Posts Tagged feminist

Hats

Happy anniversary Will and Kate. It’s been one year since my friends and I watched the wedding, and one of the (usually) sharpest among us, upon hearing that the maid of honour Philippa was about the enter, asked where Kate’s sister Pippa was.

Oh, I’ll take any chance to relive that.

Anyway…

Male readers may want to relive the sight of Pippa’s bottom as it sashayed into the Cathedral, but to mark this one year celebration, I am going to address another hot topic of the royal nuptials: Beatrice and Eugenie. Or the hats. Oh, those hats.

I’ve often wondered how men feel about hats, probably because I often wonder how I feel about them. In theory, they’re great. They have a practical benefit and a stylistic flair; this is especially key in the cold and damp weather that comes with London living.

Speaking of cold weather, I think men love knit beanies. I gather this when girls put them on before leaving the pub on a winter’s night and men just smile stupidly (the more stupid the smile, the more he fancies her). I also think certain fedoras, trilbies, whatever they’re called, are a sexy solution to bad weather – and as a recent trip to Vegas proved, a decent dance prop.

But extreme hats? I think we can all appreciate the artistry, but honestly… Beatrice and Eugenie were a subject of conversation, but who wants to be spoken about like that?! Also, can we for a minute discuss the fascinator? This may be the best named accessory on earth for the sheer fact that it is so fascinating, and by that I mean it sort of makes women look like those primordial deep water fish that have light bulbs and other fishing rod type ‘bait’ hanging off their heads. Do men understand what we’re trying to achieve with these things? Do we?

The thing is, the more extreme our choices, the more aware we are of them, and of ourselves, and about other people’s potential perceptions. Sometimes this feeling is welcomed; other times, it’s downright uncomfortable.

I give you two anecdotes.

Once I tried on a drapey, buxomy Vivienne Westwood situation at Liberty. When I left the dressing room, the wise salesperson said that while the outfit was ‘different,’ I emerged with my head held high so he recommended it without hesitation. My confidence, and its preservation, were the deciding factors.

Secondly, I studied art history at uni with a much beloved feminist professor. We were discussing the Cabanel painting of the Birth of Venus in contrast to another of its time, Manet’s Olympia. My professor taught us that what made Olympia so modern and (at the time) shocking was the eye contact and mental engagement of the subject, whereas Cabanel painted his model with her mental organ pinned down by her hand. In a weird way, I’m tying this back to hats. Your brain, probably the most sexy body part you’ve got, is inside that head of yours, so cap it off with something worthy of what’s going on in there. Don’t pin it down with ridculous cheap looking details. Go for quality. Go for something that makes you feel confident and then sashay into a room like Pippa down the aisle.

Or Philippa as the case may be.

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Eating

The way you eat may not be a style choice per se, but it says as much about you as the clothes you choose to wear – and like clothes, how you do it sends signals to the opposite sex.

Most people, whether consciously or not, associate food with enjoyment of life.  It’s sensuous, it marks occasion, and like sex, it literally keeps us going.  The more you seem to like it, the more you seem to like life.

Most men love food, and this is one of the things I love most about men.  They eat because they are hungry; they eat because they want to and they usually don’t count calories and beat themselves up about it unless they need to, like some genders I know.

Cough.

Before I serve up my opinions on food, allow me a caveat.  This blog is all about healthy women, healthy body image, healthy confidence and healthy sexuality.  Eating is part of this.  Do I judge habitual overeating? Yes, but not nearly as much as a pervasive culture of under-eating, food guilt, fictional allergies and intolerances, calorie counting and diet-of-the-moment mentionitis.

It’s. Just. Boring.

When it comes to food, get involved.  Order what you like and enjoy it.  And don’t be afraid to use your hands where appropriate.  Sure there are probably some rigid public school boys, anal retentives and Teutonic types who are so removed from their food and the pleasures of life that to see you digging in with relish will only freak them out.  There are also flaming chauvinistic fattists out there who think that any level of enjoyment of food means that you will explode in one year’s time.  We don’t like them anyway.

But do you know what men don’t like?  When we order daintily only to stare at and eventually start eating off their plates. If you want chips, order your own freaking chips. Don’t pretend you’re going in for one only to eat half.

I joke that men should dump women with food hang-ups.  Because if I were a man, I would.  And that’s because I know that if a women isn’t comfortable eating in front of a man, that’s just the start of a long list of things she’s not comfortable doing in front of him.

In these ‘post feminist’ times, we women spend a lot of time wondering why it is that we don’t yet share the complete set of privileges that our male counterparts do, whether it’s examining how we treat each other, how much money we spend on cosmetics and clothes or how our very genetic make-up, from brain and hormonal balances to our built-in ability to bear children, affects how we relate with the world.

While these inequalities are certainly unacceptable and likely down to a blend of all sorts of things, what I can say is this: devoting an inordinate amount of mental energy questioning a BASIC need for nourishment is not helping.  We’ve got enough on our plates.

Food is fun, comforting and sexy – just like a partner should be.  Let’s just dig in.

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Whisky

It’s no secret that a drinking woman is an easier target for men, who, despite whatever progress we’ve made through the years, still bear the onus of having to make the first move. But when they are scanning the bar, who attracts men most? A woman with a fruity drink, wine, a classic cocktail or a glass of hard liquor served neat? (I asked this question to one of my more depraved friends, who answered with ‘Which one is showing the most cleavage?’. Point taken, but this post would be therefore be over, so I’ll continue.)

I suspect men are impressed by women who can hold their liquor, especially when it is distinctly masculine. It telegraphs ‘I can compete’, which may lead men to believe they have found a genuine sexual sparring partner. Remember when Deadwood was at the height of its popularity a few years back? Seemed just a mention of that show and an order of whisky could give men, pardon the pun, wood. #shootingfishinabarrel

Here’s the thing about whisky – and about men and women.  Men like it when women know stuff, especially man stuff. In fiction and film, we have been conditioned to recognise a heroine, if, for example, she can fix a car. Knowing how and what to drink seems to be a hallmark of these types of women. If you know your single malts from your blends and why you sometimes add an ‘e’ to the spelling, you might just impress some people. Men people.

Also, different drinks beget different types of drunkenness. Tequila gives mad energy; gin can lead to some emotional swings; wine makes you warm, sometimes slurry, and wonderful. But what is it about whisky that opens the door to banter? Somehow, it seems to fire the synapses and the one-liners and snappy comebacks flow like…drink.

Ah banter. It’s the way the clever peacock; the sarcasm, the subtle one-upmanship, the laughter… the connection. It’s also a bit of a danger zone. Ask yourself: are those sparky jabs actually mean or disrespectful? And conversational tricks, while impressive, could be avoidance. Carefully divine what’s facade and what’s authentic, and watch your own delivery, too.

Yes, a man likes a woman who knows stuff. But remember my post on yellow, because they like ease and respect – a lot. They want you to know stuff so you can acknowledge and appreciate the stuff they know.

I am not betraying my feminist roots by warning you not to play too heavy of a hand – men don’t like overly competitive men, either. Instead, learn from my mistakes. I’ve been so carried with my own banter that I’ve watched that the subject of my wit walk, carrying away his whisky (and my refill). Keep your powder on the dry side and don’t banter men away before you get the attention and respect you deserve.

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The Smokey Eye

Men will always tell women that they don’t like heavy make-up. It’s just not true.  What they are saying is that they hope you don’t need heavy make-up. Unless it’s garish, men generally can’t assess if a woman is wearing slap or not.  There is an obvious cosmetic choice, however, that they universally like. No, love.

It’s a smokey eye.

Eyes are important.  We all know they are a ‘window to the soul’, and what frames this window better than dark eyeliner, often the more the better? Further, your local optician doesn’t have to remind you that eyes also do the looking. This is an important point in academia and feminist theory, with thinkers like John Berger stating that conventionally, men do the looking while women are the objects of a male gaze, not actively seeing but aware they are being looked at. If this were true, than surely a woman highlighting her own seeing eye is not only empowering, but the role reversal is titillating to the men caught in her path of vision.

It’s therefore not surprising that art and popular culture hold that sirens, from Cleopatra to Salome to Brigitte Bardot, have heavily painted eyes.  This has further trained men to recognise a sex pot by her eyelids.

A more light-hearted theory – my own – is that the morning after the kind of night where a woman wears eyeliner, the kind of night that includes a passionate throw-down, we all look a little like Alice Cooper.

At least, I hope we do.

I’ve heard rumours about women who stop a hook-up mid-play to wash their face.  Nick Hornby famously wrote a scene in High Fidelity, where main character Rob goes home with the sultry singer Marie (later played by Lisa Bonet with a smokey eye) only to find her so concerned with nighttime cleansing rituals that what he expected to be so hot and heavy was actually pretty… meh.

Similarly, I hear of women who prize sleep less than I do and get up early to do a little pre-coital primping. I can’t fault their efforts, but in both cases, I will say this: give men a little credit. When it comes to sex, they are so overjoyed to be having it that they forgive us many, many things. An extra pound or two, a surgically untouched vagina, messy hair and especially, some smeared make-up, all of which are likely to be more hot than not.

Time and time again, studies show that men say women who are good in bed are confident, playful, spontaneous and accepting.  And incidentally, all these attributes won’t just make us better in bed, they will make us better at life.

It’s hard and fun in equal measure to look and be seen – and clear vision is essential for hunter and prey.  The only smoke I want near your eye should be cosmetically applied, not a self imposed haze of doubt, anxiety or rigidity.

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Rihanna

That black dress

Today marks the birthday of the woman who currently features the highest on the ‘I would’ charts of my male British friends: Rihanna.  And why not?  This woman serves up her sexuality on a plate.  Did you see that black ‘Ode to Scarface’ number at the Grammy’s? That dress proves it. When it comes to dressing for men, Rihanna ‘gets it’. (And as a result, likely gets plenty of ‘it’, too.)

But is she getting it right or wrong?

At the risk of sounding old or possibly maternal, I worry about our RiRi. Here we have a woman who has been the victim of incredible violence within her relationship espousing in ‘S&M’ that ‘pain is her pleasure’ (and nothing else can measure, apparently). Her ‘We Found Love’ video features an addicted, damaged and abused woman – though I wonder if the lowest common denominator can divine if it’s a cautionary tale or an ambition. And even that dress – the one I loved – is based on Michelle Pfeiffer’s character in Scarface, Elvira Hancock, who despite being very desirable and snorting cocaine rather elegantly, is also drug addled and essentially owned by powerful men who mistreat her.

Believe me, my aim is not to attack Rihanna, especially on her birthday.  She is talented and beautiful and if I had a body like that, I’d probably walk around naked or nearly nude most of the time (hey wait, she does!).  What interests me about Rihanna is what sits at the heart of this blog – when it comes to attracting male attention, can we do it in a way that empowers us or is the very thought objectifying?

Women, Rihanna, MEN – hear me: there is nothing sexy about damage, and we can own our sexuality without emulating the most vulgar parts of it: promiscuity, domination or a loss of control. As this blog gets up and running and I talk about how to attract male attention, it’s because I am a feminist and I believe in anything – anything – that makes women feel good about being women.  That includes male attention (when it’s sought). And if chains and whips DO excite you, then I join Rihanna in saying ‘na, na, na, na, na c’mon’ to that, too.

All I’m asking is that we’re honest about why we make the choices that we do, whether those choices relate to our style or our lifestyle. Attracting men is easy; they are primal and visual and they are the first to admit it.  The trick is in attracting the right kind of attention in a way that feels guided by and true to no one else but you.

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