Navigating the Manic Pixie Dream Minefield

Hello fellas.

Look at your woman. Now look at this article, now back to your woman, now back to this article. Sadly, this article isn’t a woman, but it was written by one, and I’d to talk to you men, and ladies, about that most crafty of stock women, the infamous Manic Pixie Dream Girl.

I am speaking as one of the cynical converted. I had my phase in my mid-teens. Oh, most women do these days. It starts small, with an unrealistic obsession with The Smiths and anime, and ends with being so hyper and peppy and quirky and kitsch that, apparently, everyone in the universe can’t help but fall in love with your girlish charm.

NOPE NOPE NOPE

NOPE NOPE NOPE

For those not in the know, TV Tropes does a wonderful job of mythbusting this type of woman wide open, and but in a nutshell, I posit that you can define your average MPDG as thus:

“A cutesy, hyperactive and shallow woman, that doesn’t have any defining personality types apart from being “bubbly” or “quirky”, often infantile to the point of ridiculousness, who displays a general inability to handle adult situations or behave in non-childish manner.” – B. Smith, 2014.

It’s a sickening trope so overused in modern cinema, literature and TV that, chances are, she’s up there with the 19th century Fallen Woman or the film noir Femme Fatale – the Manic Pixie is the archetypal 2D woman of the 21st century. No longer are women simply muses, they’ve got to be “quirky” muses.  Think the myth of Pygmalion, except the statue has an unhealthy obsession with New Wave English bands, Spongebob Squarepants and dip dying her hair a crraaaaazzzyyy colour!

The MPDG – not only is she attractive, but she’s so quirky and cute and desirable! She loves whacky adventures! She probably can’t define irony! She LOVES exclamation marks! What’s more, her existence will stop you from your faux-depressive funk and encourage you to love life again! The only catch is that she’s a detrimental fantasy that will unequivocally ruin the wellbeing of the woman in question, the relationship you’re having with her, and generally your understanding as to how real, functional adult people work.

 

ALSO NOPE NOPE NOPE

ALSO NOPE NOPE NOPE

I’d argue that there are two branches to the stock MPDG character:

1)    Women who genuinely aspire to be manic pixie dream girls, or, in a twist of fate,

2)   Men who project the manic pixie dream girl image onto desirable women;

There’s a reason why most MPDGs are cooked up by male scriptwriters looking for a new ideal of woman: the fantasy that a single person holds the key to all personal and romantic salvation.  Your MPDG isn’t merely your love interest, she is the reason for your creative flair, your rediscovered happiness, your sense of purpose etc etc. Women might have their men in shining armour; but men have their manic pixie dream fairies, always giggling, always twirling, twirling.

But it’s that second type of MPDG – the projected MPDG – which might be the worst kind. Ladies and gentleman of the jury, I present you with the archetypal case of the “projected” MPDG – Summer Finn from 500 Days of Summer.

Oh hai, Zooey DeschaDreambait

Oh hai, Zooey DeschaDreambait

 

For those who haven’t seen the classic romcom, go do so. Because I think it might be the most effective debunking of projected MPDGs that has so far been displayed on screen. Throughout Tom’s narrative, we’re led to believe that Summer isn’t really a person. She is a perfect MPDG fantasy, quirky and cute and nothing else.

Only the twist is – and it took me multiple views of the film to realise this – that Summer is a real person. She makes stupid choices like the rest of us. I wouldn’t be surprised if she has a solid education, strong views on ethics and morality and a subscription to TIME magazine. The problem is that both Tom, and the scriptwriters, never let us see that. We only see Summer as Tom wants to see her – all sepia tinted shots, super close ups, and lots and lots of innocent blue ribbon *cough* *SYMBOLISM* *cough*.

It's EVERYWHERE... Oh god, not the blue dress, NOT THE BLUE DRESS! BLLAAAAAAHHHHH! IT'S IN MY EYES, MY EYES, MY EEEEYYYEESSS!

It’s EVERYWHERE… Oh god, not the blue dress, NOT THE BLUE DRESS! BLLAAAAAAHHHHH! IT’S IN MY EYES, MY EYES, MY EEEEYYYEESSS!

Perhaps she has a really cool hobby or interesting anecdotes about her childhood. Perhaps she studied in a really prestigious college, perhaps she has radical political opinions, and perhaps her favourite style of cooking is something other than “baking”. We’ll never know. All Tom knows is he loves her “smile”. We only ever see the film through Tom’s perspective.  “Summer”, Tom’s ideal of true love, is a fantasy without any real voice in the movie. But Summer, the reality, is only ever depicted off screen. Her real desires and dreams don’t correlate with Tom’s fantasy childlike woman, so we are never allows see them.

Ultimately, the MPDG is defined by arbitrary choices, like a hello kitty backpack, a necklace, a hipster ironic kindle cover. Her view of the world isn’t a genuine wonder or excitement but a kind of hyperactive squeal, pointing out Smiths Vinyls and American chocolate and with equal measure ditz and quirk. What does she think about, besides her comic books and hair dye? Not much, apparently. You’ve got to ask yourselves – are these kind of relationships, these inevitably artificial relationships based on a legacy of male wish fulfillment, what you want for yourselves?

Now ladies and fellas, look at yourselves. Now look at this article, now back to yourselves, now back to this article. Are you, or are you dating, a MPDG? Are you and your relationships made of about as much empty sugar, hollow air and artificial pink flavourings as so much candy floss? If so, it might be time to give 500 Days of Summer a rewatch. I’m on a horse.

For more more detailed analysis of Zooey Deschanel, damaging stock characters or more successful parodies of the Old Spice Guy, you should follow VFM on Twitter or Facebook. Alternatively, you could try jumping on a trampoline and screaming very loudly while trying to inspire a man having an artistic crisis, but it’s not the recommended method of getting in touch. 

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#TwitterFeminism – The Feminist Twitter Accounts You Should Be Following

I love twitter.  I love it and cherish it like the son or daughter I will probably never have. I am glued to my phone, frequently commenting on essays, books, David Cameron’s shiny shiny forehead.

However, if there’s one great use for twitter, it’s spreading the feminist joy. Twitter, if used with great responsibility, is a handy political tool – and that doesn’t mean taking selfies of yourself with fancy burgers or tweeting “Ed Balls”. With hashtags like #RapeCultureIsWhen, #FeminismIsForWhiteWomen, #MyFeminismLooksLike,  twitter is basically awesome for feminists who want to hear from all sides of the world and all sides of the argument.

Sometimes the internet can be a minefield of "What-the-actual-hell", but feminism on twitter is alive and well!

Sometimes the internet can be a minefield of “What-the-actual-hell”, but feminism on twitter is alive and well!

For those uninitiated into the world of Twitter feminism, here’s my top list of feminists who you should follow on twitter. Feel free to comment below with your own suggestions!

A HANDY GUIDE TO THE TWITTERY ACCOUNTS THAT YOU SHOULD FOLLOW:

@VagendaMagazine, @theFwordUK – the general go-to accounts for light feminist articles in the UK (besides VFM, of course). The Vagenda in particular has a great (and responsive!) twitter account.

@EverydaySexism and @NoMorePage3 – leading campaign sites for contemporary feminist issues. Don’t forget to check out their prospective websites too!

@feminsthulk – because smashing the patriarchy is always better in capital letters.

@WhiteFeminist, @feministkanye, @feministswift – parody accounts which will make you laugh as well as think. All are both sadly truthful and hilarious.

@CaitlinMoran@lenadunham, @wmarybeard – awesome ladies who are famed for light, funny feminism. And Mary Beard says such intelligent stuff that blows your mind, that I’d follow her regardless of political orientation.

@femfreq – if you’re into gaming and feminism, this is an awesome place to start.

@VictorianPrude, @monaeltahawy – awesome activists in America. Sarah Slamen is currently fighting against the changes to abortion rights in Texas. Mona is particularly into Muslim and Arab feminism as well as Isralei/Palestine conflict.

@VFMArticles – just in case you forgot to add us 🙂

Don’t forget to also follow VFM on Facebook if Twitter isn’t your cup of social networking tea. Incidentally if you want to follow me and suggest I add to the list, my twitter handle is @BethSaysThings

A Birthday Blog: 5 Things for Feminists To Actually Do In Their Twenties*

*If they want to, I mean. This is the end of the Third Wave/start of the Fourth Wave and all. Who the hell am I to tell you what to do?

So, today, the 20th March in the year 2014, is my birthday. I am twenty years old. Woo.  

OHEMGEESITSMABIRFDAY

I thought I’d take some time out of my day to reflect on a little internet nugget that has been floating about on my Facebook feed for a while now. No, not that somewhat well intentioned yet misguided “No make up selfie” one, there are enough blog posts criticising that right now. I mean the now infamous “X list of things to do when/before you are Age Y” article.

In particular, now that I am an official member of the twenties club, I’m focusing on a particular article on Thought Catalog that’s done the rounds of late, “Five Things women need to do in their twenties or else the suffragists died for nothing” which is a sort of lovechild subgroup of the horrific “things to do in your twenties” brand of buzzfeed/studentbeans articles. Because if there’s two things that generation Y loves on the t’internet, it’s a) pointless lists and b) THINGS WHICH MAKE YOU FUCKING PARANOID ABOUT WASTING YOUR PRIME ADULT YEARS.

100% Accurate Venn Diagram Lovingly Crafted By Yours Truly

100% Accurate Venn Diagram Lovingly Crafted By Yours Truly

Anyhow, days after people flagged out the obscenity of this article, it turns out it was written by a guy for a joke.  If that information doesn’t point out how shitty and poorly researched the world of ThoughtCatalog is, I give up with you people.

Anywho, in light of my new age group and the busting of the article, here’s I think feminist women should actually do in their twenties. If you want.

1) Vote, and Be All Political and Stuff

Hey! Voting is fun. Women threw themselves under horses and starved themselves so you could have the right to do this, so why not actually fucking do it rather than complaining. Turns out the suffragists were not so much about travelling and getting a tan so much as using your political autonomy to have a say in how your local and national councils represent you both nationally and internationally. Whodathunkit.

She knows where it's at.

She knows where it’s at.

And if you hate politics, why not do something about it? Don’t “forget” to vote or be too apathetic to bother. Campaign for a better system. Make signs and stand in public places and shout for a bit. Petition councils and governments. Get mad. Do stuff. Don’t sit there on your arse.

2) Know Stuff About The World Around You

That means actually knowing stuff that’s happening which can have an impact on a global scale, e.g. that situation in Ukraine’s that’s a been a bit whacked up recently. Do you know what’s going on like a well-informed and person, or are you too busy to care?

Likewise, there are issues that are not traditionally associated with western Europe but still occur here and worldwide such as FGM, forced marriages, lack of access to education, lack of access to knowledge sources, lack of political representation etc etc etc. Go read a few books, watch the news, know stuff. Then think and act on’t.

3) Actually Like Your Body For Once

If you treat your body gently and with respect then you can look however the hell you want to. Fat? IDGAF. Skinny? Likewise. It’s high time for the fat tummy and chubby arms appreciation society. Knowing yourself and respecting yourself is an important step on the way to adulthood. Go do that.

When I Google "Happy Women" a Lot of Stock Images of This Kind Show Up. Don't Be  a Moron and Jump About in Cornfields Like a Pleb (Unless You Want To). Just Be Happy In Your Own Skin.

When I Google “Happy Women” a Lot of Stock Images of This Kind Show Up. Don’t Be a Moron and Jump About in Cornfields Like a Pleb (Unless You Want To). Just Be Happy In Your Own Skin.

4) Know That Intersectionality Exists, Work Towards Understanding It

Being an intersectional feminist does not mean “I am privileging race over gender”. As a white woman I occupy a certain area of inherited privilege. If I understand when I fuck up and use that privilege unknowingly, apologise, learn from it, and do my best to not do it again and help understand and help improve experience of women who occupy a more discriminated sphere than myself (trans women, black women, Asian women, disabled women), then I’ll have at least done something. Privilege is a real shitty thing in this society which we need to change. One of the first things you can do is understand that notion of “privilege”, how you are “privileged”, and how that relates in real time in society.

5) Understand that You Have Rights and Responsibilities, and That Action Must Be Taken When Necessary to Protect Them.

If you don’t pay the slightest attention to anything else in this article, then read this point.

As human beings, we all have rights and responsibilities. I have the right to be safe, healthy, well represented with an autonomous voice – and the responsibility to use them to the best of my ability, and not infringe the rights of others or be an arse to anyone else. If my rights or responsibilities are threatened, or if the rights and responsibilities of any other group I know are being threatened, it’s my obligation to give a crap. Again, whether that’s signing a petition or standing on a picket line, THE TRICK IS TO AT LEAST DO SOMETHING rather than writing a Facebook post about it.

Here’s to doing something decent with the next ten years of my life.

You could always follow VFM on Twitter or Facebook if you don’t like lists OR posts about Things To Do In Your Twenties. Because most articles on here aren’t that. Promise.

A Women’s Best Friend Part One: Standing up for friends

Dogs-dogs-16697078-500-375

In the media dogs have not had a great time: with reports of dog attacks, the branding of certain dogs as dangerous breeds and the demonization of their species, over the past few decades. Once described as man’s best friend these creatures have found themselves slowly becoming ostracized from society by humans, with many being abandoned, put down and left to become aggressive. So who will come to these canines’ rescue? How about women?

Growing up I made a lot of assumptions of how humans view dogs, believing that the rest of humanity viewed them in the same way I did. Not once in my childhood did I see dogs as aggressive, only as protective; never as dangerous, only as powerful; never as monsters, only as friends (and some of them as jack asses). It also never in a million years crossed my mind that my gender would be a problem when it came to owning a dog. Growing up with and around powerful breeds, I never thought being a girl would disqualify me from owning one of these breeds. However as an adult not only have I been warned against adopting powerful breeds, due to the fact that as a woman, I would be too weak to control one. I have also been told quite frankly that as a woman, I should never own a dog, as woman can never really train any dog without a man.

In these collections of articles, I want to put my argument forward as to why women (without male supervision) not only should adopt dogs, but also why women should consider adopting some of the more powerful breeds. I also want to  set the record straight about the myths about breeds, why some dogs become aggressive,  and how it can easily be prevented. Dogs can bring so much to a human’s life, why can’t they be our best friend too?

Women and Weight Part 2: Why do we do this to ourselves?

It’s funny what women will do if it’s fashionable–and damn we have done some pretty weird stuff in the pursuit of beauty. Whether it’s plucking off all our eyelashes and eyebrows in the 18th century or wearing rib-braking corsets in the 19th century will do it for beauty. Each century brings about a new ideal of beauty and new extremes of how to get there. The latest fixation of the past 30 years has been weight i.e the need to be thin. Weight is consistently in the news whether it is about skinny celebrities or the obesity crisis; our society is obsessed.

This obsession has caused major repercussions within our society in the form of eating disorders, mental illness and even death among the western world, but there is a light at the end of the tunnel. Every trend in fashion has been exactly that – a trend. So sit back and be amazed at the dumb things we as a race have done to ourselves in the name of beauty.

HEAD BINDING

Head binding is found amongst a huge variety of ancient civilisation, but it is most well known with the connection with the Maya’s. Head binding or ‘Artificial cranial deformation’ was a trend of both genders. It was done by distorting the normal growth of a child’s skull by applying force, normally around month after birth till the child was six months old. A child’s head would be placed in-between two pieces of wood which would be bound with a cloth in order to get the desired shape. The reason for these shaping was that they wanted their children to look like their gods heads which they thought was beautiful.

ParacasSkullsIcaMuseum

FEET BINDING

Foot binding also known as “Lotus feet”, is a custom from China, which is a painful process of applying tight bindings to the feet of young girls to prevent further growth. Small feet where seen as a feminine trait and seen as very beautiful in China. To the point it was thought hard for a women to find a husband if she had large feet.

Foot binding became even more popular as a means of displaying status (as women from wealthy families who did not need them to work, could afford to have their feet bound) it was soon adopted as a symbol of beauty across Chinese culture.

The foot binding process was undergone purely by young girl aged between 4-7 years old. It began by soaking the young child’s feet in warm water or animal blood with added herbs. After soaking the feet, the girl’s toe nails were to be clipped short and given a foot massage (sound’s okay so far). Next, every toe would be broken except for the big toe. Due the fact the big toe contributes a lot to balance. Then the foot was wrapped with cloth. Every day, or every couple of days, the foot would be unwrapped and wrapped again; the girl was put into smaller shoes until their foot was about 4 inches long.

Despite people trying to ban foot biding all the way back in 1664, it was not until the early 20th century that foot binding began to finally die out, due to changing social conditions and as a result of anti-foot binding campaigns. Foot-binding resulted in lifelong disabilities for most of those subjected to it, and some elderly Chinese women still survive today, with disabilities related to their bound feet.

feet photo

HAIR REMOVAL

Most women today remove some form of hair whether it’s shaving their legs or plucking their mono-brow into shape. But would you believe it that women once plucked out all of their eyebrows!!! Okay, okay maybe after watching Educating Yorkshire that is very easy to believe.

However during the Middle Ages, even until the 18th century, eyelashes were not in style. Yes eyelashes! Women during this time women removed eyelashes and eyebrows in order to give more importance to the forehead, (so they didn’t even draw them back on) which was seen as one of the most beautiful features of a women’s face.

Women were not supposed to exhibit any of their hair in public, not their eyelashes, eyebrows or hair on their heads. This was due to the fact that the Catholic Church condemned women who dared show hair as an offense to God and the church, and as a sin.

tumblr_m24r2yBCX81rrze64o1_500

FACE TATTOOING

In Burma’s hilly Chin province, women have had full-facial tattoos for generations. It is a cultural tradition, a rite of passage and for many a sign of beauty, strength and pride.

The practice was believed to have begun a long time ago, when the kings in Burma found out about the beauty of Chin women and teenagers. These kings began kidnapping the village’s women, they would come into the village and basically pick out the women they wanted before then take them away. In response to that, the village elders (who were women) started tattooing the girls as a measure against the king’s actions. It was a form of rebellion, a way to steal their young daughter’s beauty: a sacrifices they felt necessary in order to protect them from abduction and much worse.

Although it was once something to make them ugly, over time these women became to view themselves as beautiful. It soon became came a symbol of strength and of feminine beauty. With different tribes having different patterns, women with tattooed faces became a symbol of pride for the Chin. Promoting a positive view of Chin women among the tribes as being not only beautiful but also tough.

This practice has started to die out due to the fact that it is no longer needed and is a painful process that the village elders do not wish young girls to go through. Especially if all it will do now days is alienate their daughters from the outside world.

imagesCAI2BXQA

CORSET

During the Victorian period, the ideal figure for a woman to have an hourglass figure. It soon became mandatory for all British women to wear corsets to get the figure. With women who did not wear these corsets were branded loose women, with loose morals. However, there was every reason not to wear corsets, as they were death traps. Corsets where known to break ribs or put so much pressure on the ribs they indented some of the internal organs. They caused women to pass out, have miscarriages and die.

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WHAT WOMEN DO TODAY

I know what you’re thinking. Well that’s all in the past how silly where those women but still to this day women are mutilating their bodies for beauty. You only have to go and look online to see the millions of fad diets or watch TV to see all the women pinned back and tucked into an inch of their life. It all looks so painless, so easy. I mean, a face lift will only set you back a couple of grand nowadays and with all the new painkiller medication you will barely feel the three month headache. What’s a three month headache when you have your face cut off and stabled on again?

So what if all these diets cause malnutrition, really what side effects could these diets cause to the body? Well apart from feeling tired all the time and lacking energy, taking a long time to recover from infections, delayed wound healing, irritability, poor concentration, finding it hard to keep warm, persistent diarrhoea, depression, abnormal blood counts, elevated liver enzymes, seizure, brittle nails, hair that thins, breaks or falls out, absence of menstruation, dry skin, irregular heart rhythms, low blood pressure, dehydration. But at least women are thin.

At the end of it all, women have done a lot of things to their bodies over the years, most of which have been painful and unhealthy. Most of which is not seen as smart or beautiful in today’s standards. All of which have been phases, trends that have died out and were brought about by crisis, pressure or the need to be beautiful.  So will the need to be thin die out? Yes. Will people stop starving themselves and throwing up after every meal? Eventually.

Off With The White Queen’s Head, But Long Live BBC Drama

I have a confession to make. I have recently become addicted to sub-par, historically inaccurate and poorly scripted BBC costume dramas. Between The Returned and The Apprentice I thought I couldn’t find the time to be hopelessly devoted to any more TV shows. Yet evidently I had a ham-shaped whole in my heart, because I have taken to watching The White Queen religiously.

Rebecca Ferguson rocking a really fancy hat in BBC's The White Queen

Rebecca Ferguson rocking a really fancy hat in BBC’s The White Queen

For those sane enough to be ignorant about the show, The White Queen is an adaptation of a trio of novels by historical-fiction writer Philippa Gregory. It charts the decaying years of the medieval era through the feminine eyes of Queen Elizabeth Woodville, Isabel Neville, Anne Neville, Jaquetta Rivers and Margaret Beufort. You’ll notice that, for all the prancing around they do in poofy pants atop sparklingly white ponies, the number of male focal-points in The White Queen are slim to none.

While I admit that, in terms of viewing figures, these costume dramas are aimed at female viewers, The White Queen is the latest in a long line of BBC dramas which feature pretty awesome and pretty well-written ladies. Goshdarn it if the BBC don’t consistently represent us womenfolk well. Even stereotypically “blokey” detective shows these days feature cool, criminal female geniuses such as Alice Morgan in Luther. When it comes to costume dramas, the Beeb tend to cherry-pick from classic literature that features well-developed (if not classically “strong”) heroines such as North and South, Jane Eyre and Emma. They’ve even produced dramas which focus on fictional-historical lesbian characters, as evidenced in the productions of Sarah Waters’ novels Tipping the Velvet and The Night Watch.

It’s always refreshing when a television drama gives my gender-equality riddled brain some peace. Lots of Tudor/late medieval historical fiction seems to centre on the big macho guns – the likes of Henry VIII or Thomas Cromwell (I’m looking at you, Hilary Mantel), or the big imposing female monarchs such as Mary or Elizabeth. The White Queen focuses on the quieter ladies, the ones behind the scenes, albeit those still with a large amount of class and power. Feminism sometimes means giving a voice to women from the past who wouldn’t necessarily have been heard in their own times – even if that was because they’d been accused of witchcraft and had their tongues cut out, or because they were biting on wooden spoons while firing out sprogs from the royal vagina.

Screw wands; we have FISHING LINES b*tches.

Screw wands; we have FISHING LINES b*tches.

This perplexing adaptation has been lauded by the Daily Fail as being simultaneously both “one and five” stars. While I abhor Paul Dacre’s Tory Madhouse and won’t link you to the article, I completely understand the reasoning behind its judgement on this. The White Queen is at times laughably rubbish. “Magic” is frequently treated as a real, dangerous power, with Jaquetta Rivers’ enchanted fishing lines – bloody fishing lines of all things – unintentionally reeling in deus ex machina comedy gold. The White Queen also features such quintessentially medieval items as zips, bricks, buttons, radiators, double glazing, drainpipes, concrete and evidently manicures, luxury shower gel and TRESemmé. Clearly more money in this production went into the costumes and the makeup department than the historical research side of things. It even has its own OFFICIAL TUMBLR, for Pete’s sake.

Every gut instinct tells me I should hate The White Queen. It’s tacky, godawful and contrived. But I can’t help it; I love every second of it. It is nothing but hammy, through and through. Yet, it is the finest Wiltshire ham. It is the sort of glorious honey-glazed ham you would expect at a regal Plantagenet feast. Most importantly, it is unashamedly women-focused ham – and that, for now, will do nicely indeed.

 

The White Queen is on BBC One on Sunday nights at 9pm.

Lord Sugar, “Eye Candy” and Pink Sparkly Cupcakes: Or, Whatever Happened to Ruth Badger?

Before this year, the last time I saw the Apprentice was back in 2006. Watching the series 2 final in the living room was almost blasphemous. When it came to reality television, my family were of the firm side of the ‘we are better than they’ mentality, whereby all other shows were inferior to documentaries, BBC costume dramas and cricket. I remember seeing the formidable business tank that was Ruth Badger, and being gobsmacked that the willowy Michelle Dewberry won instead. I was more gobsmacked, however, that every contestant on The Apprentice was a walking, talking arsehole in a suit. It is an inherent part of the programme, as much as The Voice is about being as bland as possible, The X Factor is about being as evil as possible, and Big Fat Gypsy Weddings is about tapping into the nation’s collective apprehension about a) council tax evaders, b) perceived outsiders with customs different to our own and c) pink meringue dresses.

Please come back, Ruth. I'll never make fun of your surname again.

Please come back, Ruth. I’ll never make fun of your surname again.

But perhaps to call the contestants on The Apprentice arseholes is a little unfair. I’m more inclined to call them pantomime arseholes. Having watched the current series religiously in the past few weeks, I feel in a good position to defend myself. Whenever Neil, desperate to replace Henry Cavill in Man of Steel, repeats his catchphrase “It’s time for Neil Clough to save the day”, I can’t help but shout “oh no he won’t” and then expect Lord Sugar to emerge into the boardroom dressed as the Wicked Witch of Capitalism. But then, pantomime arsehole-ry is just part of the package. It’s all I, as the viewer, get to see. Contestants might as well grow villain moustaches and cruella de-vil style haircuts. It would be far more subtle than comparing yourself to Napoleon or Machiavelli.

But is it just me, or has anyone noticed a bit of, well, gender exaggeration going on in this current series? It’s even more insidious than the arsehole stereotyping. Whenever there seems to be a bitchy “animosity” between the girls, a little like schoolchildren who pull each other’s pigtails, it seems to be flared up as a serious and inevitable yet ridiculously patronising problem. Yet on the LADZ team, whenever Neil stirs up drama it’s fine and dandy, or when Zee and Alex call Jason – Who I will from now on refer to in the blogging universe as Jason ‘Sad Potato’ Leech – a “silly shit” when he screws the task up, it’s all okay and it’s never picked up by any of the Sugar crew because LOL Manz will have ManBantz.

This week, however, was the worst instance of ManBantz gone wrong, when Kurt pretty much became as contemptible as Rupert Murdoch and his parade of Page 3 models. There was an audible groan from progressive-thinkers everywhere when Kurt dropped the man-ball good and proper, by encouraging one of the women on his team to be “eye candy” for the customers while the dudes sold a caravan. That’s right, folks. Kurt called Leah referred to as “eye candy”. IN ORDER TO SELL CARAVANS. I’m sorry Kurt, but, hideously antiquated and godawful sexism aside, sexiness will not sell campervans. Even the most gorgeous model in a swimsuit would not turn the head of a seventy year old woman looking for a new pop-up tent. In fact, the sexism was so bad that even Nick Hewer himself felt the need to step in and boldly call it at the board meeting, total feminist badass that he is.

Not that the girls seem to do much better: Luisa is the poster girl for the “I’m pretty but can also do business yeah?” kind of attitude, while saying things like “I hate the corporate world” and mistaking the smell of manure for some kind of perfume. A low point for feminism occurred last week, when CUPCAKES were made into a staple of a corporate away day. Luisa may have saved the task financially, but she replaced chocolate making – a silly task – with cupcake decorating, a cheaper but dafter task. Men and women around the table looked physically wounded by the ineptitude of the pink sparkly cakes in front of them. It’s like I’m being encouraged to pigeon-hole these women into whiny, clueless girls.

ALL HAIL THE PINK SPARKLY CUPCAKE, SAVER OF BUSINESSES, SAVER OF SOULS

ALL HAIL THE PINK SPARKLY CUPCAKE, SAVER OF BUSINESSES, SAVER OF SOULS

Karren Brady herself is definitive proof that women can be cool, calm, intelligent and totally awesome when it comes to business. And don’t we all remember Ruth Badger? We didn’t see no cupcakes from that woman. She was a bit more energetic, a bit more happenin’. If the cameras had tried to edit Ruth to look like a simpering teenager, she’d have probably leapt out of the set and demanded to see the head producer of the BBC. And then proceeded to rip his head off and eat it raw. With wasabi sauce. Because she’s a badass.

Regardless, I can’t help but feel a bit disappointed with the representation of women on this series of The Apprentice. There’s certainly no business going on here. Just bitchiness, gender-stereotyping and cupcakes. GODDAMN PINK SPARKLY CUPCAKES.

And, as usual, Mitchell and Webb sums things up better than I can: