This is the age of tattooed women with pit bulls at their side. This is the age of females tongue-kissing females on global television. This is the age of slut-walks and pole-dancing as feminist statements. This is the age of grrrl power, cougars and boy-toys. This is the age of choice.
She suddenly appears from around the corner, walking with resolve. She has the body of a weight lifter: solid – clothes filled to the brim. A pit bull strides on a leash before her. He is sleek, and like a muscle car with a hood scoop he is eager with the impulse of his breed. He pulls at his muzzle, sniffing the air like a guard searching for assassins – until the woman yanks his tether. As they pass I give them wide berth, and notice that the bull is a she. They advance as one: extensions of each other, on a mission to who knows where.
I rummage the cast off treasures displayed in a thrift shop when I see her from behind. Her back is a canvas subdivided by a red tube-top. A chocolate mane is cast to one side displaying a massive tattoo of yellows, blacks and reds. From her bare shoulder it disappears beneath the stretchy fabric then reappears for a moment like a serpent along the valley of her spine only to plunge again into the privacy of blue-jeans. Without making a purchase, she leaves through the doorway as if through a portal to another dimension.
While eating lunch at a table dominated by females, the conversation becomes generously peppered with expletives like S-it and F—ck. It is the women who launch them as if they cannot express what they feel without a blue vocabulary. The men remain silent. Later, one of the women apologizes to me for chronically cussing. I am struck and amused by the irony of a woman excusing herself for swearing in the presence of a man. She makes a commitment to dilute the colour of her language, and over time she succeeds.
On the esplanade abutting the cool lake, a flock of young women in shorts and bikini-tops stroll their way toward the pub. In her honey-blonde hair, one wears the semblance of a bridal veil. And tucked in her arm she holds the inflated image of a naked man with apparatus in full extension. Her buddy carries a large poster of tasks that this stagette expects her to accomplish: “Drink a shot between a guy’s legs,” it challenges, “Get a guy to let you sign his butt,” and more. They are unabashed when I ask to take a photo of them and their neoprene companion. They pose, each one with leg slightly tilted toward the centre.
On Turner Classic Theatre I watch the women of the ‘40s and ‘50s portray the feminine ideals of their time. Audrey Hepburn, Donna Reed and Bette Davis seem like aliens from another planet. And I consider that the liberation of modern women from the drawbacks of their ancestors has legitimately transformed the way they think about themselves. But in this age of choice I wonder if too much has been discarded.