I fucking hate the word ‘juggling’.
Not in the sense of ‘actual’ juggling. Then it’s actually a very neat description of ‘keeping a load of stuff in the air all at the same time’. If I were attempting to keep a handful of cheesy Wotsits airborne, that’s probably how I would describe it. Unless I was launching them at someone, which is always a distinct possibility, given how eggy I get.
My issue with the word juggling is that it is often used to describe keeping lots of tasks on the go at the same time. In fact, it’s utterly and completely over-used to the point of excruciating pain. The sort of pain that you get when you crack one bare ankle against the other when wearing five inch heels. Or the pain of running without a sports bra. Which is appropriate given that that word is rarely used to describe the activities of men.
We are used to hearing about women juggling. We seem to spend a great deal of precious time juggling our careers with our families. Or juggling ‘commitments’ or ‘work/life balance’ or even fucking juggling paperwork, meetings, making a decent Spaghetti Bolognese while answering the phone or applying lipstick in a moving vehicle. Everything seems to be a bastard ‘juggle’. On the rare occasion that we pause juggling and pop off for a well-deserved bit of recreation, suddenly everything varies by a vowel and we’re jiggling. And so it goes on in a seemingly endless parade of words that, although simple, are loaded with meaning and subtext.
It’s preposterous that some words naturally seem to assume heels and lipstick as soon as they are enunciated.
If at any point anyone sees it written that a man ‘juggles’ anything (other than a set of flaming clubs or a pair of big boobies at a Spearmint Rhino) can they send me a link? I’ll brace myself, as with the right amount of Pinot Grigio in place I might think we’ve time travelled to Space Year: NotFilledWithMisogynisticWankers and have a wobbly moment like Michael J. Fox in Back to the Future when his mum started to fancy him. In the event that I faint with shock (another exclusively female activity) then perhaps someone could seek out a piece of writing where ‘his curvy mature figure is flattered by a figure-hugging England Shirt’ to revive me.
Of course, what the word ‘juggling’ truly implies is that a womb is like a MASSIVE GREAT SCARY, WOBBLY THING that we GURLS have to constantly chuck from hand to hand and never let touch the ground. In actual fact, when you walk into a job interview that’s essentially what the person at the other side of the table sees: a big wobbly, unpredictable womb, flying around just DESPERATE to be impregnated. When you’re a working mum people stop seeing the flying wobbly womb and instead see a small bald gurgling person flying through the air (even if, in reality, that small gurgling person is actually 16).
Women are impeded in every sense simply because many of us have the capacity to issue forth gorgeous, grubby little bambinos. And in order to do this we have to (in the majority of cases) have sex with a man. We live in a country of such incredible discord on the subject of sex that by the merest suggestion of fertility or sexuality sends everyone into some kind of tortured meltdown, tearing at their inner conflict about what a woman should be – Madonna or Whore? Both? Neither? WHO ARE THESE SCARY BREASTED CREATURES ANYWAY???
Anyone would think we are deliberately trying to needle the world by waving our children and/or our breasts around as though we’re trumpeting “LOOK AT US, WE SHAG”. And in classic human fashion, what do humans often do when they don’t understand something? They treat it badly. Women are continually punished in the workplace for our capacity to fall pregnant, punished when we can’t work because of the inflexibility of many workplaces and punished just for walking down the fucking street ‘being all female and shit’. The movie ‘Dogma’ deftly parodied the ludicrous way in which women are treated when Jay & Silent Bob were caught hanging around outside an abortion clinic…
“We figure an abortion clinic is a good place to meet loose women. Why else would they be there unless they like to fuck?”
Over the years our country has proudly produced Benny Hill, all the Carry On Films, The Razzle Romp, Babestation and Nuts Magazines – all putting women in their rightful categories, using words that would never apply to men: Matronly Ladies, Nurturing Mothers, Unmarriageable Professionals, Eager and Willing Sexual Conquests. When Rashida Manjoo this week reported on the UK being a “boys’ club sexist culture”, I was pleased to hear the words both said out loud. However, I also sat on the couch wanting to leap up and shout “FUCKSAKE RASHIDA, YOU COULD’VE GOOGLED THAT.”
It’s the ‘pervasiveness’ that she describes which is dangerous. Dangerous mostly because we are so used to it that we have developed a system of behaviours to protect ourselves from it. Some of us even buy into this subjugated lifestyle and believe it to be the absolute nature of things (I never said all women are intelligent). Don’t speak out, don’t wear that, don’t go there, don’t argue. And for fucks fucking sake don’t complain. Because even the nicest, kindest, gentlest and most feminist of men (and despite the anger, many of us tit-owning, womb-shakers are actually rather fond of men. Some of us even like the total bastards) will internally roll their eyes when confronted with a woman who feels wronged by the way we are treated.
So as a country we have two choices:
1) We aim to see that tits, fannies, child-bearing and rearing and all the other glorious things that make women so magnetically attractive are simply treated as incidental, having no bearing on capability, activity or perception of the person. We continue to force the hand of the law, be brave, outspoken and encourage other women to do the same. Challenge everything, even if it makes us unpopular or, GOD FORBID, unfuckable. Instil these values into our children and never, ever bow to the pressure to be a nice, quiet, good girl.
2) We go all on a wild knuckle-duster wielding, nut-kicking equality rampage, Clockwork Orange-style, we wreak terror over this fair land until the merest flash of a page three girl sees your average bloke curled up in a corner rocking with fear because ‘those ones with the breasts are FUCKING TERRIFYING’.
For the safety and continued existence of our species, lets play the long game and I suggest that we hold 2) in reserve. Although I’m quite partial to the idea of Peace Through Superior Firepower. Particularly if it means I get to watch the founders of Babestation shit their Dolce and Gabbana Boxers.
Forty nicker a pair and paid for by exploiting men AND women alike. What a tragic leveller.