what Came First Unequal Power Structures or Genitals?

June 8, 2014

I’m not going to post the link to the blog I’m responding too and I’m not going to pretend to remember having any thoughts about genitalia as a child, my brother had a penis and I must have seen it because we bathed together as small children I’ve seen the standard family photos and that’s about it. It wasn’t until sex education at school that I realised that peeing wasn’t the only reason I was made the way I was, I may have noticed my vagina before then but I’m not certain about that.

It was the emergence of breasts that brought about awareness of female bodies as something that was the ‘other,’. I was the 3rd girl in my year to get them unfortunately the first girl was rather large for a nine year old and she was immediately labelled a slag and the older boys wouldn’t leave her alone, girls and boys were cruel to her just because of a body part that she possessed that they didn’t.I remember being relieved that it wasn’t me, I also remember how confused she was and how upset at times and realising it could be me. Consequently hiding my breasts became part of my life, in PE and in swimming, I hated them and I started to hate being female as I had to hide more bits of me. Then of course as we got older the tide turned and the girls with no breasts and the girls that were large were mocked, picked on and generally treated in ways that expressed only their (sexualised) breasts mattered. I know I’m not alone in feeling like that as a child, teenager and young adult. I wish I could say it was different as a fully matured adult but I can’t ignore my genitals or others because nobody ignores mine (please stop talking to my breasts). Should it be different yes of course it should be, but the truth of the matter is we do make judgements based on genitals.

You might think my last statement is outrageous or simply disagree and that’s fine but my own experience of life shows me that it is true. I am a lone worker, I am a school caretaker and at least once a week I am explaining to a workman “yes I am the Caretaker and I’m a woman (woman can lock up a school shocker)” sometimes I am avoiding them coming on to me,(I’m working leave me alone ffs!) Btw having a man coming on to you when you are alone in a building you can’t leave changes the power dynamics considerably, almost in the way puberty does.  I have in the past hidden in the school, sometimes I’m nervous because their attitude has triggered alarm bells; I am always very aware that I’m alone and I’m vulnerable, they don’t ignore my genitals and I can’t ignore theirs. No this has never happened to me when I’ve been alone with a woman incase you’re wondering.

But then it’s not really about genitals it’s about power and you are assigned power or not according to your genitals,we know that historically men decided this assignment of power because let’s be honest female genitalia is much more powerful,multi functional and beautiful than men’s genitals, the penis afterall is tucked away hidden most of the time and it’s fragile as are the testicles (ask any man), no contest really, maybe that’s why the war on women was started in the first place ‘womb envy’ anyone?

The fact is women and men are socialised differently purely because of their biology and unfortunately women are taught they are weaker, lesser and the other, not the standard unit just a companion piece; this is what is wrong, being different isn’t what is wrong. Feminism for me is about being different but equal, it’s about recognising that the world is set up to suit men and their biology and not mine, this is what needs to change, if we pretend to not see genitalia nothing will ever change it will remain geared up to serve the standard unit, because equal doesn’t mean the same.


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Caroline Criado-Perez

A Pox on the Patriarchy


Lady things, explained.


"I have long argued that the giving of offence, and even hate speech, should be a moral matter but not a matter for the criminal law. That is as true on the football pitch as on the streets. We should always challenge racism. We should also always challenge attacks on liberties in the guise of faux antiracism." Kenan Malik

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