16) Why A Crash Helmet Is Essential - A necessity in life to combat the pain caused by constantly smashing your head against the glass ceiling. For the most part the glass ceiling is specifically a female issue, symptomatic of an employers fear of promoting a woman to a position of authority only to see her disappear for a year on maternity leave. And this is me being tactful. There are some who would say that men dislike women in authority (Think Margaret Thatcher), that a strong woman emasculates the men around her and by default is the cause of all that is wrong with the workplace. That she'll bring her hormone addled self into the office and pollute the air conditioning until eventually all of the men grow breasts. Some think that women are incapable of working like a man, which in itself is a joke as we all know that woman can multitask whilst men can't breathe and chew gum at the same time (I must say that this actually is false, I once knew a man who could breathe, chew and watch football all at the same time!).
There are some jobs where men are probably superior, jobs requiring physical strength for example. Men are generally more prevalent in the world of IT but whether this is a gender issue or more to do with teenage boys spending every waking minute online surfing porn whilst teenage girls buy shoes, I don't know. Nursing, once the bastion of women is now a gender neutral career. Even the military has recognised that women should be afforded the same opportunities as men. The right man for the job can now be a woman. So in this golden age of equality, why are women still paid less then their male compadres? Women in an office are always the lowest paid unless they miraculously get to management level and even then this will be attributed to her sleeping her way there. Admin is an Oestrogen dominated job and in my experience, these women do twice as much work as their "Superiors" on a third of their pay. The number of crises I've managed to salvage at the 11th hour, the "Oh Shit" moments when your Manager accidentally deletes the report he's been working on for months which is due in an hour, the fact that you seem to be the only person in the building capable of refilling the photocopier, the panic stricken phone calls pleading with you to send flowers to your bosses' wife because he's forgotten their anniversary. All things which should be avoided but never are. All tasks which are considered trivial and ultimately unskilled which means they can pay you less. All undertaken calmly and professionally which is probably why no-one notices just how much is being done.
It really is a man's world I'm afraid, a world of nepotistic back slapping and trips to Spearmint Rhino after a round of golf. Emmeline Pankhurst got the ball rolling but that same ball seems to stuck on the back nine and shows no sign of moving. So what do we do? Frankly, any vocalisation that there is disparity should be avoided, it will be attributed to hormones and you will lose what little credibility you barely have. Just keep doing what you're doing, secure in the knowledge that you are a saint and that they'll miss you when you've gone. Sure it's wrong on every level, you are probably smarter and more experienced than half of the little bastards currently looking down their noses at you but let them fester in their own over inflated egos. They may take home more money but money doesn't last forever whereas pride does. And if that fails, may I point out that there are 2 careers where women outperform and out earn the men a thousand times over.... Prostitution and Pornography. Not that I'm suggesting either but it always makes me smile.
17) Don't Be A Karaoke Diva - Unless you actually are Mariah Carey, Celine Dion or Adele you have no place getting on stage and caterwauling like a banshee. Karaoke is meant to be fun... for everyone, audience included. Generally all ballads should be avoided even if you have the pipes for it. If it involves hitting a note that only dogs and dolphins can hear it should be left well alone. You want to pick something upbeat, something the audience can sing along with. Tom Jones' "Delilah" is a classic, "Venus" by Bananarama is another gem. Grab some mates and murder "Wannabe" by the Spicies or even Gloria Gaynor's "I Will Survive" as a last resort. It's okay to look and sound ridiculous at Karaoke, it's practically a rite of passage but you have to be in on the ridiculousness. There is nothing sadder than someone butchering "My Heart Will Go On" with impassioned sincerity only to finish on a tone deaf melisma that leaves her gasping for breath and watching a pub full of people staring intently at their own shoes. Think Bleeding Ears not Bleeding Love.
18) Some Things Are Better Left Unseen - This will be controversial but I have to say it so abide by the constraints of Freedom of Speech and read with an open mind. Just because shops sell hot pants and crop tops in sizes 16-30 does not mean anyone in that demographic should wear them. Ever. I fall into this group so I feel justified in saying that a larger woman should avoid anything normally seen on Rihanna or Katy Perry. Being a big girl, Fashion can be viewed as a dirty word, so don't get sucked in to trying to emulate someone who lives on a diet of Coke*¹ and wheatgrass. Embrace your curves, show them off, an ample bust will beat visible ribs every time. Trust me on this. Look at the media treatment of Christina Aguilera when she gained a few pounds... and multiply that by whatever dress size you're currently wearing. You may hate me for saying it, but you'll thank me in the end.
*¹ Coca Cola obviously :)
19) The Boys In The Band And Why You'll Never Win - Never argue with a man about music or films as a) you'll never win (in their minds) and b) you will suffer needlessly. If you say anything negative about Star Wars *² or state your belief that Westlife were the best band ever *³, you will be forced to watch all 6 Star Wars films in chronological order and have to listen to so many hours of Progressive Rock that you'll be able to sympathise with the torture victims held in Guantanamo Bay. In my experience this is amplified (get it?) if the boy in question plays an instrument or is in a band, if this is the case Jimmy Page and David Gilmour are Gods and Spinal Tap is the greatest film ever made, which is sort of true. It's okay to have seen "The Notebook" 30 times and to dance to Kylie Minogue on your underwear, but never, under any circumstances admit it in mixed company. When the subject of films comes up, cite "Citizen Kane" or "Arsenic and Old Lace" as the greatest film ever made because everyone says "Citizen Kane" when most people have never sat through the whole thing and even fewer understood it (Spoiler - Rosebud is his childhood sled) and because actually "AAOL" is flawless and like Mary Poppins, is practically perfect in every way. Regarding music, The Beatles, Radiohead and/or The Rolling Stones are considered acceptable, as are Fleetwood Mac, Nirvana, Aerosmith or my personal favourite Queen. Don't get too muso unless you genuinely are, claiming Mumford & Sons, Badly Drawn Boy or Arcade Fire as musical geniuses when you've no clue who they are but read about them on Digital Spy once will earn you nothing but scorn because he WILL ask you your favourite track and "You know, the one from the advert" is not an acceptable answer.
*² The original 3 are awesome, 4 and 5 not so much and 6 is painful
*³ Shudder, don't ever say this, even as a joke
20) My Biological Clock Battery Broke And Why That's Okay - There is a point in every woman's life when she weighs up the big decisions: Regular vs Supersized, Brad vs George, Long Hair vs Short (Supersized, George and Short Hair if you're interested). Then there comes the epic decisions, marriage and babies. Not intrinsically linked, I have friends who have children but no spouse and vice versa, and most of them are very happy thank you very much. It never bothered me until recently when I found myself having to defend my life choices to an acquaintance for my lack of either. What began as a casual Tuesday morning chat swiftly became a tirade against my lack of procreation and my apparent failure as a woman to have avoided the blitzkrieg that is a wedding. And this conversation was with a man! Seems any woman over 30 who remains single and childless is a blight on humanity, her existence a waste of perfectly good DNA. Excuse me, but this isn't 1954. There is absolutely nothing wrong with being single regardless of gender and there are more than enough people out there happily living sprog filled lives to allow me to carry on guilt free. I never played Brides when I was a child and instead of baby dolls I had Lego. There is no physical or mental issue behind my lifestyle choices, I'm sure if I wanted to I could log onto KnockMeUp.com and be well on my way to babyville. I just don't want to. My biological clock is not ticking, it never has and at 37, I'm fairly certain it never will. Don't get me wrong, I love my friend's little bundles of poop, their squishy dribbly little faces vaguely reminiscent of a cross between a Shar-Pei and Gollum from Lord of the Rings. I love that my friends love them, that their lives now have a whole new level of meaning because they created a new life. It's a beautiful thing. But it's their thing, not mine so don't ram your baby down my throat and I won't reciprocate with my fist.
And there endeth lesson 4 in how to be as opinionated and petty as me.