I’ve just got in from a visit to my grandparents’ – they’ve got political views that could slaughter a sacred cow, but I love them. It’s the you-read-the-daily-fascist-but-you’ve-made-me-a-beef-wellington type of love. Ian McEwan calls it enduring love. What’s a family meal if “the Guardian’s ruined this country” doesn’t burn your lefty soul as you fork another piece of lemon meringue pie in your face?
And so I’ve returned to London, through the grime-slicken streets of Mile End and there, splattered all over my Facebook feed is Happy International Women’s Day. I bristle like a brand new toothbrush as men and women alike find a role model and share their story amongst friends. They have entered into the Social Media microcosm of roused conscience; the disturbingly prevalent concept of selective indignation. Pick a day to empathise, but no more, pick a fight to follow, but forget it tomorrow.
Perhaps the copious amounts of red wine and the fact I’ve cleared out poor Old Mcdonald’s farm of roast joints this weekend has made me bitter.
Nonetheless, I have pictures of inspiring women flowing like hot lava through my feed from my male counterparts, and, as Louis Armstrong would sing in a gravelly but nonetheless dulcet tone, “and I think to myself, what a wonderful world”. Fourth wave Feminism may just be catching on. But something nags at me, I’m like a kid chewing keys; I’m loving these pictures, but each glimpse of Mary Shelley and Pankhurst hurts just a little. Maybe I’ve got indigestion?
No, I’ve caught my tender gums on one particular guy. He’s got a mass of blonde hair; it looks like a bird shat out a fully formed nest on his head, ready for that annual Easter bonnet competition. His politics shift like the unpredictable tide, depending on what person he’s speaking to, or what job he fancies. This bumbling pleaser is a Feminist. When I first met him at a peculiar conference in Birmingham, I practically dropped my Bridget-Jones-sized pants at his feet upon hearing this. As he plasters his Facebook wall with women who have shaped history, he embodies such selective indignation. Behind each beautific smile of a 1940’s hero, he undermines our push for equality by treating women awfully in the present. Dear Mr Darcy. Don’t you see? You’re systematically undermining these great women you praise day-by-day, kiss by sly behind the bike-shed kiss.
Social Media has forced us to focus on how we are perceived, over what we are. We share to get clicks; each click is a sure sign of respect or support. Don’t get me wrong, I love Social Media, it’s my world – after a weekend in the boonies I cried with joy when I got to a 4G zone, the majestic reappearance of Internet access was like the return of the prodigal son. Facebook, Twitter, whatever, has however, heightened our need to be accepted and to be “liked.” We can afford to be selectively indignant on Facebook, say the right things to the right people, but we may have forfeited honesty in the process.
Give me International Women’s Day, by all means, give me indignation, but for the love of God, give it to me straight.
“The Guardian’s ruined you, Georgia!”
I know Grandma, I know.