Wednesday, 21 December 2011

Feminism and me

So a little bit of a side-ways step from my last few blogs, but something I felt compelled to write about. I'm not quite sure why today, of all days (apart from the fact I've been on the wine) but it felt important. So here it is. My view on feminism.

I am a feminist. No apology; no qualification. I believe that women should be viewed, treated and paid equally to men. I am lucky in that I am not a public figure. I can (and believe I should) talk about feminism without losing record sales, or votes, or the respect of my managing directors. Too many people still see feminism as "...some kind of putting on of a man's angry cloak." when, as far as I can tell, it is merely about achieving equality. (Please correct me if I am wrong; I obviously only have a small female brain.) As I read today, it is "...a common-sense theory of equality."  So why then, is it still such a contentious issue?

I understand that there has been a school of feminists who believe that all men are pigs. I do not believe that. I quite like men. (I quite like women too!) But I am equally concerned to hear that there is a school of women who believe that the term feminism has nothing to do with them. Worse, that " is “unattractive” for a woman to talk about feminism and will earn her a reputation of being “pushy, problematic or troublesome.”


Saying a woman shouldn't talk about feminism is the equivalent of saying we should still be confined during pregnancy, or not touched during menstruation, or not have the vote.

This is ridiculous.

If you think feminism is an outmoded, outdated, irrelevant concept, then I want to live in your world. In my world, the 'traditional' western expectations of women are still well and truly embedded. Whether it be doing the ironing, cooking the dinner, or raising the children, the majority of families and people I encounter believe these are a woman's jobs. Never mind if she is also the major bread winner in the family.

Obviously I don't do these things. (Well I don't have children - and that's a whole other blog - I refuse to iron and I live on crap food.) But should I want to, I'd be doing them for me. Not because someone (and I pin this on women as much as men) expects me to. This doesn't make me someone who is at danger of  "...being radical, of going against the grain, of being disruptive.” Actually, let me rethink that statement. In fact it makes me exactly that. And of that, I am proud. Why the hell shouldn't we be disruptive? If, what we are disrupting, is a patriarchal, unfair dominance? What's worse, from my point of view, is that women now seem to be re-invigorating this ideal.

Don't get me wrong, I am all about choice. If you don't want to work and want to bring up your children, good for you. I couldn't do it. But it is those women who seem to think being a house wife is their only option, or that, if they do go out to work, they must compensate for every movement away from the familial nest, that worry me.

I am a teacher - a profession in which (nominally) your gender does not affect your job or pay. Yay! But I am witness to an increasing number of female students whose only aim in life is to get married and have babies. Really? Is that all you think you can achieve? (Again, I realise I am probably angering loads of women who will tell me that having babies is an amazing thing and I shouldn't dismiss it. I'm sure you're right. But it's not the only choice in life.) Just because you are female, doesn't mean you have to follow a particular path in life.

If I told you that you could only ever wear pink clothes, drive a pink car and decorate your house in pink, because you were a girl, you would probably laugh at me. Even Hamley's, that bastion of traditional toy shopping has "stopped labelling its floors in blue for boys and pink for girls ... and rearranged toys by type rather than gender..." Thank Christ for that! In case you're not aware, the whole 'pink for girls, blue for boys' concept is a relatively new one. In fact, in 1918, the convention was the other way round. "...the generally accepted rule is pink for the boy and blue for the girl. The reason is that pink being a more decided and stronger colour is more suitable for the boy, while blue, which is more delicate and dainty, is prettier for the girl." So why do we still insist on people following the limited gender identities which society paints for them?

And I haven't even got onto the subject of differentiated pay by gender. A topic for another day, methinks! Back to my original topic though, I have to leave the last word to Morgan, a longtime feminist activist, who says, "The bottom line: I don’t care if a woman wants to call herself ‘squirrel,’ as long as she fights for herself and other women.”


Tuesday, 25 October 2011

The nature of grief...

I suppose before you read any further, I should make it clear that this is not a humourous or light-hearted blog. On the contrary, despite my resolution to use this space for frivolous reviews, I feel the need for at least one more confessional / getting-it-off-my-chest blog.

It's been over half a year now since I lost one of my best friends. I'd lost people before: mostly relatives. But I have never felt anything like this before. Before, grief had always been a sharp shock, followed by a dull ache which faded to an occasional twinge. But this? This has not faded in the slightest. This is a stabbing continual pain which never seems to go away. Sometimes I think the pain is due to something else, and sometimes it is - at least on the surface. But always, he's there. Or rather he isn't.

I feel so terrible for those who were even closer to him than I was. What right have I to continually wallow in this grief which others have much more right to than I? I hope this blog doesn't make any of them feel worse: that's the last thing I want to do. But I need to talk about it, and the anonymous nature of the Internet offers me the respite that I need. I don't do feelings - I tend to squish them down and pretend they don't exist. And I know (hello wine) that's a bad plan. Unfortunately, I am not used to any healthy ways of dealing. I feel guilty about dumping my issues on other people, even if they tell me otherwise. How do you learn not to feel like that? Recently, I ended up crying my eyes out to a very good friend (only once alcohol had demolished my barriers) but all I feel now is guilt for possibly upsetting him, rather than relief.

I think I have lost the point of this blog - I'm not sure it ever had one. But I think if I could say one thing, it would be this. Grief is unpredictable, it is unreliable and it is unexpected. One thing it is not, is unbearable. I have to believe that at least.

Ro x

Sunday, 1 May 2011

Long overdue comments

Dear Gav

I know I haven't written before now, but I didn't think I could. Still not sure I can. Thank God I'm doing this in the privacy of my own home.

I miss you. I miss you more than I have the vocabulary to say and, as you well know, I have a massive vocabulary. (And choose to use it most of the time.)

I didn't realise I'd miss you this much and sometimes I forget. In a way, that's the worse thing. Forgetting. You were such an inherent part of my life that to realise you are gone is bizarre. There is no other way to describe it. It's not just wrong; it's not just sad. It's weird. Unacceptable. Unbeliveable. I'll be in The Sloop and expect you to walk in. Or at least text to say you're running late!

I've looked back over my Facebook today and realised just how often you mentioned me - and so many other people. We all miss you. Much as you pissed us off with your paranoid belly-aching, we loved, love you. So much has changed since you've gone. Some of it had to. Some of it is as a result. My life is inexorably altered.

Crying is something you know I did far too much but hated. And crying is something I've tried my utmost to avoid. But I can't not. When I think about never seeing you again, never having a random conversation, never again bemoaning your lack of organisation, it is more than I can physically bear. And I cry.

I wish to God I had spoken to you more before you were gone. Life is not the same, and I don't want it to be. I just want to be able to hug you once and breathe in that aroma of Gav. My friend. My comfort.

Ro. La Seductrice. Rosemary. xx