The word ‘womxn’ is an inclusive term for trans/non-binary individuals and to irradicate sexism. It will be used throughout this article where I have used the term ‘woman’, I mean to indicate heterosexual normative values.
I woke up to the sound of my own fart. My fiancé, at the time, broke out in uncontrollable laughter. He thought it was cute. I was filled with shame and pretended that I was totally okay with the fact that the man I was going to marry was making fun of me.
It was frankly horrible. It is frankly still horrible that I sometimes feel the need to clench my butt cheeks together every time I feel the impending pressure of gas needing to be released. The problem here isn’t that farting in public is impolite; of course, we should think about others and prevent those with sensitive gag reflexes from regurgitating their lunch in small enclosed spaces. The problem is the fact that womxn are still perceived in a certain way by society. Womxn are still expected to be soft, polite, and have non-existent bowel movements.
Womxn are still expected to be hairless, manicured and never ever talk about how many orgasms they had at last night’s party.
If we thought equal pay was the end of the feminist movement, it's not — I say it’s not over until the fat lady farts.
Three waves of feminist movements have burst through history over the last 100 years. From the suffragettes to bras burning in the 60s. From Vagina Monologues to #MeToo. Progress has been made in terms of womxn’s liberation (especially so in the West). However, even in this liberated era, I argue that our culture and mindset still hasn’t moved far beyond what color lipstick Emma Watson was wearing when she spoke to the UN whilst launching the #HeForShe Campaign. And it’s not just men’s fault; it’s womxn’s too.
Despite trying to close pay gaps in the workplace, increased reporting of unequal domestic roles between heterosexual couples during CV-19, protests from Iceland to Poland, and womxn’s rising status in politics — womxn are still trapped by their own fears and insecurities. We need to break out of the photoshopped, Snapchat filtered illusion of what we are meant to be and revolt with all the courage we can muster on what we can become.
My best friend couldn’t shit in a cubicle at work for the fear that someone would know. This pained me. Not only for her bowels but also the idea that womxn are struggling to embrace what should be normal bodily functions.
Early last year, my main lockdown project was to experiment with discovering my wild womxn. It felt like a coming of age, which at 33 was rather ridiculous if you ask me. And yet, I’d reached my thirties and had never before dared to explore who I could truly become.
I’d been a good feminist who’d followed the norms of a modern world: I studied hard at STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Maths) subjects, I tried to put a crack in the glass ceiling (I worked as an engineer for 7 years) and I ‘Leant In’ (as Sheryl Sandberg had encouraged). Yet, in my personal life, I still felt bound by the expectations of the word “woman”.
In early 2020 I joined a 5-week womxn’s circle and ‘Trust Activation’ workshop to explore this inner me. Somewhere deep inside, I could hear her, the sound of the wild womxn waiting to be released. She seemed to be buried underneath the heteronormative social conditioning that I had grown up with — one where a small dominant population still dictates the direction of our values, and womxn alongside minority groups, are continuously marginalized. She’d also been crushed by years of misleading stories from magazines and TV shows telling her that she needed to excel in certain multi-talents: be a make-up artist, manicurist, hair-removalist, stylist, fitness guru, domestic house-partner, bedroom minx, interior designer, expert photoshopper and professional pouter. It has felt suffocating my whole life.
I logged onto a weekly Zoom call with 30 other womxn, equally expecting to be released by society's shackles. We danced ecstatically in our bedrooms together; we were encouraged to rage and scream into pillows to die-hard soundtracks, we shared all our pain on sexual abuse, shame, and harassment. I videotaped myself doing a striptease and sent it to a friend. In my urban box in London, I was discovering my inner wilderness. I was discovering the new edge of feminism, the post-feminist, and it not only excited me but also empowered me.
I live in a bubble which I wish to extend and invite you into. In my bubble, my girlfriends and I sit around to talk about the length of our armpit hair and, in that same breath, discuss how to navigate consent and boundaries. We share tips on which moon cup we use and where we are on our menstrual cycle. I start conversations casually with strangers about if I am bleeding to help them understand the mood I might be in (my landlord recently politely asked me to reframe from oversharing my biological functions with him, I call this a success). We talk about the erotic and reclaiming it in our polyamorous, ethical non-monogamous lives—conversations circle around Audre Lorde, Olive Morris, and Angela Davis. Poems are written about the seductions of a song and lychees. We discuss our sexual interests and desires of men and womxn, edging to inquire about our fluidity and queerness. We talk about our “yoni”s and pleasure activism. We put makeup on when we feel like it, and not if we don’t.
I’m aware that this is probably not “normal”. Fuck “normal”. What I want to see in the world are fewer womxn still invested in products that are completely useless towards their sense of wholeness, sexiness, and beauty. Womxn who don’t feel the need to have to buy outfits or act a certain way to “fit in” to society or hide from the world. Womxn who will wear whatever they want, when they want and how they want to. Womxn who are secure in their attachments and know their worth. Who embrace their body shape and size and don’t go through life having never seen the range of nipples or vaginas other than their own (or from a porno) and think there is something wrong with them (I was self-conscious about my nipples for years until a girl flashed me hers in a restaurant and I found my doppelganger).
I don’t think we’re there yet, and I believe the work lies within each of us.
I stopped buying clothes (for sustainability reasons) and stopped washing my hair. At the peak of my rewilding-thyself project last year, I turned into an Asian hippie girl walking around barefoot experimenting with drinking her period (it's full of stem cells!). My flatmates, to say the least, were less than pleased. However, it turned out that despite my descent into a level of feral that would make the Victorians blush with shame, I could still get laid and get laid well. You see, I had this fear that by embracing all of me, I would be repelled and rejected by both society and men because I was no longer that perfect hairless manicured girl-next-door.
I succeeded in having a record number of orgasms in one session (7 to be clear).
By letting go of what I was “meant” to look like or be, I let go of my anxieties and fears. I let go of the churn in my brain of how I was supposed to perform in the role of “woman” and embraced who I am — a child of the Earth, a free-loving wilderness of energy and beauty. I started to fall in love with myself. I embraced my flaws and scars, and grey hairs. As my confidence grew, so did my sexual gratification, and I discovered that these two were directly correlated. I found my voice to better communicate my needs and boundaries and learned that I was so much more than the box I was supposed to fit into.
It’s been almost a year since the start of this journey, and I’m ready to come out. I want to open up the conversation about shitting, shaving, and sex. There’s no right answer, but there is this invitation for us to talk more. To bring light to those parts of us that are ready to burst from the dam of shame. (As Brené Brown says, the antidote to shame is to say it out loud.)
So, feminists of the world here’s my call to action for you: Reclaim your wild womxn. Reclaim your right to be bold and proud. Fart loudly, leave your hair as you please, talk about your periods and enjoy your sexual being with those you deem worthy.
We are the fourth wave of feminism, we are the post-feminist, and it’s not over until the fat lady farts.
Post-feminism is the term coined for the metamodern feminist. One who believes that individual and collective ‘psychological development’ is needed to tackle the complex and fluid issues of gender and sexuality without imparting blame solely on the patriarchy and aspire to a vision of a balance between feminine and masculine values for all genders.