Perhaps the most offensively ignorant article I have discovered whilst browsing The Times for a fair while, the delightful Shane Watson’s anti-feminist diatribe takes the proverbial biscuit. The titular instance of a flopping rhetorical question ‘Who are you calling a show-off?’ is presumably an attempt at ventriloquising what she perceives to be the pressure of changed gender performances for the modern woman. ‘ These days, it’s not enough to have a high-flying job or four kids or a dream home,’ Watson complains ‘You’ve got to do them all at the same time.’ Interestingly, while she aligns herself as a fellow competitor with these “show-offs,” she appears to be propagating a regression to the dark ages, or for her the middle ages.
Of course, young, successful women in their twenties are wholly incapable of recognising the true sentiment of her article, so I had better stop writing. However, I disagree, so I shall continue. The sentiment which bubbles over uncontrollably throughout is an ascerbic combination of heartfelt bitterness and scalding vitriol. On reading the article, one is instructed not to ‘imagine this [her rant] is some freakish syndrome that bears no relation to your life experience’ and ‘[e]ven if you don’t have an inkling of it now, you will hit 38, or 42, and suddenly you will find yourself sneaking off to bed with property magazines.’ A little too precise for a generalisation, perhaps? The (in)credible author (or perhaps she would prefer authoress, to ensure she is competing within the correct category) of How to meet a man after forty is the ultimate proponent of the heteronormative dream – from the 1950s. Although I may be too young to understand, I plan to meet a man after forty in precisely the same ways as I would now: in a bar, at work, in a bookstore; then I would date his female companion. Perhaps my comments are naively influenced by the lack of pressure I feel to conform to the heteronormative matrix, or more likely, perhaps I choose to ignore it. I am neither ‘blam[ing] Helen Mirren for looking so hot in a bikini in her sixties’ nor am I ‘rattled by all the different lives being lived around [me],’ for surely they are products of necessary and welcome social change. I do not strive to “keep up with the Joneses” (not least because it is a horrific phrase), and my competitive streak which is arguably less of a highlight and more of a full colour does not confine me to the clique of career driven housewives. The ‘pressure to showcase our particular choices in the best possible light’ of which Watson speaks is not solely symptomatic of domestic rivalries, but rather addresses far broader issues such as social achievement and recognition to which she is seemingly blinkered.
Saying that, the article appears to have been derived from some deep-flowing hatred for the “domestic goddess'” Nigella Lawson, and her effortless ‘juggling’ of everything. So, one may ask whether showing off is such a bad thing after all, and according to Watson it is if ‘You don’t bother about impressing men, but when you’re going to see one of the Show-offs, you splash out on a new pair of shoes and earrings’ – but is it?
Should you wish to corrode your bookshelves buy here:
or, for far less depressing material try this: