The bleedin’ obvious.

Courgette flowers in my garden

Apparently there are both male and female courgette flowers. The males are more showy, they attract the pollinators. Only the fertilized female flowers bear fruit. I have managed to get to the grand age of 60 years before discovering this. Recent events have got me reflecting on the experience of being female and I warn you, if you are of a nervous disposition you may not wish the read on…

The events I refer to are:

-the recent mass shooting in Plymouth

-the recent events in Afghanistan

One cannot engage with such matters without considering deeply how we see women in our societies. And, as a woman, how we see ourselves. It seemed to take moments after the deeply tragic events in Plymouth before I came across deeply misogynistic reactions to the actions of the shooter, a deeply troubled young man who clearly needed more support than is currently available in UK social services thanks to austerity. The tweet I saw has since been deleted by the poster but there have been others of course. They place the blame squarely with women, especially feminists. Claims that lack of access to sex diminishes men who find themselves unintentionally celibate, a state which drives them to become aggressive are widespread. This victim blaming is all too familiar.

Further abroad, my heart aches for the wonderful women who have worked so hard to examine their place in their society and to push back against those who would prevent them getting an education and playing a full part in the world. They are now facing very real, existential threats from Taliban occupation and I only wish more could be done to prevent them losing their freedoms. When did freedom become a right only for those with certain genitalia?

When I arrived at puberty back in the ’70s I still remember clearly being inducted into unfamiliar territory which, I now understand, shaped the way I viewed my gender. When my first period came along my mother (brought up by her grandmother so possibly somewhat old fashioned in her ways) explained that I would be using sanitary pads during menstruation. These were to be disposed of by burning the used ones on the solid fuel boiler we then had in the kitchen. I still recall the anxiety I felt when smuggling the dirty pads into the kitchen under cover of darkness, praying that my dad or -worse still – my younger brother, would not see me and ask what I was doing. I took from this that being a woman was a rather unattractive, unpleasant fact of my life. I’m sure that young women these days do not have such taboos forced upon them in the UK at least, although period poverty is a very real fact of life for them still.

If you are male and you are still reading – thank you! Please understand the fear, shame and anxiety that women face throughout their lives. Further deepened by feelings of guilt if we fail to live up to expectations foisted on us by a society that idealises motherhood, sets unrealistic expectations through fashion and other industries and persists in using female characteristics as markers of weakness – clearly we are just girly swats. By the way, why is misogyny not yet recognised fully as a hate crime?

“Making misogyny a hate crime sends a message to our society, to our police and to our criminal justice system that enough is enough. Women deserve respect and attacks against us motivated by our sex or gender must be taken seriously. “

http://Making misogyny a hate crime sends a message to our society, to our police and to our criminal justice system that enough is enough. Women deserve respect and attacks against us motivated by our sex or gender must be taken seriously.

This postmenopausal woman is glad to celebrate all that is the female life experience. We are strong, especially when we act together, and the world would be a worse place without us. I know that now. Sadly this is a lesson still to be learned by others.

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