Today definitely seems to be a good day for drawing parallels and spotting trends. The further I go on my journey, the more convinced I am that the issue at the heart of much of the fuss is about bodily autonomy.

A lot of the critique of trans men and women comes from those who would deny us the right to self-express whilst, at the same time, demanding near absolute autonomy for themselves and their own bodies. No. I shan’t rehash argument for now on the trans front. Just note that the theme is there.

This morning, as already commented, is a bad day for women in France – not just muslim women, either – because the state has passed a law that declares that what women wear on their faces is a fit and proper topic for the state to legislate on. Nuff said.

As far as I am concerned, it isn’t – but then, those who would control others have never been too picky about basic principles of liberty.

And then from the sublime to the ridiculous: I open up my Facebook, to find a thread started by Tory Blogger, Iain Dale. He writes: “To woman doing her makeup on the tube. Do us all a favour, love, and get up 10 mins earlier. Or ion (sic!) your case half an hour.”

I’ll pass on the casual sexism of that last sentence: Iain, you ain’t no oil painting yourself, but you would probably regard it as rude if people passed such comment on your facial – or other – characteristics.

More seriously, though, it gets us back to control and the imposition of male gaze on female aesthetics, often disguised as social convention or “manners”.

Later in the thread, we are treated to the charming views of a certain Peter, who first claims its offensive and then, when challenged, ripostes: “Of course it’s offensive. It shows lack of consideration of others. That is the essence of ill manners. I should not dream of shaving in public, why should I have to endure the sight of women faffing around with their slap?”

Nice one Pete!

He then slides away into an off-topic diatribe about women putting on lippy and going through red lights and running kids over. I don’t doubt that people get up to all manner of bad things in cars, but adjusting lipstick is probably amongst the least bad behaviour when set beside lighting cigarettes, unwrapping sweets and jabbering on the phone.

I digress.

Here’s the deal. What a woman wears, how she dresses, is personal to her. Friendly (aesthetic) comment is fair: imposition of a standard is not. Its probably not the best of manners for someone to fix up their make-up on the tube (which therefore makes me an ill-mannered woman too): so I promise I’ll stop it. Just as soon as all men promise to undergo a scent test before entering a train and agree to get off if they exceed a level of BO that is acceptable to the women present.

Hey! Come to think of it, that’d make late night journeys a lot safer too. A double benefit.

I’m smoking (er, figuratively, that is: not literally!)



About janefae

On my way from here to there
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2 Responses to Autonomy

  1. andrea says:

    You used to be one of those smelly men…and your argument was always about natural smells trumping (heh!) the artificial laid on scents of women hiding their natural smells.

    You obviously have a far more sensitive nose now for natural smells…. but spray on the artificial in ways that can make me reel.

    Interesting shift.

  2. Emily says:

    …I wholly agree in principle, about bodily autonomy; and I often do my hair on the Tube. It’s 45 otherwise wasted minutes! Better that than pretending not to glare at the people opposite.

    …in practice, I get nervous for women I see putting on mascara, or worse, plucking their eyebrows on the tube. I don’t tend to use makeup, so maybe it does get to a stage where you’re so familiar with the process that you do it on autopilot. All the same, you’ve got a little pointy thing right next to your eyes, on a piece of transport which rattles and halts abruptly…

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