Last week, after spending the weekend getting paid to play records all night in a packed tent with three of my best friends, I borrowed a phrase from Naomi Wolf’s classic The Beauty Myth (‘Free women have more fun’) and stuck it up as my facecrack cover picture. I felt blessed. I enjoy a level of freedom previously unknown to man, and I have a lot of fun.
But as the week went by I got to thinking about what I actually meant by identifying myself with this quote. I got to thinking about freedom.
Freedom is one of those complicated concepts, like fun, that means different things to different people. I happen to be single and childless, but that doesn’t mean married people and parents can’t be free and have fun. I happen to be a woman, but that doesn’t mean men can’t be free and have fun. In fact, the whole quote reads ‘Free women have more fun. Worse, so do free men.’
In The Beauty Myth (published in 1991) Naomi Wolf uses the context of feminism and the diet industry to argue that free people having fun are a danger to society.
Twenty three years later, here’s why I think free people having fun are a danger to society:
1. We spend our money on things we want, rather than on things we’re told to want
2. We’re not afraid of loss and change
3. We know when we have enough and when we have enough we stop working
4. We believe cosmetics are a con
5. We wear lipstick for fun
6. We do not think that all women should look like teenage girls
7. We do not waste our short lives in a desperate attempt to look like teenage girls
8. Sometimes we play loud music and dance like we’re having sex
9. We understand and accept that we will grow old and die
10. We are excellent foragers
Freedom depends on accepting things as they are and enjoying ourselves as we are. Which is never going to sit well with consumer capitalism, which depends on creating dissatisfaction and then selling things that promise to make it better.
In my twenties, desperate to fit in, I was a good little mad person – bulimic, anorexic, depressed, addicted, anxious, overworked, too thin, too fat, bored shitless, broke and desperate. Ripe for manipulation.
Then I fell apart, which was lucky, because I got to put myself back together again on my own terms.
And now I am (relatively) free. Which is not easy, because I have to think for myself ALL THE BLOODY TIME.
But it does mean that I have a lot more fun.
I will be singing songs about love and freedom in the Acorn, Penzance this Saturday (17th May) in support of Rodney Branigan and Tim Snider. I reckon it will be quite fun.