As my readers will know, I LOVE Deborah Frances-White and her podcast, ‘The Guilty Feminist’. Well, now she’s written a book of the same name and her book tour ended in Brighton. You can buy Deborah’s book from Waterstones here. My friend and fellow blogger joined me for an evening of giggles, roaring laughter and poignant moments of understanding.
We had a ‘Guilty Feminist lock-in’; by Deborah’s own admission she was tired and no longer censoring her narrative. We were in for a treat!
She started by talking about ‘habit’ as something we repeatedly do to keep ourselves safe. For some of us, there comes a time when a behaviour is no longer useful and so we need to shed this habit. I found this really interesting. Colloquially, we refer to habits as negative, irritating behaviours, but reframing a ‘habit’ as a protective behaviour makes trends in our behaviours more understandable.
My habit of replacing love with sex is no longer keeping me safe – mentally or physically, so it’s time to ditch that habit.
(I notice that Deborah repeatedly pulled her glasses down from her head, put them on her face, opens the book to start reading, then put her glasses back on top of her head and remarks on something else. This has the audience in hysterics and is a testament to her comic background).
She reads two chapters of her book – some of the commentaries are of old favourites from the podcast: Deborah admits to leaving a women’s rights march one time to pop to a department store just to use the loo, but then she got distracted trying on face cream and when she went out to rejoin the march, it was gone. Asking the audience who has left a march before and who has remained for the duration of a protest, she quips that ‘there are more Leavers than Remainers; that’s got us into a lot of trouble, to be honest.’
Last week, Deborah joined Dolly Alderton and Pandora Sykes on their podcast The High Low. They spoke about Deborah’s book, body confidence and how we can use our privilege and influence to support others who don’t have any privilege or influence. Dolly Alderton has also recently published a book – Everything I Know About Love which is a hilarious read for anyone who has found themselves single in their 20’s.
Our worries about not ‘getting feminism right’ are rife; Deborah Frances-White built a whole podcast around these worries for Christ’s sake! (And Polly Vernon wrote a book). We need to remember that shaving our legs does not make us bad feminists, nor does being a wanton sex goddess, or needing a taller man to help us change the lightbulbs in the kitchen. Feminism and ‘girly behaviours’ are not mutually exclusive – these behaviours don’t detract away from the bigger cause of equality. Much like women who date other women aren’t taking dating opportunities away from straight men (an opinion I recently overheard on the train!)
Not one to shy away from ‘heavy’ topics, Deborah tackles the #MeToo movement and reckons “It’s okay for men to be a bit scared and to think, ‘shit, what did I say?’ Women have been thinking this for years!”
Time, it would seem, is up.
The problem is that #MeToo is often depicted as an angry movement by angry women. Deborah notes that ‘you always look angry if you’re trying to disrupt the status quo’. She talks about ‘the woman at the end of the panel’ and how female comedians are often considered “not funny”. The Guilty Feminist podcast is a space to change this architecture with joy and comedy.
When I started writing this post, I hadn’t started the book yet. Two weeks later and I’ve nearly finished it. Emma Thompson was right; it really is ‘essential reading for the planet’.