Up front, I’m not a fan of “most influential” anything lists, however I do like/admire several of the women on the latest such list doing the rounds at the moment, and I do think they have done more than their bit to challenge the stranglehold destructive orthodox attitudes still retain on our society.
But. When I read the blurb accompanying nominee Chrissie Swan, I felt like poking out somebody’s eyes. I don’t know who wrote it, but in one sentence they undermine the stated ethos of the entire “most influential” thing, and reveal what really occupies the minds of organisers of contests such as this one, which is the value or lack thereof, of a particular type of woman.
Swan is described thus: “An earthy antidote to the proliferation of bourgeois, pearl-clutching yummy mummies, Swan’s influence lies in simply being herself.”
Where do I begin. I am so offended by this statement I can’t think quite straight, and I don’t even wear pearls. I did once own a very nice strand of quite good pearls with a garnet clasp, but I lost them because I am careless and do not understand the value of such things. I also like to think I was in my bourgeois youth a yummy mummy. I just dug out photos of me giving birth to my second child in a bean bag in our lounge room and my fingernails, as I thought, were manicured and painted bright red which in itself ought to be testament to my yumminess.
I was during this period entirely myself, despite my middle class circumstances, my yumminess and my pearls. Who else could I have possibly been? Can a woman only be herself if she owns no pearls, and works very hard not to be yummy? If the only real woman is the “earthy” non bourgeois variety that likely disqualifies most of the other nominees, none of whom look particularly “earthy” and all of whom look middle class, although Germaine Greer is if not earthy, at least a little bit scruffy.
Anyone with a skerrick of talent ought to be able to describe Chrissie Swan without resorting to pejorative remarks about women who are not Chrissie Swan in order to establish Ms Swan’s credentials. That the organisers of a most influential women contest have failed at this elementary task is discouraging for feminism and makes something of a mockery of the whole venture, despite their intentions to the contrary.