As the cub of a trailblazing mother who crashed through the glass ceilings of British Leyland in the 70s like a brainier, breastier, blonder version of Jason Bourne , I consider myself a genetically ingrained feminist - but my conscious engagement with the actual literature of the sisterhood is woefully weak, mainly thanks to my love-hate relationship with Germaine Greer, who as a tutor in my university English department not only delivered some pretty patchy lectures on Rochester but also asked my then-boyfriend 'to tea' in a tone of voice that suggested she intended to use him for research for The Beautiful Boy. Deep down I was probably jealous that she didn't ask me instead. However, seeing the effortlessly glamorous and warm Susie Orbach speak at the Oxford Literary Festival about her latest book, Bodies, made me canon through the canon like a suffragette on a racecourse. As a cheerfully brainwashed broad who loves to muse on Woman's need to free Herself from society's mind-forg'd manacles while sipping a skinny Starbucks, wearing a T K Maxx silk blouse that makes me look like a swooning pre-Raph floosie, and secretly consoling myself that that gorgeous girl's thighs are possibly, possibly a centimetre bigger than mine, I've had a rather startling outbreak of genuine shame. Reading my new Vogue after Orbach was like drinking orange juice after brushing my teeth: arctically unpalatable.
I frequently feel the urge to be my own woman rather than a drivel-brained, disembodied girl; but for the first time Orbach has managed to activate a real mug-dar in my head. Last night I became fixated on an article about Natura Bisse's anti-ageing moisturiser, The Cure. The Cure! The Cure for what? For being female, and over twelve? For being mortal? For all that pesky facial skin?
Maybe it's resonating now because, at twenty-six, I've realised that I still often feel happier because my spot cleared up than because I just wrote 800 words that sang; that I'm spending sunny spring mornings staring at MTV in the gym; that most evenings I pass a lass with a bad boob job and scars on her arms sloping down Old Street like she's out to salvage her soul.
This doesn't mean I'm going to stop loving my bronze dancing shoes, but it does mean that I want to fill my mum's boots, too.