How are you reading the word? Are you visualising me 'tutting' and rolling my eyes?
Are you imagining me saying it in a bitter, resentful tone of voice?
Perhaps you see me smirking as I write, with a hint of lasciviousness.
Or are you visualising the female gender made manifest in flesh, marble, or wood?
The truth is, none of the above are accurate. I'm sure a good number of people would choose one, or suspect one was intended.
Last year, we saw the whole Anita Sarkeesian issue erupt, horribly, showing quite how bleak and bile-filled our industry - and society as a whole - can be to women.
Whenever a woman says something or does something that others disagree with, the Ad Hominem attacks begin, usually starting with her looks: clothing, hair, face, weight, choice of shoes, choices to have a child/not have a child. All are fair game, relevant or not.
I know I'm not the first to point out how weird it is that women - regardless of status, position or merit - are routinely judged for their appearance over all other considerations. But this was highlighted for me again by a recent event involving Amanda Palmer.
For those who are not aware of who she is, she's a songwriter/performer who has famously found her audience alone can support her songwriting, with no publisher or record-label involvement. An Indie, one might say. Just to console the readers: this isn't fanboy-ism. I like some of Ms Palmer's music (I prefer her angrier, earlier work). I've been to one of her concerts, and found it an event I'd probably want to repeat. But there is no idealised worship here. I merely think she is intelligent, witty, and has written some good songs.
Ms Palmer recently appeared at Glastonbury (gently ignored by the BBC coverage) and was mocked in the Daily Mail for one of those oh-so-newsworthy 'wardrobe malfunction' moments.
What followed on the Mail's website comments was the usual tirade of hateful, debasing, disgusting misogyny that we, as an enlightened species should have stripped from our culture by now. I know one is not supposed to read comments, but these seemed somehow worse than usual - or perhaps I've avoided reading them for long enough for it not to seem 'normal'.
A majority of the comments were about the fact that she doesn't act/dress like a shiny, shaved little girly-girl. If you do not find this to your taste, that's your business. It's not something that should inspire abuse. Nobody would say the same things about a man.
At a recent concert in Camden, Amanda chose to make a retort to the Daily Mail in a song she wrote over the course of a couple of hours. She performed half of it naked, as a giant nose-thumbing to the newspaper's salacious/moralising tone. In it, she points out that when male stars try to be shocking by dropping their pants on stage (which they do from time to time) it is treated with a shrug. If a woman does it, the epithets begin to fly, and the frothers begin to froth.
For those who fancy it, the video is below (and apparently NSFW):
Through being a woman, and daring to eschew certain conventions of femininity, she apparently produced such a storm of anger that it arced over into criticisms of every other area of her life, professional and personal. Much like Ms Sarkeesian.
One final comment caught my eye: 'She's talentless. What is she good for? Certainly not for marrying.'
I'm hoping it was ironic. Really, really hoping.
This is what inspired me to write this little post. Ladies and gentlemen: if you have daughters, I urge you to look at the media you consume, in whatever form. Whenever you see something negative printed/posted about a woman, pause and think how you would feel if it were said about your child... and try to imagine if that would ever be said of a man. You'll frequently find the answer is 'no it would not'. If this happens, then throw out that trash, or delete the link.
I, for one, hope your children turn out more like Amanda than the shaved, dancing sex-dolls trotted out in the name of entertainment. I hope they grow up to be confident, and independent, and strong in their beliefs, and unafraid to voice them, and happy with their bodies - whatever the shape, and can think for themselves, and through their determination and confidence change society into something that can see the word 'Women' as a just a word, and not an epithet.