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If you think feminism is an outmoded, outdated, irrelevant concept, then I want to live in your world.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.”


1 comment:

  1. Excellent post! Can I also add how frustrating it is that there is such a lack of feminists in Dorset. I'm so glad I found this!