Every few months I have to have a bit of a gripe about being a woman, or more specifically, what we do to make things worse for ourselves. Women’s only races, comedy events like the Ladies Are Funny Festival or Vagina-ha-ha’s, (which I own the copyright to) and the general overuse of the colour pink to promote sistahood.
I also haven’t yet got over Saturday’s race so am combining the two gripes into one. One of the most hideous parts of the race was just as Melinda and I were making the turn into the finish. A couple of the teams that had finished hours before us were leaving and one of the blokes leaned out of the window and yelled, ‘looking good ladies’. Neither Melinda nor I are particularly girly at the best of times, but at this point we were sweaty, muddy and snotty and very close to beating a two-man team who had blown past us on the bike but were completely useless at kayaking. I thought about showing them just how little of a lady I am by blowing snot out of one nostril like the pros do, but I haven’t really mastered the technique and it just ends up landing on my shirt and shoes.
It’s bad enough getting the ‘ladies’ treatment when you’re in a restaurant or shopping but it’s even more patronising you’re working your ass off in a competition. And yet we create the environment for it. There’s a triathlon group in town called Iron Chicks whose logo is a fluffy yellow chick wearing a viking helmet and holding a spear. Not only infantile but stupid because as history tells us vikings ate live chicks to fuel them before raping women.
So if we’re not ladies then what are we? Damsels perhaps? ‘great job there damsels’. When I was in college I used to carry around a copy of ‘The Women’s Room’ by Marilyn French to prove my feminist credentials. I never read it but loved the cover because it showed a toilet door with the word Ladies scratched out and Women scrawled over the top. The fact that Women was written in red lipstick apparently didn’t bother me. Maybe I told myself it was patriarchal blood.
The final insult to the whole thing was that it turns out the bloke was lying when he said ‘looking good’. I pulled out my little compact mirror at the end of the race and saw that my brand new waterproof mascara had run all down my cheeks.