This week (29 January) writer for The Observer Julie Burchill gave a rant ‘Spare me from the whining women who are giving feminism a bad name’ sparked by the ‘girls night in’ gone wrong on Celebrity Big Brother. Nothing about this looks like it’s going to be good or informative and she doesn’t even get the feminist part right.
It becomes evident that the Channel 5 show’s girl-on-girl argument was just an excuse to attract people to her article. Instead she complains about female socialising. She says “Complaining about men does not make you a feminist” which we know, even in Celebrity Big Brother, nobody claimed it does.
The first target of Burchill’s rant is girl talk but a woman’s stereotypical, social chats with her girlfriends don’t usually argue about women’s inequality in pay and the work place. ‘Girl talk’ is usually people talking about their individual experiences and problems. She also seems to overlook that women socially complain about other women, men complain about women and men complain about men all the time too.
When the ex-Page 3 girl claimed to be a ‘secret feminist’. This statement should have been given more attention as part of the original topic. Not only did the footballer’s wife “celebrity” contribute to the degradation and portrayal of women as sexual objects but also that she was a “secret feminist” as if supporting the rights of women was something to be ashamed of.
Pampering is apparently another anti-feminist action because it would be impossible for women to groom to have higher self-esteem rather than for men or ridiculous for women to bond over consumer products because no one does that. Once again, look at men: they bond in the locker room and around a games console or feel better with a shave, a new haircut and apparently go crazy for deodorant, so much so that it seems some men bathe in it. These are not women-only activities; they are just feminised to suit women and what they enjoy.
The article describes the majority of men to “just want women to have a wash, bring beer, show up and strip off”. Rather than look like they’ve tried, smell nice, have shaved and, gasp, brushed their hair and god-forbid, hold a conversation then she underestimates men and women both. And yes women expect the same of men; they don’t want someone to look like they haven’t made an effort either.
Burchill says “The older I get, the more I find that the friendships I treasure, which leave me wanting more, are those based around doing specific things”. The real point of the article finally comes out; it’s her own social ineptitude and unwillingness to listen to other people’s problems. She goes as far as saying “I’d rather be a surrendered wife for an evening than have a girls’ night in. At least you’d get some proper sex out of it.” From this statement you could surmise that she’d rather shut women up and put their domain between the kitchen and the bedroom and she calls others anti-feminists.
Nowhere in the article does Burchill bring up men complaining or depicting women as clueless. Though she does pick on the superhuman women of the Boots Christmas advert, ignoring beer adverts where men pretend to be at work with an entire pub of men working as a single unit to outsmart the wife because women are obviously all at home.
Talking about your problems and wanting to look nice is not about feminism, neither is a girl’s night in. And many would argue Celebrity Big Brother is not about feminism. It’s women not backing each other that can hamper feminism. So buy some ear plugs or an mp3 player and get some friends you find interesting.
Also posted on Yes Another Blogger.