I’ve always been a feminist. Obviously. I like voting and earning my own money and running my own business and having the opportunity to do whatever I want to do. It’s very clear to me now that I’ll never be an astronaut or headline Glastonbury, but the option is the thing.
I just took the whole feminist thing as a given until I had Hector. All of a sudden, when you want to raise this little precious screaming thing as best you can, in the right way, the world is a scarier place. There’s just so much hate and fear, uncertainty and loss, and you simultaneously want to protect your tiny person from the horrible world and also enable them to create their place in it. They should be whoever they want to be.
So, when you start reading articles about the gender pay gap or the effects of sexting and porn on young people it increases your fear and frustration with the our culture. You might not think that I’d get that upset. After all, Hector is a boy and will grow up with all the privileges that go with it. But the patriarchy affects him too. What if he’s told he runs like a girl? That he can’t like Frozen or a princess dress? That he shouldn’t cry or express his feelings? Suicide rates for young men are high because this reason, as men struggle to seek help and support. There is an emphasis on men to be the strong ones, to bear the burden ‘for the women’. Gender still affects our decisions and how we are perceived in the world.
I don’t want Hector to dismiss a whole section of toys because they are in the pink section. As the campaign Let Toys be Toys promotes, the use of ‘real life’ or creative toys helps children understand caring for people or doing jobs around the home. Shouldn’t all men be able to cook now? To create a truly equal world, where women can go for the careers they want and make the best of their lives, responsibilities should be shared. Men can be capable of looking after their children and providing the emotional support that entails.
I know I’m not a shining example of this. I still struggle, using the wrong language or buying ‘girly’ toys for birthday parties. Being a woman affects how I feel in big meetings, my confidence, my reliance on a pretty dress to get me through those situations (I may dedicate another blog to all those times I have ridiculously over-dressed for meetings), and my inability to fully recognise the benefits I bring to businesses.
There’s a long way to go, for me, my son and the world. But I read a lot. I share articles and stories that affect me, I am a member of both the Fawcett Society and the Women’s Equality Party. I will talk about how I feel about feminism to any one that wants to ask me and if they think that we’re all equal now they are in for a lengthy discussion. I can wear my Feminist necklace with pride and deal with the bemused expressions. Just about.
As for Hector, he’s still very much a boy. It’s all Lego and Star Wars and superheroes for now. However much fake food I threw in front of him in his toddler years he was never one for playing house. Even now he only wants to cook with me because I let him hold a knife and chop things like a ninja. However, he is so overflowing with love for the world (he literally told this week, walking home from school “I love everyone in the whole world Mummy!”), and I think if you can keep that sort of feeling about you can cope with just about anything.
Freelance Marketing Consultant, especially that Social Media stuff.