“Can you buy me dinner?” I ask my German friend Andreas. He sighs wearily.
“I’m really skint at the moment,” I add.
“Okay,” he says and I smile at him quite gratefully while he tries to get the waitress’s attention. Then he turns to me and says: “By the way, I think you should know something. You’re a really bad feminist.”
“I know,” I say sulkily. “I am really skint, though.”
Andreas starts lecturing me on feminism and on why it is very anti-feminist to let a man buy you drinks or dinner. I am kind of listening, but mostly I am concentrating on making my face look like I’m really concentrating. Really hard. German men love explaining stuff to people. Girls, especially, I think, but generally speaking, anybody. Their bodies relax once they really get going. And the more you concentrate, the more you can literally see their muscles relaxing. It’s a lovely feeling.
There’s a new word in English for when men explain things to women: “mansplaining”. The German version is “Herrklären”. There are sometimes disputes over what exactly these two words mean: some people think they’re referring to when men explain anything to women, like, even science and kettles and what Prussia was and stuff, some people think they should only be used when men are explaining stuff and getting a lot of things wrong and not listening to what the woman has to say and some people think they’re best reserved for when men start explaining to women stuff about feminism and sexism and gender and that. I like to indiscriminately use them for all three, what’s the point of inventing words if you can’t be permissive with them?
But German men, oy, oy, oy, they really love explaining stuff. Not just feminism. Anything. Protein, spiders, radiators in the GDR, homosexuality in the Third Reich, chimneys in the Weimar Republic, spoons, dinosaurs, the difference between the CDU and the CSU, lightning, photosynthesis, how to lose weight effectively and safely without lowering your metabolism. Two times it’s happened to me that a German boy has actually – in a bar or disco – got out a bit of paper and drawn me a diagram to illustrate the thing he’s explaining. But the bad thing is – here comes the Bad Feminist bit, watch out – I love listening to them. Mostly I love it because you can really learn some interesting things about radiators and kettles and chimneys – but also I like feeling their hard, tight, German muscles start to relax.
So, I think we should introduce a new word, is all I’m saying. “Germansplaining”. They love it so much. They need it. It’s like therapy for them, explaining stuff.
“So,” says Andreas sternly. “That is why you are a bad feminist.”
“Ach,” I say. “So long as there’s still millions of women being murdered every day by their husbands and boyfriends, I’m not gonna complain about you buying me dinner.”
“You haven’t been listening to a thing I’ve said, have you, Jacinta?” Andreas thunders. “You have an outdated conception of male and female roles.”
“Women still earn a lot less than men,” I say. “I earn a lot less than you. And I have to look after my boy, all my money goes on him. He’s only got me. So, you know, I think really, when men buy women dinner, it’s just a mini-redistribution of wealth.”
“This is the most anti-feminist thing about you,” says Andreas, narrowing his eyes at me.
I look at him and smile. I think of all the anti-feminist things about me. God. I don’t really take my writing seriously. I often forget to send bills off for things I’ve written. I keep on falling in love with psychopaths. I totally believe in all that good mother/bad mother bullshit. I’d rather people thought I was pretty than clever. I watch too much porn, read too many women’s magazines, love Victoria Beckham and Jennifer Aniston TOO much. I wish I was a good cook, but not in a happy, feminist vegan kind of way, but in a slutty domestic goddess Nigella kind of way. I wish I was Nigella Lawson. I cried and cried when I saw that picture of Nigella Lawson being almost strangled by that cunt Saatchi, coz part of me thinks if you’re good enough at cooking a man will never hit you. I use the word “cunt”. I’ve signed the End the Page Three petition but sometimes I masturbate over Samantha Fox and Linda Lusardi from the 1980s. I’m still scared of my ex-husband. If my feet were thinner I’d wear high-heels to work. If I had more money I’d have Botox and silicon tits. I only don’t wear make-up because I am too lazy to wake up earlier than I have to. The list is relentlessly, depressingly endless.
“That’s not the most anti-feminist thing about me,” I say, and look for the second cheapest thing in the menu.
I know, übrigens, what the most anti-feminist thing about me is.
The most anti-feminist thing about me is HOW MUCH I enjoy these Germansplaining conversations. But you know what I think the problem is? I just watched too much Doctor Who growing up.