and when they do, they lay bare the failure of the real world to comprehend the contradictions that tie us in knots.

I think it can be a really good basic practice for anyone who gives a shit about ‘other people’, in any sense of those words, to always take a step back from a practical situation where conflict arises and check where the people disagreeing, actually agree. How often is the common ground more substantial than the difference? How often is the difference largely the result of malicious actors not present at the scene?

In the trans debate it sounds very much to me like the real problem is the aggressive harassment of dissenters from a popular liberal consensus. Ironically this is exactly the opposite of the outcome of the social division caused in the aftermath of the referendum on the UK being part of the EU, where targets of aggression were singled out by race/ethnicity. In these clashes, wealthy white right-wing politicians were not present. There, a popular liberal consensus took hold that it was crazy to vote to leave the EU and horrific to attack racial minorities and migrants. In the trans debate, the consensus seems to be that trans women are absolutely women and it is horrific to suggest otherwise: as if it is horrific to have the opinion that trans women are not women.

Aggressive harassment and misogyny in speech is apparently taken as a natural outcome of dissent from this consensus. This is wrong. No-one has ever suggested that it is crazy to think about leaving the EU. No-one has ever suggested that it was horrific to vote to leave the EU, or even, that it is horrific to call a barely-legal, badly-executed, conceited and self-indulgent referendum that would negatively affect the lives of countless millions in perpetuity (regardless of the outcome). It is not horrific to vote to leave, to call a bad referendum, or to think that the word ‘woman’ means a certain thing that others disagree with. Obviously, the calling of the referendum is the most horrific in this list.

So who called this referendum on the reality of womanhood? That’s actually a serious question by the way, I don’t know the answer. Someone is filming the trans women vs. cis women live show for kicks and it isn’t feminists. It has begun to remind me of an article in Le Monde Diplo about how the US used infiltrators deliberately provoked unrest between religious groups abroad to incite civil unrest and civil war, to their own advantage.

At heart we have an important debate about the ontology of sex and gender, maybe even a groundbreaking, transformative, educational debate that is long overdue and holds profoundly liberating potential for the majority of our population. Cis gendered people have so much more to learn from trans folks experiences than we realise. On the surface however, we have being forced to marvel at a bitch-infight between people who live as women, some of whom were born female and some of whom became female later. It is almost like Blur and Oasis being made out to be bitter rivals. Media bullshit – only this time fuelled by the public wading in online and in the streets and bringing it all to life, and involving far more, and vulnerable, people. This is not only stupid, it is also building up to a massive misrepresentation of the nature of trans womanhood – this is the cruellest irony. It also really is only on the surface – many cis women and trans women are not taking the bait, not in conflict, meaning their quite possibly (in context) majority voices are silent or easily drowned out.

Cis women may be oblivious, or they may be concerned, timid, afraid, feel threatened or even get harassed, if they have misgivings about the categorisation of trans women in a new way. If men are similarly concerned about the categorisation of trans men I have not seen any evidence of this myself. But no self-respecting trans woman would condone such treatment of other women. Thankfully many don’t.

None of these observations bear any relation to the question of whether trans women are women or not, nor to how many facets that debate might indeed have, if everybody was capable of meeting with mutual respect to find that out. I have loads of thoughts on that subject, but nothing that I believe should offend any trans person, or any woman. And yet, I anticipate if anyone were to read this blog post it would get replies that suggest it is offensive, so over-stimulated are the triggers to transphobia at this moment in public time.

I don’t want the fact that trans people are bullied, harassed and discriminated against for their choices and/or for their identities, to be neglected. I don’t only think that trans people have a right to live authentically, I think they are opening a challenging but valuable space for everyone to reconsider what it means to be an authentic person. I think some people are transphobic because they are simply unaware of how deeply ingrained their own gender in-authenticity has become.

But that’s not the only problem people have. I used to think that maybe trans people were irresponsible, because they had seen through the lies and coercion of gender-role-allocation and then chosen to perpetuate them. I struggled with myself around this idea for years, because although I do not believe it is transphobic, technically speaking, it is certainly crude and not an opinion I believed I could have owned in conversation with a trans person. I wondered if it meant I was transphobic and what to do about it. I wrangled with it for years, during which time thankfully I did also meet trans people, and eventually I began to understand better what was really going on. Gender may be lies, but it is real too. It is our second nature.

To be continued next week …

 

Fatherless daughters #1

silhouette photo of person standing in neon lit hallway
Photo by Naveen Annam on Pexels.com

I have noticed that in this current relationship I bring in aspects, memories, ingredients of my various former circumstances in order to weave around myself a sense of consistency. I feel I ought to say: an illusion of consistency; because, obviously, I am with a different man. And yet it is not such an illusion really. If everything that was truly of value to me in ‘past lives’ was reintegrated into this one, would that really make him one iota less than who he really is, right now? No.

I find myself calling out a little phrase to him regularly, one which is a direct import from my previous relationship of nine long years. I suspect I noticed a longing to re-hear this little sweetness a long time ago, perhaps while we were first swishing around in the bubblebath of romantic sensations. I would have told myself: that cannot be, the person who would say that to you is gone, remember how you felt after you went for coffee hoping to be friends? I would have told myself: new cutesy phrases will emerge in this new configuration, they will be different; and: look around yourself right now, although there are lemony anxieties there are marshmallow potentials and crunchy, chewy, fatty realities. Of course, I would have thought to myself, I am enjoying the newness because the oldness broke down and failed; I am embracing the newness because the new person offers so many surprises.

Yet gradually, as the anxieties steadily faded and the potentials bloomed, the cutesy little phrase evolved. First popped out the noun, then much repetition, then slowly and carelessly, the rhetorical question. Now we have the complete acceptance, the ownership of a delicious one-stranded intimate, private conversation, albeit one in language neither subtle nor disguised. The fascinating thing, the thing I just noticed and the reason I am writing this now, is that I used to be the one who always received this fairy-dust call out, but this time I am always the one who sends it.

Thinking I had cleverly but accidentally, organically, patiently, recreated a little emotional comfort-blanket I obviously couldn’t quite do without, I have allowed myself this routine which my partner would never suspect was an import. I reason that it doesn’t have to be ‘original’ to be ours. I truly believe he wouldn’t care, unless it was framed in a pointlessly nefarious way. Suddenly I notice, I am only ever saying it to him, never receiving or anticipating it, and with no fear that he will ever tire of hearing it, happy in the knowledge of the twinkle he will be feeling when he does. Perhaps he needs to hear it even more than I did. Now I can say it I don’t need to hear it at all. Perhaps he drew it out of me, cleverly, unconsciously, as a crucial ingredient in our mutual-healing process.

Now I see this role reversal clearly it has strangely enabled me to appreciate this gift given to me by my ex more strongly. More than a simple comforting re-creation, it is the direct and concrete relay of a healing mantra. This reminds me of my own deep belief, that our exes are not only people who bestowed enormous learning on us (we always hope), but also the people who injected the biggest joys and pleasures into our lives. I’m not talking about ill-fated dating with psychopaths, nor primarily abusive relationships, and nor am I comparing to joys of parenthood. And I hope I am pissing in the wind when I say this and that you are all joyously conscious of any and all supreme gifts of love and pleasure you enjoyed in past relationships. But I know I waver, in fact I probably swing like a pendulum, when I consider my exes’ influence on my life. And I always fear that the negative is the point of view that the society around me would be happiest to reinforce.

As a fatherless daughter I am increasingly conscious of my deep need for male attention: with thanks to whoever it was only last year who expressed this so succinctly to me: Daughters need their fathers to pay attention to them, and sons need their mothers to love them. Okay I thought, so to heal my lacks, I need to combine spending time with males who have quality attention for me which is rooted in real qualities I possess (rather than any I might contrive to secure it), and spending energy cultivating an awareness that I can know for myself what is worthwhile in my endeavours. I don’t need someone to approve my drawing of a house if I can see for myself that it is a perfect, exact representation of that house. Once, when I was a small girl, I could. I guess puberty was my downfall.

I am patiently training my new partner to act delighted when I show him my house picture, and he is responding well. Meanwhile he is being nurtured steadily back towards the life he once upon a time lived where his mother’s love was unquestionable. He is my baby.

Class and Art Part 2: Leaping first

 

white motor scooter parked near graffiti wall
Oleg Magni Pexels.com

Part one of this series is a blatant experiment in finding the thinnest comment on class and art you could imagine getting away with … Welcome to part two where we both start to figure out what I was driving at. By art I mean my striving to be creative through writing; by class I’ve just about implied that my personal circumstances include being a low earner from a non-wealthy background. By writing poetry I tried to assure myself that there was some artistic potential in my writing, even though I often doubted that this made me an artist, because my writing goal remained straight-up non-fiction. By eventually earning a decent salary (part-time) and having gone to university, I inevitably ensured that middle class people would read me as lower middle class rather than struggling-to-survive. The perspective that money was my nemesis only really took root when I had to give up my PhD. The problem was that my goals belonged to the middle-class but my means didn’t.

Throughout those years I had a poster on the corkboard near my apartment door telling me that all I needed to now in order to succeed was to find that truth that I was only the only thing in my way. Having to work 3-4 days a week in an exhausting job wasn’t stopping me from writing chapters. The energy required to be with my two kids fifty percent of the week wasn’t stopping me from doing the research. The routine emotional trauma of trying to reconnect with my kids when they got home from staying with their other parent/s for half the week wasn’t stopping me from performing clear-sighted objective analyses of the modern developments in critical studies of men and masculinities. No, I was stopping myself.

And Yes, all of that paragraph is an exercise in self-indulgent sarcasm for which I apologise to anyone who isn’t English (and who is still reading), if you are wondering what the fuck I am trying to say!

I’ve heard it said enough times in conversation now, to see without doubt, that the new-age-enlightenment rhetoric of finding all demons within ourselves and healing them first, as a path to achieving what we really want from life – to achieving whatever we want from life – is deeply burdened with class dynamics. On the one hand, we can easily see from statistics and social reality that not everyone can become famous, rich, a celebrated artist or public speaker by simply freeing themselves from negative thought patterns. On the other hand, what we aspire to, what our dreams are made of, is deeply constrained by our class position in society. The individual who defeats the statistics of their social background in order to excel as their imagination chooses, is the exception that proves the rule. They are also the one who visibly succeeds where a far greater number has invisibly failed. And the most-loved of the insincerely meritocratic rich.

At the same time, if we ignore this invitation to look deep within ourselves we are far more likely to give in to the weights laid on our backs by those who profit from the labours of others. Even consuming the art (or success) of the poor becomes a sweet pleasure for the rich provided that there are still enough poor left over to keep the profit-generators running and wages low. Looking deep within ourselves first makes it impossible to ignore the truth of class oppression. Believing that cash-poor families and individuals are struggling because they haven’t faced their personal demons is even madder than believing they are poor because they have not worked hard enough.

I’m currently following a course from a book called The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron. It’s a handbook and a workbook for finding creative inspiration and the means to act on it: to create and enjoy creating for its own sake, and towards whatever artistic goals you have for yourself. It works. It’s clever and brilliant and enlightening. Her key advice is to leap first and trust that the safety net will appear. The work involves digging out events and people who planted seeds of doubt and shame in you about wanting to make art (instead of doing a ‘real’ job?). It’s powerful and can be overwhelming at times.

As I struggle to deal with the emotional (and resulting physical) fallout from this deep-clean, I can see how exactly alike it is to the continuous emotional-physical cleaning out I have been doing through all the challenges and obstacles of the last twenty years. This book couldn’t have helped me then, because I didn’t have permission to believe that art was what I could or should want to do. I didn’t know I had a ‘right’ to make art. My personal circumstances were not that kind of safe for me. You can’t leap off from an empty space.

Once I heard a white man in his sixties telling a friend on the train that his daughter had announced that she was going to be an artist. It would work out okay in the end he said, she was marrying a merchant banker.

Class and Art Part 1: Coming Clean

abstract architecture background brick
M Á Padriñán Pexels.com

For many months and even years I’ve had writing as a serious long-term goal as well as a very part-time hobby. I can honestly say that now, as I am steadily getting closer to making it feel real, I am more aware than ever before of just how long and painful the process is going to be. Although a bit of me still dreams that ninety percent of the hurdles are behind me, deep down I know that’s a pernicious fantasy.

There is no coincidence at work in being more accepting of the long haul and feeling it might really happen – that I might really succeed in making myself do it ‘this time’. Whenever I have managed to kid myself that it will be easy, that it will all just fall into place, I have worked against my own progress, not towards it. It may have served to keep me from giving up. Yet the buried knowledge of what was really involved is one of the biggest tastiest meals for Resistance.

In The War of Art, Stephen Pressfield explores every corner of human behaviour where Resistance may show itself – to you and me that’s procrastination by another name, but also fear, ‘laziness’, avoidance, writer’s block and so on. I honour and love his capitalisation of Resistance – it’s The True Enemy. You can choose to take a great holistic view of course: all manifestations of Resistance can be read as precious signposts to what you need to change, to where you most need to go right now. One of the most important observations Pressfield gives us is that Resistance is not something you grow or develop yourself out of. It will be there beside you forever.

So all the while I was only pretending I understood how much commitment it would take from me to write, I was nourishing my Resistance. I paid lip service to the long road ahead, but I clung to the belief in the Big Break where someone influential would stumble upon my work and elevate it overnight, or to a necessary fiction that I am uniquely talented or productive, or interesting. Both of these are bald dead ends. If a writer (or any artist) has no talent or aptitude whatsoever they are unlikely to build up to a big readership whatever route they take (though some popular writers challenge that!), but aside from that extreme, we are all potentially talented and interesting – some of us just get really really excitable about things and have to share them. A great woman once said we should only write when we can’t not write.

I can tell you why I needed that style of Resistance for so long, the ‘I don’t need to worry too hard about working because I know it will fall into place sooner or later’ style. I needed it because I couldn’t do the extraordinary amounts of work which are needed in order to produce ‘serious’ pieces of writing (i.e. something approaching professional, something people might buy, thereby eventually enabling you to not have another job – that kind of serious). I couldn’t do that work. I had to tell myself it didn’t matter. I couldn’t tell myself that if I gave it ten years before I started, it would be an easier road. That would only have been a far worse form of Resistance. I’ve had kids, jobs, partners and break ups. I’ve had health issues, mental health issues, mental people issues and lovely people taking up loads of my time by being fun to be with and letting me talk about all my issues.

I don’t believe for a moment that people born into wealth don’t suffer from writer’s block or any of the other bazillion forms of Resistance, but I do believe that money and survival, expectations and opportunities, feed directly into the bank of possibility. I created vast mental and behavioural contradictions by telling myself that my ‘background’, my income options and my juggling of too many other major commitments, should not inhibit my progress or ‘success’ as a creative producer. Eventually this mess in my mind knocked me over like a train. It’s one of the key ingredients in the soup of mild mental illness that I have fought to recover from ever since finally leaving my jobs. My stubborn refusal to believe that I was at an economic, class disadvantage made me unwilling to assess my capabilities realistically, and so I drove myself into the ground without a second thought.

Being a woman is one of the hardest ‘background’ factors to pretend we are not disadvantaged by. Having children is a job worthy of any human lifetime; also we don’t all have to do it. We live in a world which lies to us every day about this. In sane worlds, men and women put children first and by being unanimous about the obviousness of this, unthinkingly support each other’s creativity and productivity, via and for the benefit of, relationships, extended families and communities. And creativity and productivity are harmoniously intertwined.

Take my hair

woman in clear gemstone studded lipstick
Makeup: not mad at all
[Oleg Magni / Pexels]

Sometimes feminism does have drawbacks. Obviously this has to be true – how could an ideological and political movement spanning decades, nay centuries, and aiming precisely to create broad and deep transformations, not have infinite small and medium-sized drawbacks along the way? Few humans like change when they have not been the instigator, and even those who are will need a really good mac to weather that change.

Take my hair, for example (bear with, bear with). I have long “what I call” brown, boring hair. For decades I thought I looked like Nana Mouskouri – not the (lovely) real woman, but a faded childhood memory of her with ‘hippy’ hair, which for some mysterious reason was exactly what I thought I shouldn’t look like. One happy day I discovered that she is one of the highest-selling female artists of all time. I realised that one should not give a f*ck whether one looks like her or not, but simply admire her talents and her success. As soon as I listen to some of her music I will be able to admire her talents.

I should also try harder to not give a fuck about how I think my hair looks, because a) no-one else gives a fuck (whoops I lost some asterisks there), and b) because what I think about my hair when I look in the mirror is going to be by far the most distorted view of it of any human being anyway. Okay, so some people do care, in the sense that they judge, but we don’t care what judgemental people think, right?

How does this relate to feminism? Every time I saw my hair I felt it was making me look a certain way I didn’t like: too old, too poor, unglamorous, boring, uncool… the list goes on. Occasionally it reminds me of someone in the past I took a dislike to, which makes some sense even though it’s incredibly silly. I summarised these micro-self-negs as responses to the onslaught of perfection-myths propagated by vast and powerful visual media, and made flesh by all those inconvenient, young, image-conscious women whose hair is annoyingly full, shiny and bouncy. Their conformity, I told myself, is my nemesis; I do not want to conform, so I subject myself to low-hair-esteem instead: a Hobson’s choice.

I half-heartedly complained about my general despair of my hair to my boyfriend the other day. I felt maudlin-ity oozing out of me. He was unmoved at best, bordering on perplexed. It’s not my hair that’s boring but me complaining about it – not something I intend to make a habit of, you may be pleased to hear. It made me think differently: if I don’t like my hair, why don’t I change it? It takes me ages to go to the hairdresser when I start to think it’s looking too long and flat, which proves I’m not that cut up about it (pun apologies). It does cost a lot – is there a feminist spin on that? Of course, and it’s fair to say that, on the whole, women have much more gruelling beautification practices to grapple with than men do, even if some men have their anuses waxed. But it’s still a choice – I can pay, or if I can’t pay, I can put it up, cut it off, dye it or whatever makes me feel better.

The drawback of feminism here is the way I have entertained for too long this self-pitying rhetoric, become so utterly mundane as to be nonverbal. Every time I look in the mirror I feel inadequate, subtly disadvantaged and dowdy, instead of appreciating the privilege I have of healthy, moderately versatile hair which I could have more fun with if I could be bothered.

I admit this is a pretty oblique swipe at feminism, if that’s what it sounds like it is. But there are many unhealthy ways we can fall under the spell of being told how disadvantaged we are. I watched a horrific video last year of a comparison between a man and a woman, which was intended to demonstrate the unfair costs to women of beautification. A terrifying number of stages were taken by this supposedly typical woman enacting a supposedly normal skincare routine. The man in this video did more to his face than I would ever do to mine in one go. While illustrating that (typical) women spend more on makeup than men do, this video also completely normalised this stupid waste of time and money. It did carry the implicit message that in many places women are expected to wear makeup to look good, but it could hardly be said to challenge that fact head on.

Many women do feel they are required to wear makeup in order to look normal, whether they have any fun with it or not, and that is in my opinion, a terrible thing: an advertising-driven coercive norm which continually escalates standards beyond the reachable in order to enslave women to the mistaken belief that their faces look bad naked. This might be a feminist issue, but it is much more overtly a consumerist and capitalist issue. As a feminist issue it doesn’t quite hit home, because women have always chosen to decorate and adorn their bodies and faces with whatever they can get, and it is generally only misogynists who denigrate women for choosing to do so – I certainly don’t, I just wish it was driven only by pleasure and celebration.

Back to my hair … I have for many years felt that what I see when I look in the mirror is not only the result of saturation of my visual field by better-looking hair, but also a projection onto my image of my self-esteem – that if I felt happier with myself as a person I’d see something different. Recently I tackled some very old demons (the really well-hidden kind that gently suck vitality out of your whole being), and sure enough, my hair looks better already. Undercutting my entire argument I realise that these demons were planted by a toxic older man who, at the time, I had considered a good friend. Feminism, you damn gone won again.