Earlier this month, it was National Underwear Day. I had been meaning to write a blog on underwear ever since I first started this site so it seemed the perfect time to publish one. But, I didn’t end up writing anything. Why? Was it due to a bout of writer’s block, a broken laptop or even inexcusable laziness? Well, it might have been a little bit of laziness but mainly it was embarrassment. When I realised why I felt awkward discussing bras and knickers, I decided I couldn’t put off writing this any longer.
A few weeks ago, a friend came across Kiera Cass’s The Selection novels. “Thirty-five beautiful girls. Thirty-five beautiful rivals…” he read from the blurb as he scoffed. He then passed them to me, tongue firmly in cheek, and said “There you go, you’re a woman – this is for you”. I told him to get them away from me before I wrote an angry blog. We both laughed but weeks later, I’m still thinking about those books and here I am writing about them. But why do I care about some romance novels I’ve never read? Well, perhaps because our mocking of the genre soon turned to disgust when we realised these weren’t books for women fantasising about competing to be a princess – these were books for children and young adults which told them to compete against other women.
If you’ve noticed a sudden glut of opinion pieces about women over the last couple of weeks, it’s not a coincidence –it’s Women’s History Month (or at least it is elsewhere – the UK has not marked it since 2012 but that’s another point of discussion…). If you spent any of International Women’s Day online, you would have no doubt noticed an especially strong female presence. The one change I noticed the most though is not the increase of inspirational women but rather the rise of anti-feminist commenters – and it naively shocked me.
“This is what I’ve learned in my life: Headbanging is crucial. Growing up is hard to do. There’s nothing wrong with wearing a dress.” – Hayley Williams
When I first heard that quote around five years ago, there was something about it that jarred with me. “Headbanging” and “wearing a dress” just didn’t make sense together. How could a woman working in the man’s world of rock music encourage such a feminine fashion? Why would she choose to bare her legs when women had the right to wear trousers and, crucially, how could her ideas not match with mine? I was confused and disappointed by William’s words. Six years her junior, I was yet to understand that being feminine and being feminist were not exclusive.