So I posted this meme on Facebook:


Now I seriously lament that portion of the female population that thinks that equality means behaving exactly like men. It shouldn’t mean the loss of individuality or femininity. It is entirely possible to be strong and feminine, and there is no need to lower ourselves to someone else’s poor standard in pursuit of equality.

But that wasn’t how I read this meme, principally because as a warcry “Freedom!” works a lot better than “Freedom*” “*subject to God, king and law.” As a lawyer, I well know the devil is in the detail, but sometimes the impact of what you want to say is lost if you qualify it with ten pages of exceptions.

But someone else read it as a lowering of standards too, and said that women being gross isn’t a good thing, it just adds to the amount of bad behaviour. So I thought about it more, and this is what I came up with:

“Gross” means something entirely different as applied to women (thank you, patriarchy). Because of that, this isn’t advice to be rude. It’s advice to claim for ourselves the exact same behaviour which is considered acceptable and standard (not gross) among men.

Here’s a list of things that currently are, or ever have been, considered gross behaviour in women, by either the entirety of society, or a subset of it, and which continues to be a persistent theme for a significant portion of the world’s female population (if not the whole of it):

So when the meme tells women to be “gross”, we haven’t even yet made it to the things considered gross in men. We’re talking about things thaty society considers its perfectly fine for men to do, but not women, because they are gross, unfeminine, or unladylike.

That, ladies and gentlemen, is the exact definition of a double standard.

So, ladies, please—be gross. Do all those things that men are allowed to do, but we’re told we should be ashamed of. Stop apologising for being female, stop taking responsibility for keeping the peace at all costs, be loud, be opinionated, and claim your half of the train seat.