Ruby Smith – “If you can change something, change it, if you can’t, just roll with it”

How do you self-define?

A girl, but people can call me whatever the hell they want.

What does feminism mean to you?

It’s just equality. It’s not about hating men or anything, it’s about everyone being on the same level and being able to do the same things and have the same stuff.

What do the words “woman” and “man” mean to you?

They’re just descriptive of a man and a woman, but I mean it depends on how they use it. When people say things like “oh, this is what a man does and this is what a woman does”, then it can be negative.

When did you become aware of your gender?

Pretty early on. I didn’t like to wear dresses when I was younger but my mum was like, “well you’re a girl, so you need to have at least one”. So yeah, I hated that.

Do you ever feel unsafe due to your gender?

Yeah, I took a break between doing my masters and finishing my undergrad and I wanted to go travelling, and everyone’s like, “well you can’t go travelling on your own because you’re a woman”.   And I really did feel like I couldn’t. Or even just walking home at night, you have to think things through that others don’t; that men don’t.

Do you feel treated differently by men and women?

Sometimes. I’m not a very feminine woman, so not always, but yeah, I think men tend to look at me a bit differently. Not all men, but some men feel they have to do stuff, like if I’m going home on a night out, a guy will be like “shall I just walk you to the bus stop?” in a protective way.

What do you think are positive ways that the world views women?

I don’t know if it’s really positive or not because I don’t feel it really applies to me, but I think in general, people see women as more sensitive and down to earth and sort of calm. I mean ignoring all that hysteria bullshit in the Victoria era, but people look at women like a calming influence, as the sensible one. You know they always say that if women ruled the world things would be really different in a better way. Which might not necessarily be true, but would be nice to see at least.

Did you encounter any obstacles on your path to womanhood?

As I said, I’m not the most feminine woman, and people seem to struggle with that. Like they say, “you don’t put effort in with make-up”, and things like that. But I don’t know, I’m very apathetic to what people say or want me to do so I tend to just ignore it. I’m twenty-five now, so I couldn’t give a fuck what people want to say. I’m done with that.

What do you think about casual sex?

I’m all for it. People can do whatever the hell they want to do, as long as everyone’s enjoying themselves, then go for it.

Are you pro-life or pro-choice, and why?

I’m pro-choice. This may sound a bit callous, but in my opinion, it’s not another human until it’s come out into the world. The woman is the important person in that equation, so it should be up to the woman, and down to her safety. So if they don’t want the baby, then they shouldn’t have to have it. And guys can get as uppity as they want, and of course you should inform the father, but ultimately it’s not their decision to make.

What are your feelings on contraception?

I think it should all be free, just because there are a lot of unplanned and unwanted pregnancies out there that cost the NHS a lot of money. I don’t get the stigma towards it, even on religious grounds, it’s like, so you want to over populate the earth with babies that people don’t want?  To be honest, I think there should be more for men to take. Even with condoms sometimes it’s expected that women should carry them around. Just because they’re not the ones who could get knocked up, they should still put some effort in.

Photo Credit: Aysha Panter

What are your thoughts on marriage and monogamy?

I personally don’t believe in marriage. I just don’t understand it. I get why it’s important to some people, they might have been raised with it, but to me it doesn’t really make a difference. I think if anything it can actually harm good relationships, like it adds an extra layer of complication to things. As for monogamy, if that’s for you then that’s it. I don’t see why people should judge you for it if that’s not what you’re about.

What are your thoughts on motherhood?

I’m sure there are many people out there who are great mothers and who want to be mothers, but I myself am not one of them. I have friends who really want children, and would be happy to have a baby now. And that’s good for them, but every time I say it to someone, they say, “oh you’ll change your mind” No. I’ve never wanted one, and I don’t get it. Whenever there’s a baby in the room I’m uncomfortable. It’s small and squishy and sticky probably, they’re always sticky. Please don’t bring it near me. The natural motherly instinct is not there. I’ll happily have a whole menagerie of dogs. I want to be a dog mother, that’s the closest I’ll get to being a mother.

Were you always aware of what your body could do sexually and mechanically, and do you think your sex education was sufficient?

Not always, as you get older you start to understand things. Our sex education was alright. It was just basic I think from year six until year eight, they don’t really give you any more than that. At least not in my school. Technically it was a Church of England school, as a lot of schools are, but they were pretty relaxed about it really. There was the mechanics of it, and the science behind it, but there was nothing on things like consent or attitude. It was like, this is how sex works, this is how you have a child, this is what a condom is. That was pretty much it.

Do you feel comfortable communicating your sexual needs to a partner?

Uh, I’d say so. Yeah, I’m pretty blasé about these things, if I don’t wanna do something, I’m gonna say.

Has your sexuality ever been used against you?

Not so much used against me as disregarded. I had three years out when I was working, and I’m bisexual, but I tend to prefer women. A lot of people say, oh well, you’re just a lesbian then. Well, no. I think it’s just hard for people to grasp. The idea of the friend-zone has definitely been used against me before. It irritates me so much. It feels like they have the right to a girl’s attention. And when men in particular get annoyed when you don’t like them back.

Is there anyone you would undermine your principles for?

My dad or nan. My nan, just because she’s old. I remember when we were watching TV one time, and she was saying how she really loved queers in her day. And she said, “but nowadays they’re not the same, these gays.” They definitely are the same. And she doesn’t like lesbians, and bisexuals just don’t exist.

In which situations do you feel safe to speak your mind or stand up for yourself?

Not when I was younger, but now I’m older I’m pretty much happy to say what I want, and I mean I’m not great of talking in front of groups of people still, but I’m not scared to talk people around to my way of thinking if need be.

How do you feel about products marketed to women?

Have you seen those pens for ladies? Oh, we can write now. All these years I’ve been staring at a blank page, if only I had the right pen. It’s just ridiculous, isn’t it? They’re always more expensive. Like there are times I just walk into the men’s section and say “I’ll buy that because it’s cheaper”. And I think it can make some men feel bad if they want to buy something that’s geared towards women. My issue is trying to buy sports gear, and it’s always pink. I don’t wear pink!

How do you feel about feminine hygiene products portrayal in the media?

I think it’s made to look very glamorous, which confuses me, because it’s the least glamorous time of your life when you’re lying there in a ball of pain wearing the comfiest clothes you can find. There was that one advert about sanitary pads which was like “throw away your period pants”. No. I will never throw away my comfy underwear. Oh, and they’re too expensive.

What are your biggest fears?

Um, sort of being stuck doing something I don’t care about. Like I was doing an office job for three years, which was hell because I hated every moment of it. So yeah, not moving forward, not seeing things. I’d like to be able to write.

What are your greatest accomplishments?

Um, just managing to get through university the first time. And I went to New Zealand with Meg, my friend. I don’t feel like I’ve made a big accomplishment yet though, but I’ve gotten this far and I’m still sane.

What image do you think you project on a day to day basis?

I’m not sure, because I’ve been told by a few people that I’m quite intimidating. I don’t really know how to take that. Is that a compliment?

What image would you like to project in an ideal world, absolving social expectations?

I’d just like to appear assured, calm and like I know what I’m doing. Whereas no one really knows what they’re doing, but it’d be nice to appear like I do.

What are your most positive relationships with other women?

Well, my mate Poppy, we have a really good relationship. We sort of went through a rough patch when we were younger, but now we’re friends again and everything. We are always happy to be around each other. Like we just went to the star trek convention and had a well good time. We just enjoy things together, and it doesn’t matter if we don’t agree on them, we just support each other in enjoying them. Like she loves make-up, and I don’t, so she painted my face because she enjoys doing it and I don’t mind. There’s no judgement in anything we want to do. And then, me and Meg like to adventure together. And with my younger sisters, they’re getting bolder now and we’re more open with each other. I think that’s good for all of us.

What do you deeply love about yourself?

I’ve been told I’m quite zen-like, so there’s that. People get stressed and I just let things go. I’m just chilled out and don’t see any point in getting overwhelmed. You know, if you can change something, change it, if you can’t, just roll with it.

Photo Credit: Aysha Panter

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