I probably couldn't be less ‘Sex, drugs and rock and roll’ if I tried. But if you've picked up any fashion magazine in the last year, you’ll know that ‘rebel’ is what we are meant to be right now. To my knowledge nobody has caused a riot by wearing a leather-sleeved top and a tartan skirt. No boundaries have been pushed. I doubt that anyone has wrestled with whether they can dare to wear a particular garment more so this year than they have any other. That got me thinking; to be a rebel is to resist convention, yet our standard idea of a rebel is in a lot of ways the social norm.
I heard of a woman leaving her work so that she could be a stay at home mum. That didn't sit well with some people. How lazy is it of her not to work? Surely she is resigning herself to a sad existence if all that she is to be is a wife and a mother? In reality though, does that not make her the boldest woman in the room? The one who has chosen to do what she feels like doing despite the opinion of others, to challenge what is expected of her, to break the mould. If her family can get by on her husband’s salary, then why isn't that OK?
I can’t help but feel that in our fight against misogynist stereotypes, we have simply packaged ourselves into a different kind of box. Take sex as another example; women are now expected to feel proud of having slept around, to be empowered by it. It’s as if we've hit a time where the world now feels there’s something wrong with sex being about love. Or at the least, that there’s something wrong with it being just love, and just people, with no added extras to spice things up. For my generation, I fear those that bragged about what ‘base’ they’d got to as a 15-year-old may never have grown out of that mentality. Women would once laugh at how men spoke to each other about sex, but now they desire to emulate it. If anything, women probably speak more graphically.
Have we got so carried away with fighting old conventions that we've created new ones? Perhaps we need to re-think things a little. It’s right to fight against being told to shut your mouth and sit pretty, but that doesn't mean you have to shout the loudest. I could not be more pleased to see a new wave of women speaking out against the standards set by men’s magazines and music videos. Yet we also need to be aware of an equally dangerous pressure that comes from other women. Cosmopolitan is going to tell you the same things as Nuts, just in a more subtle way as it pretends to fight your corner.
As women I'm not saying we should go backwards, but rather that in order to move forwards we need to be careful not to pen ourselves in. Make sure that you’re doing what you actually want, not what you think you should. By all means, be impulsive. Be ambitious. Be brave. But be yourself too, because perhaps the woman who turns down a fantastic promotion opportunity to avoid stress, or the woman whose favourite thing to do in the bedroom with her husband is talk, are the most blessed and most rebellious of us all.
And whilst you're here, sign this.