A friend said something to me recently, which gave me pause for thought. What she said was: ‘Miranda, you’ve *got* to start taking yourself seriously as a woman.’ She said this in response to the frayed, overstuffed handbag - and by handbag I obviously mean rucksack - that I’ve taken to carrying around with me… In the eyes of this friend, my wonderful carrying-sack is apparently an indication that I’m not ‘taking myself seriously as a woman.’
What in the name of Moira Stewart, Fiona Bruce and all the serious-est of the serious women folk does she mean by this?
Time for an exercise which I will call “Say It Out Loud With Miranda.’ Please take a moment to sit back, breathe, and intone: ‘I am taking myself seriously as a woman.’ Note your response…
What comes to mind when you say those words? Is it a fine lady scientist, a ballsy young anarchist with tights on her head or a feminist intellectual from the 1970s nose-down in Simone de Beauvior?
Or is it what I think my friend meant when she said ‘woman’, which is really ‘aesthetic object’. Clothes-horse. Show pony. General beautiful piece of well-groomed stuff that’s lovely to look at?
If taking oneself seriously as a woman means committing to a life of grooming, pumicing, pruning and polishing one’s exterior for the benefit of onlookers, then I may as well heave my unwieldy rucksack to the top of a bleak Scottish hill and make my home there under a stone, where I’ll fashion shoes out of mud and clothes out of leaves.
…And - I must ask - do men have to do this? Is this a thing for them too? What would it mean to ‘take yourself seriously as a man’?
Attention All Men - please put down the Top Gear annual and join me in a round of ‘Say It Out Loud With Miranda’. lean back and growl ‘I am taking myself seriously as a man.’ What springs to mind? Is it a single, a tool belt, and a roll of electrical tape? Or is it a sharp suit, a cocktail and the presidency of the International Monetary Fund? Or perhaps you suddenly feel the need to hole up in a dingy pub and start yelling ‘Ref!’ at the telly?
Whatever it is, it’s not likely to have much to do with grooming, or carrying a particular type of slightly-too-small and essentially useless bag masquerading as a clutch (good word).
Basically, it’s not got much to do with aesthetics, And aesthetics - if I may be momentarily shouty and hare-brained and mad (it doesn’t happen often but when it does it’s magnificent) - MAKE ME WANT TO STOVE MY HEAD IN WITH A HAIRDRYER.
—Miranda Hart (“Is It Just Me?” Hodder &Stoughton 2012)