Ten things every woman should know by the time she’s 36

Today is my bday and, as I am very wise beyond my years and whatnot (also v generous), I am offering you a gift. There are endless lists telling women of various ages what they should know by the time they are __ years old, yet on all of the interwebs I could not find a single list specifically for the 36 year old gal! (The invisible years have already begun, I see…) So anyway, I made one. You can thank me for fixing your life whenever.

1) Most people and things are bad and dumb

I am a truth-teller, if nothing else. By 36, almost everyone has disappointed you. People turn out to be stupid assholes and it makes you feel sad and mad and makes your eyes roll out of your head onto the floor. Being a woman of 36 is liberating because you already know that most people are disappointing stupids who say stupid things and lol at blow job jokes and think racism is ok because they don’t really mean it and think they are interesting, v v political people because once they posted a status update about bullying on Facebook and think personalities are made out of tattoos.

2) You don’t have to be nice and you should not be nice

Fuck off. (Yes, you!) I am tired of being nice to dipshits. Women are told to be nice their entire lives and all that means, really, is “suck it up.” For women, “being nice” has less to do with being a compassionate and good human being than it does accepting sexual harassment or pretending misogyny is funny or not saying your opinions out loud. Being “nice” is far less valuable than having good ethics and fighting for justice. The “problem” with having good ethics and fighting for justice is that you can’t really be “nice” while doing it. Because so long as you’re pushing back against the status quo, you are going to make a whole lot of people feel uncomfortable or angry which means they probably won’t like you. People who like the status quo “like” people who play along. If you’re worried about being liked, you can forget about doing what’s right. As long as you have opinions and those opinions aren’t “Boys will be boys!” or “You go gurl!” people aren’t going to like you. I mean, sure, be kind to your friends and to people who are actually respectful, good people who actually don’t perpetuate systems of oppression, but other than that, don’t fucking worry about it. People think “compassion,” “respect,” and “nice” are the same things and they are not.

3) Love, marriage, and heterosexual couplings will not complete you or make you happy

First of all, nobody can “make you happy.” Also, “happiness” is a stupid idea that sets people up for failure (i.e. unhappiness). Feel free to seek fulfillment, contentment, or moments of joy, but no person is simply “happy” all the time. And if they tell you they are they are either lying or are completely disengaged from reality. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t feel mad or sad or depressed all the time or even most of the time. I’m generally fairly ok with my life. But seeking permanent happiness is silly. Particularly in a world that forces people to spend 80 per cent of their lives at jobs they hate, making money for someone else, constantly trying to appease the beauty standard gods, and doing the dishes every single goddamned day.

But back to my point. You think being part of a heterosexual couple will make you happy just like society and all Hollywood movies tell you?? Naw. First of all, most men are men. I know. I’ll give you a moment to fully process that… … … They are men who have been socialized as men in a world that teaches them male entitlement. This is why, as much as a man might be good and kind and loving, he’s still going to exhibit certain behaviours that will remind you that, oh right, I’m a woman living with a person who has spent their whole life in a position of power over me and my sisters and he will never fully understand what that’s like. 

I’m not saying that having positive, loving relationships with men is impossible. But it’s very hard. Please don’t ever think there is something wrong with you because it’s so hard. I continue to make the mistake of saying “What is wrong with me? Am I incapable of maintaining an intimate relationship with a man?” When really, it’s amazing any woman can… Unless she buys that “Men are from Mars” bullshit hook, line, and sinker.

Patriarchy makes heterosexual love next to impossible. Do your best to live the life you want regardless of whether or not there is a man in it and remember that having a man in it won’t necessarily make your life any better… Often, in fact, it makes it worse.

4) Eat your vegetables

I know what you’re going to say: “But, Meghan, vegetables aren’t pizza!” And I hear that, big time. I didn’t eat vegetables for years after I moved out on my own. My parents tortured me with healthy food as a child — Brown rice! Carrots! Multigrain bread! No fast food or sugar cereal ever! Real cheese! The kind of peanut butter that comes with two inches of oil on top that you have to stir in instead of the creamy kind that tastes like dessert! My dad made his own yogurt!

This was my real life for 18 years and once free I was determined to live on Pizza Pops and Kraft Dinner till I died, goddammit. I did that for a really long time until I stopped trying to be 14 year old boy and learned how to cook food and also learned that vegetables made my brain and body feel better. It only took me, like, 30 years to figure out that cooking vegetarian stuff is fun and that eating healthy food can be totally great. I’d offer to share my expansive knowledge of Cooking Things That Include Vegetables, but you probably already know how because you probably aren’t a stubborn child who thinks processed cheese = freedom.

5) Don’t let the salesperson at the shoe store tell you that the shoes you are trying on that feel a little too tight will “stretch”

They won’t stretch they will just hurt your feet and then if you keep trying to wear them to “stretch them out” they will create painful bumps on your toes and force your toenails into weird shapes. Buy comfortable shoes that fit properly and it will make your life good. Uncomfortable shoes are a huge waste of life (and seem to be an ailment only women suffer from). (Don’t let them talk you into too-big shoes, either. “Just wear an insole” is not a solution to too-big shoes. They’ll just always be too big and it will be annoying. Trust your gut, not the person trying to take your money, on this one.)

6) Have female friends and value those friendships

As women, we need other women to talk to. We need to talk to people we can relate to. I have male friends who are super awesome and who I love, but they aren’t the people I want to talk to if I’m heartbroken or dealing with relationship shit. (Despite my cynicism at relationships with men, I’m often in one — hypocrite, I knowwww.) Men also don’t understand what it’s like to be a woman and they never will. (Plus they give terrible relationship advice.) I don’t know what I’d do if I didn’t have other women to talk about the challenges of living female — and living female in man-town. I think I’d go crazy.

7) Being popular is for high school kids and characters in movies

Similar to my point about being “nice,” by 36 I really, truly hope you’ve realized that “popularity” is incredibly silly. Who gives a fuck what a bunch of bar stars or Twitter try hards think about you? As mentioned earlier, most likely they are boring dum-dums who’ve done little more than a bunch of blow, mastered the art of the selfie (read: found their good side and a photoshop app), posed in sexy outfits with guns or on motorcycles, got some deep thoughts tattoos, and tried to trick us all into thinking they were interesting by growing a beard. In order to be popular you have to be fake and do you want to spend the rest of your life being fake? Barf, no! Those people are insecure as fuck and will be still searching for meaning in vintage t-shirts and low-carb diets decades from now. It’s depressing.

8) You do not have to like sex or porn or porny sex or strip shows or burlesque

Fuck the porn culture cult. Pretending to be rilly into porn and sexy (read: sexualized) ladies will make you popular. This is because men like to believe their misogyny is cool and great and because siding with men will bring you a certain level of social comfort as a result of that whole “patriarchy” thing. But! Now you are 36 and you don’t have to pretend that things that degrade you and other women super turn you on. You have every reason to feel any level of uncomfortable to repulsed by the porn culture we live in. There is nothing wrong with you and there is everything wrong with people who tell you you’re not “fun” or are a “prude” or a “buzzkill” because you think women are full human beings and not props or accessories. It’s ok — perfectly normal, in fact — not to enjoy your own oppression. Try to connect with other women who share your feelings and views lest you feel totally isolated. We’re out there.

9) Avocado toast

Psych!

10) You should get a dog

I don’t think I really need to explain this one, but in case it’s unclear why dogs are the things that make life good and worth living, here is a picture of my dog:

She is so cute I could just die.
She is so cute I could just die.

To another year of sarcastic ranting and man hating! Hugs and solidarity forever, sisters!

Meghan Murphy
Meghan Murphy

Founder & Editor

Meghan Murphy is a freelance writer and journalist. She has been podcasting and writing about feminism since 2010 and has published work in numerous national and international publications, including New Statesman, Vice, Al Jazeera, The Globe and Mail, I-D, Truthdig, and more. Meghan completed a Masters degree in the department of Gender, Sexuality and Women’s Studies at Simon Fraser University in 2012 and lives in Vancouver, B.C. with her dog.

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