As Elvis was taking his last breath, I was preparing for my grand entrance into the world. As one legend took his last breath, another took her first. Growing up in the 80s to a traditional set of British parents, I had a very clear image in my head of gender roles. Men primarily were the breadwinners, the decision-makers, the manager of the family; while women were the loving caregivers, cleaners and caretakers of the home. Joan Acker argued in the late 80s that:
But I was a curious child, beyond my years. In an increasingly uncertain world, I found my comfort early on in the absolute truth of science and maths that gripped me then like my clit-sucking vibrator does now; rather than a system that relies solely on faith, and tells young children that touching their genitalia in the depth of the night is a sin. Sister Agatha couldn’t categorically prove to me that Jesus was real, yet algebra could prove beyond doubt that x=-1 in the equation 5x – 6 = 3x – 8. Formulae, equations and scientific experiments consistently gave a sole, correct, provable answer every single time, and as a true Virgo and control freak, I craved certainty in all aspects of my life.
Then there was my father’s influence on me, and he is as much of a man’s man as you can get. Highly intelligent but hilarious, strong-minded, and ambitious. Already a father to a daughter, when I popped out of my mother’s womb he was understandably disappointed. I was dragged to the Victoria Ground, back when Stoke were semi-decent, bought a quad bike and taken to kickboxing. I loved my mother, and her breath-taking femininity and figure, the way she applied her make-up and her elegance in heels; however I found my true happiness in those loud, expressive sporting days with my dad and I wanted to be like him, not my passive, discreet, timid mother.
Along with society, I was confused as to why women should fit into this neat box of only mother/wife/homemaker, and wanted to build a different box where I could add elements such as breadwinner/player as and when I chose. So a small percentage of us did. I went on to have the young family I craved, but I also had decent careers alongside as I when I wanted to and when it suited me.
I was awarded a job as a manager for a nationwide electrical company at age eighteen, and despite making positive radical changes for employees under my control, consisting predominantly of a middle-aged workforce, was sacked under a technicality because my managers did not like a woman in control. It was glaringly obvious that sexism did exist in the workplace and was a huge issue, and imagine the percentage that did not speak out?
Thankfully, we have come a long way now, as witnessed in my current capacity as a Director in the construction industry. When the men in my life passed their best before date, off I sent them, ready to make way for another as and when I wanted one (or two). I knew that this wasn’t the ‘norm’, but I also questioned the norm early on in life, and therefore I really didn’t care if I fitted society’s expectations of me or not.
Maybe this sexist treatment of me was another reason why I felt so inclined to take what I wanted from men sexually, when I wanted it. Or maybe I’m going back to my roots in academia and being too analytical; maybe I’m just a horny bitch. I’m a firm believer that people should go after what they want and do what they want to do. We should judge people on how they treat us. Someone’s career choice, diet, hobbies and sex life are really none of our concern if not criminal. Back at the turn of the century (Christ, I’m old), this way of thinking was radical. Now, not so much. Women today aren’t as frightened to take control of their bodies and their sexuality: look at the rise of Only Fans. Rebellion against years of oppression? Who knows? Does it matter?
Yet still the stigma is attached only to women. I’ll leave you with something to think about. You can go on a night out with the girls to watch the Chippendales (strippers) or equivalent. Usually in a well-known local hall or venue, tickets advertised everywhere, where you get to see men, completely naked, helicoptering their penises – slapping you right in your face with it if you’re lucky enough to get called on stage (so I’m told).
Words to describe these events in promotional and marketing ads: ‘fun’, ‘adventure’, and ‘humour’. Where is the only place you can go to see women perform to the state of nudity in the UK? What are the restrictions on advertising these venues? What is the general consensus about these kind of venues? What is the actual difference between them?
And you’re still going to tell me that society is not frightened of women’s sexuality?
Natalia is a published author with a Master of Research in Literature, Culture & Philosophy, and currently runs a multi-million pound construction company. Her latest collection of books is the erotic, non-fiction trilogy, The Vagina Travelogues. You can connect with her here.
- Acker, Joan. “Hierarchies, Jobs, Bodies: A Theory of Theory of Gendered Organizations.” Gender & Society, 4(2), 139–158. https://doi.org/10.1177/089124390004002002. (1989)
- Phillips, Anne. Gender & Culture. Polity (2010). - Turner, Alwyn T. Rejoice! Rejoice!: Britain in the 1980s. Aurum Press (2013)