International Women’s Day…

quoteI’m not ashamed to admit I’ve taken a few drugs in my time. (The good thing about getting to this young age is I’m not afraid to admit to anything anymore as my Give a Fuck battery is running as low as my ovaries).

My early twenties were spent in London, weekdays pretending to know what I was doing in a serious of proper grown up post-university jobs, my weekends spent reverting to the comfort zone of being an irresponsible young person, going to parties, clubs and gigs.  Drugs were almost de rigour in 1990’s London… coke for parties, E’s for clubbing and various other chemicals for everything in between.

Then I grew up a bit (I really think adulthood should only officially start about 29) and the chaotic chemicals of parenting took over, condensing the cascading highs and lows derived from love endorphins and sleeplessness.

Now I live in a drug-free, but high and low world of hormonal changes as me and my daughter – her at the beginning of her reproductive years, and me at the end of mine – dance with our oestrogen levels like clubbers at a rave.    

As she prepares for her periods, I wish to fuck mine would just leave me a Dear John letter and get the bus. Peri-Menopause is like a Long Goodbye… just leave already!  “Goodbye eggs. Loved having you.  Sorry (not sorry) to see you go.”

I don’t need to take drugs anymore to affect my mood…. my body is doing just fine having a chemical meltdown all of it’s own.

The hormone havoc that is being played out in my female fury-ed house (I’m a single mum with three daughters – yes, welcome to the Horror House of Hormones) is like some sort of geostorm.  Bright sunshine one moment, lashing rain the next, thunderstorms at any time. I feel genuinely sorry for the younger two children who can be seen navigating the house by holding closely to the walls, unsure where the next rage will come from – their mother or their sister. 

But I rather like it. I like the feelings surging through me, the happiness so giddy, the anger so intense, they can’t be silenced.   I break into song and dance without warning, leaving the dog a shuddering wreck of nerves. Equally I can explode so fast, there is no time for a three minute warning for the kids to take cover.

I got so irritated by the hoover the other day, I just fecked the whole thing into the back garden, where still it lies, and will do until it apologises. And I will admit to feeling no shame.  It feels good to be angry.  It feels good to not hold back.  It feels good to be able to not give a fuck about crap like that, while giving a fuck about so much more important stuff.

Today is International Women’s Day… a day to recognise the power and beauty of the feminine and female.   I sat last night with a group of my women friends (under the pretext of talking about a book, but really we gather like a tribe at a watering hole, to talk about our lives, to laugh, to swill Gin and share ourselves).   Conversation went from the snow, to the book, to decor, and perhaps inevitably, to sexual assault. Because that’s were we are today. Thankfully.  As we went around the room and each told our stories, we realised how much we go through that we still don’t talk about.

In my mum’s day, body parts weren’t mentioned to such a degree that Breast cancer was whispered. I’m not sure I ever said the word Vagina out loud until I was in my 20’s. How glorious I felt  the other day when my seven year old (who went though the Vagina phase last year, and said it at every conceivable – and a few inconceivable – opportunity) asked what an anus was (she had heard it in Captain Underpants). When I told her, she was so delighted with her new word, she hasn’t stopped singing Your Anus!).  So we have made progress. But still not enough.

I look at my daughters on the cusp of their sexual, sensual, intellectual and emotional evolutions into young women, and I want them to know words, own words, and say whatever words they need to, without fear of being dismissed, demeaned or considered demented.    Be happy, be sad, be angry, be ambitious – be whatever they want to be.

I want to be careful that as we mark this day we don’t actually use it to talk about men. We don’t actually talk about the negatives of being a woman, and the vital fights that are still ongoing and necessary.  Today, as I chat to my girls at dinner time tonight, I want to talk about their potential, their dreams and aspirations and to talk about the amazing women we are seeing living feminism every day by being the best they can be. Isn’t that all we want?  The chance, the freedom, and the right to be the best we can be?

As we also mark the centenary of the Suffragettes, I want to focus on the potential rather than the position of women. As the early feminist writer Mary Wollstonecraft (most famous for writing A Vindication of the Rights of Woman in 1792), said “I do not wish women to have power over men; but over themselves.”   That.

But it was her daughter Mary Shelly (author of Frankenstein) who sums up where rage, not giving a fuck, #MeToo etc all lead to – “Beware: for I am fearless and therefore, powerful.”

Happy International Women’s Day.

About Grin & Tonic by Alana Kirk

Bouncing into middle age armed with courage, ambition and a pair of tweezers (chin hairs for anyone over the age of 45 reading this) I am a writer with a mission: to redefine this midway point in my life when the last thing I want to do is hang up my high heels and become invisible. This is the end of the beginning, not the beginning of the end. A single mum to 3 fabulous girls, an author, and a fundraising consultant, both ends of my candle are on fire. As I enter this new stage of my life, I want to explore what it means for 'mid-aged' women today, who were promised they could have it all, ended up doing it all, and just do not identify with the traditional image of middle age.
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