Forgive me for wandering into the muddy waters of politics but this is a hot topic and it’s also something rather personal, seeing as I am a lady. Yes, its the ‘Feminist Issue’. This post has been knocking around in my head and my heart for a little while now, probably stirred up a bit after the strong reaction to Emma Watson’s brilliant ‘HeForShe‘ speech at the UN and all of the debate around those great Elle teeshirts.
This post is also in part in response to all of those glibly annoying ‘celeb’ statements like ‘I am a feminist but I still like men’. Do they seriously think that being a feminist equals being a man-hater? I suspect that they may also think it means going bra and deodorant free whilst plaiting your own leg hair. Well, I am a feminist and let me tell you this, the bra, pit stink and bloke bashing thing is not my bag (but in Winter I do find a bit of leg fluff quite cozy).
With that in mind, I thought that clarifying the meaning of feminism was a very good place to start. This is how the dictionary defines it:
“The doctrine advocating social, political, and all other rights of women equal to those of men.”
I am privileged enough to exist in circumstances that don’t cause me to analyse or consider this topic very often. Of course I am affronted by the fact that women are not paid equally to their male counterparts. Of course I am disgusted by the exclusion of girls from the education system in some countries. I am also incensed on a regular basis by casual sexual stereotyping, but I honestly can’t think of any significant moments when this has negatively impacted me personally, my opportunities or my career.
I have always been gobby, determined, opinionated and sometimes people don’t like that. Well, you can’t please all of the people all of the time! I am also highly emotional, affectionate and working on coming to terms with my vulnerability. Actually, all of that could also be said about most of my family and friends of either gender- and perhaps that is the key to this for me. I am super fortunate to have been brought up without being categorised by the cliches attached to my gender, and I, in turn, don’t presume peoples abilities by their gender either.
That said, I love being a woman and all the things that are specific to my gender (boobs, multi-tasking, makeup, high heels, fabulously complex undies, being treated like a lady by a gentleman with good manners amongst many, many other things) but I don’t consider these better, worse, weaker or stronger than those things that are specific to the male gender (standing up to wee, excellent tailoring, wet shaves, burping without embarrassment etc).
I work in a creative field where I have always been surrounded by other strong females, in a majority female workforce. I have had as many brilliant male bosses as I have had brilliant female bosses, and also had run-ins with crazy nutters of both sexes running the show! As a fashion designer I would suggest that I have been equally paid, if not better paid than some of my male counterparts, but it is hard to tell in an industry where wages are generally merit and experience based, as well as being highly variable.
I am now my own boss, running my own company that is majority female staffed, paying my own mortgage, driving my own car. That is not because I’m a feminist. That is because I am me and those are the choices that I have made. Well, obviously I am eternally grateful to have been able to make those decisions but isn’t that more to do with economy, culture and geography than anything else? Does that make me a feminist by circumstance?
What I do know is that I am all about equality and opportunity on every level, and if needed I will fight for it (I love boxing but please don’t punch me in the boobs. That’s just bad darts). I’d love to hear your thoughts on this so please do leave me your comments.