Anthea McTeirnan: Sometimes it’s not that hard to be a woman

Broadside: From breasts to quotas and from knickers to periods, we women have so much to be glad about

Maya Angelou: “I love to see a young girl go out and grab the world by the lapels. Life’s a bitch. You’ve got to go out and kick ass.” Photograph: Chester Higgins jnr/The New York Times

Maya Angelou: “I love to see a young girl go out and grab the world by the lapels. Life’s a bitch. You’ve got to go out and kick ass.” Photograph: Chester Higgins jnr/The New York Times

 

Matthew Parris, a newspaper columnist and former Conservative MP, is not usually my go-to guy for life lessons. But in a freak Pollyanna-ish twist, and thanks to Parris, I have decided to look long and hard for the good in everything.

Remember that legend of children’s literature, Pollyanna? Well, Pollyanna invented the the Glad Game. One Christmas Pollyanna had her poor orphan heart set on getting a doll, but she found a pair of crutches inside the missionary barrel instead.

Pollyanna made up the Glad Game on the spot and decided to be glad about finding the crutches because she didn’t need to use them. Pollyanna was embracing her positive mental attitude while it was just a twinkle in everyone else’s eyes.

Parris had it out with the BBC’s Women’s Hour radio programme recently for being “so moany”.

“Is it really so awful being a woman?” he asked.

So here goes. In the name of Parris and Pollyanna, this is your guide to why it’s great to be a woman.

Breasts

Not a bad start to our guide, because breasts are brilliant. Yes, we know men have them too, but although breasts seem to have been preoccupying quite a lot of men for quite a lot of time, if anyone is going to get to enjoy them, it should surely be women.

And women do breasts so much better than men. We feed babies with them. (No need to get up at night in the cold to heat a bottle; just turn over, release a nipple and the child goes quiet. If someone had invented that, we would be throwing money at them.) We lie on them. We warm our hands on them (sorry, boys). We can dress them up or dress them down.

Breasts are best, and they are all women’s. Look but don’t touch. (Until you are asked; then enjoy.)

Quotas

Imagine you are going to get on a bus. There are already 16 women on the bus, trying hard to make sure the 140 men on the same bus have enough room to open their legs, spread out and take up the quota of space to which they seem entitled.

Podcast

In this election, 30 per cent of those fighting for the seats on that bus are women. Not all of them will get a place on the bus, but we are in the queue.

Women do not just vote on gender lines. No, ma’am. We vote for policy and ideology. But getting a choice to vote for someone who looks even a little bit like us is winning as far as we are concerned.

Are we “moany” about quotas, Mr Parris? Nope. A lot done, more to do. Quotas, we love you.

Knickers

Red, pink, black, yellow, white. Every which way but loose. Actually, sometimes even loose. Do we care that they are sexy? Sometimes. Do we just want them to be comfortable? Sometimes. Have a peek at men’s underwear and weep.

Never mind the gussets: women are definitely on top in the underwear department. We can work our way up from there.

Periods

You just popped a paracetamol and weren’t expecting me to say that were you? Well, what would Pollyanna or Parris do when confronted with a week of bleeding, stomachaches, headaches and whatever you’re having yourself? Would Matthew get moany? No, he would just man up. Wouldn’t Pollyanna just be glad she is a women? You bet she would. And so will we.

Periods bookend the main, well, period of our lives. From your first (welcome to womanhood) to your last (welcome to a new era of . . . to be decided), periods guide us through the magnificence of being a woman in all its gory glory. They unite us, and unity is strength.

Forget bloody hell; this is bloody heaven. And it is ours.

Sex

Women can jump off the top of the wardrobe as well as the next man. And enjoy it too. And, good news ladies: our sexuality is more fluid than men’s. Particularly as we age.

Researchers at Boise University in the US found that 60 per cent of heterosexual women have been sexually attracted to other women and 45 per cent of them had “made out” with another woman. What “made out” means exactly we will leave up to your imagination. That shouldn’t be a problem, however, as half of all women have had fantasies about it anyway.

Discrimination

Yes, discrimination. Discrimination is a many-splendoured thing. And there is no need for our optimistic friend Pollyanna when we have Maya Angelou on our team (she might have died in 2014 but her spirit lives on).

We will always think it is great to be a woman. It is a broad tie that binds when so much divides us.

You can stop us sitting on your electoral bus in equal numbers. You can stop us having agency over our own amazing bodies. You can pay us less. You can murder us. You can rape us. You can punch us. But we have our biology and we have our bodies and our beauty. So, most of the time, we are glad to be women.

Who wouldn’t want to share a gender with Maya Angelou? As she “gladly” wrote:

You may write me down in history

With your bitter, twisted lies,

You may tread me in the very dirt

But still, like dust, I’ll rise.

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