Steel Magnolias (1989)

Attract everything but boys and money

Yep, that’s a quote from Steel Magnolias, the third in my writing. That film had quite an impact on my psyche. Probably because, even though it was directed by a man, it has a stella cast of women. And it was about struggles experienced by women. I mean, it did pass all three questions in the Bechdel test, which is why it stuck in my head so much. Even though it was about American southern women is are married or soon to be married, it does very well in the area of women supporting women. We really need it.

What, or more to the point, who do I attract?

I seem to attract those men who are broken, lost or living a lie. After a while you do start to think its you. Or maybe it’s arrogant of me? Fuck it, I’m sick of being apologetic.

I’m a strong, confident women who likes to talk and have opinions about every day stuff. But, I also know how to listen and acknowledge feelings and have difficult conversations. I’ve done enough self-reflection to know my own flaws (lateness, procrastination, mecurial and emotionally unavailable at times), but also know how much I bring to the table (stable, financially stable, communication pro, emotionally intelligent, confident, good cook, caring, gentle and sexually skilled) and I’m not afraid to be assertive and direct.

Online dating will no doubt be full of those who have been chewed up by love and realationships. But I just don’t seem to attract anyone. Ever. In clubs when I was young, in bars, in coffee shops, in lectures at Uni, at restaurants. Nothing. Nada. Well I did once get asked out in Tesco and also in a now bankrupt electronics shop. But I think it was desperation or a bet.

I was always been a people pleaser. Partly because of my dominant father and partly because of the societal demands on women. It eases your passage and helps with the crushing feeling of societal expectations baring down on you as a woman. I often forget just how much I live in a world which is neither designed for me or welcomes me, which is probably becauase I sink into the misogony and let it flow over me. Most of the time I’m gasping for breath, struggling to keep my head afloat in an ocean of judgement and expectations.

My father once said I had a very pleasing giggle. At the time I took it as a compliment. I was happy that my awful parent had acknowledged me and not only that had noticed this attribute about me and then commented that he approved of it. I was delighted at the time and took it to be that I was fun, joyful and happy.

What I didn’t realise was that I giggled for a number of reasons and none which indicated that I found something funny. I giggle to appear feminine, to signal that I find something that was said (usually by a man) funny and that I was non-threatening. I would carry on being compliant and fit the stereotype of how a girl (woman) should be.

This is simple, I laugh at others jokes to make myself appear girly and feminine and that I appear vulernable and need to be protected. Urgh

2. To appear non-threatening

Linked to the above, but goes further to protect myself from any scrutinty or worse, an attack either physical or verbal. It’s a way of making myself appear affable and agreeing with the speaker, who is in a position of power.

3. To be compliant

By giggling or laughing I am signaling that you can carry on and I will accept my role in this conversation/social setting. I won’t attempt to challenge or make you look stupid in front of others.

Now, we all do this to a certain extent in new social scenarios or at say, a work event and being English, there is much emphasis on being polite. There is nothing particuarly wrong with fulfilling society norms. The very fabric of civisilised society hangs on these contructs.

What I am refering to is the much more insidious behaviour by women which allows men to be the single voice. To be less of who you are for the sake of keeping the man in the position of power. To allow them to dictate to us as women what is acceptable and for us to be unable to use our words. I wish more women would feel confident enough to not feel the need to allow this to happen. I would love to hear more women challening men in a public arena, to stand up to them to not giggle and laugh at the stupid or worse sexist comments.



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Helen Roberts

Helen Roberts


I’m a wannabe writer, trying to find the courage and time to actually write stuff.