A few years ago if someone had asked me if I was a feminist I probably would ummed and ahhed over it before saying something along the lines of ‘ooh well, I don’t know. I mean I think we should be equal and everything but does that mean I’m a feminist? I wouldn’t burn my bra and I don’t hate men so….’ Today, if someone asked me the same question I would say a resounding ‘YES’ before hitting them over the head and shouting ‘Down with the patriarchy.’ Probably.
Anyway the point is my views have changed dramatically in a relatively short space of time and I think there are two reasons for this.
One, I have children and more specifically, a daughter. It’s as simple as that. When I look at Olivia I want her to have every opportunity there is in life. I want her to be able to be a scientist, a barrister, a doctor, an astronaut, a writer – basically whatever she wants to be without having to deal with sexism and sexual politics to get where she wants to be. I hate the thought that someone might say ‘you can’t do that because you’re a girl’ and she might accept that statement as fact. (It happened to me when I was four and a boy told me I couldn’t wear trousers because I was a girl. I stopped wearing them and only wore them again when I was 19. No really. I must have been a clothing nightmare for my mum!) When I think of what my son’s future careers could be it rarely occurs to me that he might not be allowed to be whatever he wants to be. At the moment he wants to be a historian but only a few years ago his career choice was a bin man. (You never hear of bin women…)
The point is I don’t want Olivia to miss out on something because of her gender. I tried to explain to her a while ago that she could be anything she wants to when she grows up. She smiled at me and said ‘but mummy, I’m going to be a fairy when I grow up.’ Oh.
The second reason I have changed my view is Twitter. Or more specifically the people on Twitter. There are some amazing women in the Twittersphere. Yes and obviously some amazing men too. But the women have really affected me. Some I know in real life *waves at Keris* some I only know as Twitter names but they have all made me rethink my opinions and attitude, including Bea Magazine and the fabulous people who write for it. Anyone who knows Keris or reads her blog will know she is passionate about gender issues. At first I was a bit sceptical about the whole gender thing. ‘Does it really matter if girls wear pink and boys’ toys are blue?’ I thought. But the more I have read and seen the more it has started to annoy me. (At this point Keris is cheering.) I have to admit some of it still doesn’t bother me that much but every time I go into a shop and see signs saying girls’ toys and boys’ toys I tut and think ‘why can’t girls play with decent Lego?’
Twitter has opened up so many things to me that I’m sure my husband is fed up of me announcing ‘someone on Twitter said…’ I have been appalled when reading about the abuse women get when they express an opinion and horrified at some of the reports I have seen about ‘rape culture.’
But most of all I have felt part of a greater process. A change in me and my thinking. I want the world to be a better place for both my children to grow up. Where my son is not odd if he has respect for women because that is the norm and where my daughter can go out and not be afraid something bad will happen.
Looking back I’ve always been a feminist. I just didn’t realise it until now.