Women do not

Here it is then, my first post for 2015 – not quite what I thought I’d write, I was hoping for a more enlightened brain-child, since it was such a long time coming, but the muse spoke and I did not argue (much). I do apologise for the lengthy silence – I was off trying to fit all sorts of living into my life. I am back, albeit rather hungover (and not only in the physical sense of the word), broke, and harried. In other words, nothing’s changed much.

John Lennon (apparently) said that life is what happens when we’re making other plans, and I for one am not keen to question his wisdom (although I must point out the irony in the fact that death is kinda what happened to him while he was making other plans – as I assume it will for all of us).   This post is what happened while I was making more grandiose plans (I was going to write about the true meaning of the word “home”), and I hope that it may bring you at least some small sense of recognition, unless of course you truly are the perfect woman. In that case, or in the case of high sensitivity, perhaps go read something else. This post is full of rather gross topics such as the intricacies of pooing and sex (not at the same time, I hope), and yes, it was in fact rather awkward for me to post it on my blog. But I really needed to get it off my chest, having increasingly run into the odd assumptions I and others have cultivated about ourselves and our roles.

To be exact: I have been working on supposedly easy things such as not armpit-hair shaming others, going to the toilet when others know what I’m doing in there, dealing with sweaty palms, semi-quitting makeup – and it has been surprisingly hard. There seems to be two ways of being, if you’re a woman: 1. shave, deodorise and perfume, mouthwash and floss and brush, shampoo and condition, pluck eyebrows, cutex toenails, scrub and lotion and buff and use toner and put on makeup and wax the bikini-line and drink lots of water and exercise, and don’t get anything else done ever. 2. Don’t do these things, but constantly feel behind and apologetic, especially should you ever find yourself in a compromising situation (what’s worse than getting frisky with someone and then remembering you haven’t shaved your legs?), and basically unwomanly. So here’s my list of stuff I know I’m supposed to not be doing but am having some trouble not-doing all at once.

– A woman does not allow her armpit-hair to grow past, at most, three days’ worth. Also not her leg-hair, and if she has a hint of a moustache she waxes it, and if she has to wear a bikini she ensures that no stray curlies peek through. Even if that means having her asshole waxed – I don’t know about other people, but that’s the one area I tend to forget about, which then bites me in the ass when I find that my bikini is doing some ass-biting of its own. Also, am I the only one who worries about asshole-fluff during sex from behind? I always spend an inordinate amount of time wondering whether it is ruining the view.

– Women do not sweat, they perspire (to quote a teacher who once, albeit tongue-in-cheek, told our class this). In other words: they do sweat when they are working out (which of course they faithfully do), but in that case it’s simply an attractive sheen, or a cute little trickle seductively sliding down some ample cleavage. There is no such thing as armpit sweat (just in case there might be, we shave). There is especially no such thing as crotch-sweat, and sweaty palms belong wholly to the teenage-boy universe. This poses a slight problem to me, as I have an overeager thyroid which overeagerly delivers water to my hands and feet. I have spent entire relationships avoiding ever holding my boyfriend’s hand or taking off my shoes. I have even repeatedly tried hands-free sex. This, as you might imagine, is not the funnest sex you might find, unless (I would assume) you’re bound to the bedpost, which I was not. My job also involves holding (and sharing) a microphone, which can become rather embarrassing when I have to hand it over to my unsuspecting colleague. And ordinary stuff like playing the piano or writing with an inky pen becomes a waking nightmare.

– Women do not have ingrown toenails, ingrown hairs (especially on their bikini-line), blackheads, or (god forbid) boils. If they do, they may only talk about these in hushed tones with female friends, profusely apologising for the disgusting topic beforehand, and only to ask advice about getting rid of these magnificently unfeminine problems (periods, birth control, orgasms – all of these we may discuss, but not boils). Men shall not ever be informed of the problem. If a woman has a pimple on her butt, she shall sit down resolutely whenever needs be and ignore the fact that said pimple is caught between a rock and a hard place. Beauty is pain. No guts, no glory; and my favourite: fake it till you make it (this also seems to apply to orgasms, but that’s a whole post of its own).

– Women do not stink. If they ever do stink, it’s of sex, which is forgivable as long as the scent of man is the leading note. Sweat, of course, is unforgivable, especially when it’s that acrid sweating-under-dozens-of-sweaters-because-it’s-actually-winter smell. Smelly feet, if possible, are worse. Bad breath is understandable, but may only occur first thing in the morning, and must be gotten out of the way as soon as possible. And any other substance a woman secretes must be gotten rid of as discreetly as possible, before it can leave any olfactory hint of its existence. Even if that means buying those terrifying feminine wipe thingies that people freshen up with, even if it means perfumed tampons and pads and, I don’t know, douches.

– This brings me to one of the most pervasive “women do nots” in my own life: women do not shit (and it goes without saying that women do not fart). My one friend used to be so appalled by the realisation that women do actually need to do more than pee, that he and I started referring to it as “making butterflies”  whenever the topic arose, mostly as a joke, but also to spare his sensitivities. The truth is ugly, my friend. But we have found ways to mask it, as almost all of my female friends can attest to. (I am aware that not only women suffer from shy colons. I am not disregarding men’s often equally excruciating problem with this, but one must admit that it is amplified under the pressures of having to be feminine.)

Here are some of the solutions I have employed in order to not remind anyone of what I am doing in the bathroom:

1. Spray deodorant (instead of toilet spray, that gives the game away) beforehand, also under through the door so it creates a “seal” for any other smells to remain where they are.

2. Use lots and lots of layers of toilet paper, thereby breaking the fall of any deposits, and, as it be, cushioning the noise. Flushing the toilet at the exact moment you let rip also helps, especially if you have eaten something odd and are expecting some stray sound effects (this does require exquisite timing, though).

3. Wait until everybody is definitely fast asleep to tiptoe to the bathroom. If you have waited a few days, even better: you won’t even need to set your alarm for 3 a.m., your intestines will keep you awake until then, or wake you up just as you drift off into toilet-filled dreams.

4. Wait until you’re at the mall, or the movies. Then go, and when you come back, complain about the endless rows. Everybody knows going to a public ladies’ room takes ages. Someone might suspect something, but they can’t prove it.

5. This is my favourite, and it is guaranteed to work: don’t go to the toilet. Just don’t. If you really need to pee, but you’re afraid your rectum might grab the opportunity, pee in tiny doses. Trickle…wait….trickle….wait…trickle. Else, just hold it in. Yes, this might also involve having to hold in farts that become progressively worse as the day lengthens, but that’s all in a day’s work. You are either feminine, or you shit. There is no both.

If complying to the above things seems to take up a lot of time, despair not. Other women throughout the ages have managed to do so. In fact, nowadays women manage to have kids, have careers, have relationships, stay well-read and up to date on life, even blog, and sometimes sleep, all while looking incandescently manicured and very lightly perspirey.  It is my firm belief that the need to shit will eventually disappear into thin air if we keep at it long enough. This is what I tell myself, in any case. No, it doesn’t make me feel any better, quite the opposite, but thanks for asking. But ask me again in ten years’ time – I might have found a solution, or even better, stopped caring, who knows. This is what I’m really hoping for: that there is an option 3, namely to stop caring. In my case, don’t hold your breath, though.

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