Diet Coke isn’t empowering. 

6th December 2022

My glory days are the late nineties. I left school in 1994 and life really began. My mate got a car; the pub next door to college didn’t care that we were underage; Oasis were topping the charts. and it felt like the sun was always shining.

I wasn’t the only one having fun. Sara Cox, Zoe Ball and Denise Van Outen were regularly splashed across the tabloids, drunk, sweary and inappropriate- these were the nineties ladettes.

Meanwhile, Diet Coke were advertising their product with a semi naked hunk and The Full Monty took the cinemas by storm. This was the time of the gender role reversal. This was when the “girls” said “if the boys can do it we can too!”

 FHM coined the term Ladette in reference to the female equivalent of the bloke who shouts “nice tits!” at every girl he sees. Women were lairy, gropey, drunk and sweary. Strip clubs weren’t just for the men, we could indulge in a bit of objectification too, and we’d decided that if we couldn’t go to a nightclub without getting groped then men couldn’t either. Our mothers had burned their bras and secured us equality, so now we would empower ourselves by doing everything we’d put up with men doing for so long. See how they liked it eh?

We shot ourselves in the foot really. 

Because now we complain about violence against women, we complain about catcalling and our bodies being used to sell products and men point out that we can be gropey too, that women will shout “nice arse” as much as men will shout “nice tits” that we’ll touch without permission and that we will sexually harass men and boys. And any women reading this, how many of us have gone along with watching those Marvel Movies because Thor keeps taking his clothes off? Come on, none of us are innocent in this culture. 

There is a difference though, this is a relatively new phenomenon, and certainly in terms of the whole ladette culture, has fizzled out somewhat as young girls have ditched the beer for botox. It is not yet deeply embedded in the nation’s psyche as something that is “okay.” There is still no way we would ever have a female Prime Minister who talked about patting men on the bottoms and sending them on their way, or who had five children by an unknown amount of men, and I hope we never will. Because Equality shouldn’t mean dragging us all down to the same level but raising us all up to the same level, I want Prime Ministers who are decent and respectful, whatever their gender and I want a world where nobody sexually harasses anyone. 

Yes, women have and still do engage in some of the behaviours we call out in men. I only read today about a pub who is having to switch to plastic glasses because they’ve had a spate of women glassing men (but remember: stories of female violence hit the headlines because they’re shocking, and that’s because it is rare)  Women have wrongly thought that “what’s good for the goose is good for the gander” but it’s not and the fact that some women have reacted to years of male domination like this doesn’t make it okay for it to continue. 

So yes, let’s call out the ladettes, but let’s remember, that should never mean a return to the status quo, where being drunk and lairy, pervy and gropey  was only for the boys. 

 #16days #16daysofactivism #orangetheworld