1. You should write, write, write every day, and learn to edit and pare it right back so you’re proud of every sentence, and each one is either being useful or beautiful, but hopefully both.
2. You can tell whether some misogynistic societal pressure is being exerted on women by calmly enquiring, “And are the men doing this, as well?” If they aren’t, chances are you’re dealing with what we strident feminists refer to as “some total fucking bullshit.”
3. It’s difficult to see the glass ceiling because it’s made of glass. Virtually invisible. What we need is for more birds to fly above it and shit all over it, so we can see it properly.
4. We need to reclaim the word “feminism.” We need the word “feminism” back real bad. When statistics come in saying that only 29% of American women would describe themselves as feminist — and only 42% of British women — I used to think, “What do you think feminism IS, ladies? What part of ‘liberation for women’ is not for you? Is it freedom to vote? The right not to be owned by the man you marry? The campaign for equal pay? ‘Vogue’ by Madonna? Jeans? Did all that good shit GET ON YOUR NERVES? Or were you just DRUNK AT THE TIME OF THE SURVEY?”
5. A library in the middle of a community is a cross between an emergency exit, a life raft and a festival. They are cathedrals of the mind; hospitals of the soul; theme parks of the imagination.
6. A “sign of weakness” for a male celebrity is being found to be unfaithful, or unkind to an employee, or having crashed their car while stoned out of their tiny minds. A “sign of weakness” for a woman, on the other hand, can be a single, unflattering picture.
7. I have read more about Oprah Winfrey’s ass than I have about the rise of China as an economic superpower. I fear this is no exaggeration. Perhaps China is rising as an economic superpower because its women aren’t spending all their time reading about Oprah Winfrey’s ass.
8. When a woman says, “I have nothing to wear!”, what she really means is, ‘There’s nothing here for who I’m supposed to be today.
9. So this is why I can’t agree with “don’t feed the trolls.” When millionaire celebrity broadcasters and entire publications start trolling, ignoring them isn’t really an option anymore. They are gradually making trolling normative. We have to start feeding the trolls: feeding them with achingly polite emails and comments, reminding them of how billions of people prefer to communicate with each other, every day, in the most unregulated arena of all: courteously.
10. These days, however, I am much calmer — since I realised that it’s technically impossible for a woman to argue against feminism. Without feminism, you wouldn’t be allowed to have a debate on women’s place in society. You’d be too busy giving birth on the kitchen floor – biting down on a wooden spoon, so as not to disturb the men’s card game – before going back to quick-liming the dunny. This is why those female columnists in the Daily Mail — giving daily wail against feminism — amuse me. They paid you £1,600 for that, dear, I think. And I bet it’s going in your bank account, and not your husband’s. The more women argue loudly, against feminism, the more they both prove it exists and that they enjoy its hard-won privileges.
11. If you want to know what’s in motherhood for you, as a woman, then — in truth — it’s nothing you couldn’t get from, say, reading the 100 greatest books in human history; learning a foreign language well enough to argue in it; climbing hills; loving recklessly; sitting quietly, alone, in the dawn; drinking whisky with revolutionaries; learning to do close-hand magic; swimming in a river in winter; growing foxgloves, peas and roses; calling your mum; singing while you walk; being polite; and always, always helping strangers. No one has ever claimed for a moment that childless men have missed out on a vital aspect of their existence, and were the poorer, and crippled by it.
12. I cannot understand anti-abortion arguments that centre on the sanctity of life. As a species we’ve fairly comprehensively demonstrated that we don’t believe in the sanctity of life. The shrugging acceptance of war, famine, epidemic, pain and life-long poverty shows us that, whatever we tell ourselves, we’ve made only the most feeble of efforts to really treat human life as sacred.
13. For throughout history, you can read the stories of women who — against all the odds — got being a woman right, but ended up being compromised, unhappy, hobbled or ruined, because all around them, society was still wrong. Show a girl a pioneering hero — Sylvia Plath, Dorothy Parker, Frida Kahlo, Cleopatra, Boudicca, Joan of Arc — and you also, more often than not, show a girl a woman who was eventually crushed.
14. We must recall the most important of humanity guidelines: Be polite. Being polite is possibly the greatest daily contribution everyone can make to life on Earth.
15. “I’m neither ‘pro-women’ nor “anti-men.” I’m just “Thumbs up for the six billion.”
How do you come back from your lowest point? How do you drag yourself out of that black hole of nothingness that has consumed your life? For me, being diagnosed with Hidradenitis Suppurativa wasn’t easy. I now believe that if I can manage this skin condition, I can do anything.