I was the best of feminists; I was the worst of feminists. I’m not what a stereotypic feminist looks like – aside from the fact that I’m a female. I’m a stay at home mum; I’m not crashing through any glass ceilings; The business I’m starting is in a female dominated field, that will probably not bring in a full living wage for my family; I get my partner to take the bins out, mow the lawn and talk to the bank. I do not “have it all” – nor do I want it all. But I AM a feminist! It’s just that as I’ve grown I’ve realised that I don’t have subscribe to one definition of feminism…I can be whatever type of feminist I want. And I can choose to live my values however I see fit. Because isn’t THAT what feminism is all about – Choice?
So how did I come to this sense of peace about my feminist life?
1) Age 5 - I told my mum that my children (3 girls name Flower, Daisy and Daffodil) didn’t need a dad…Because what do men do anyway?
2) In my early teens I was very vocal about the fact that “women can do whatever a man can!” I scolded a family friend that “there’s no such thing as “men’s work”!” I wanted to be a human rights lawyer for the UN (gee…it could have been ME marrying George Clooney!!) and fight the good fight for women everywhere.
He could have been mine! Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons
3) As I entered my late teens feminism had a new focus for me. I entered into my first “serious” relationship. Feminism became more about ensuring that my partner was aware of just who wore the pants in that relationship. It became about proving that “I am the boss”. About proving that I was better than a man. Needless to say, that relationship didn’t last long…although it lasted about 2 and a half years longer than anyone expected it too!
4) As a newly single woman in my early 20s feminism took an interesting turn. Starting with the premise that women can do anything that men can I decided that I could have sex like a man. No…not like that! I decided that I could sleep around and make no commitments. I could go out and drink and pick up whichever man took my fancy that night. In between studying and working, of course! My chance to “have it all”. I have to admit – this was feminism at its most fun! But all good things must come to an end.
5) I met “the one”. Feminism became about protecting myself. Keeping separate finances. Ensuring he realised that I didn’t “need” him. Still trying to “prove” my independence. Then I had the ultimate chance to prove my independence once and for all. I got a job located at the other end of the state. Obviously he wasn’t scared off by my desire to prove my independence as we are still together 8 years on. I still refuse to marry him. Our children have both our names rather than just his. I still try to prove I’m the boss.
6) In my most recent feminist incarnation feminism is no longer about not needing a man or about trying to be like a man. It’s about celebrating and exploring the differences between the genders. Because being a woman is about more than just “mummy and have vulvas and daddy and The Dude have penises” – a truth spoken by Little Ms this morning while on the potty! Being a woman DOES mean that I have a vulva. And a vagina and a uterus and breasts. And, frighteningly, it means that people are allowed to tell me what to do with these body parts – Obstetricians, midwives and random woman at the shop who thinks I should be induced RIGHT NOW because I’m 41 weeks and that shouldn’t be allowed, should it? I’m still a feminist because no man will ever be at risk of dying from a caesarean. No one will ever tell my partner to just “lie back and think of the baby” as they force their hand, unnecessarily inside him. He’ll never be subject to judgement for breastfeeding in public and when people see him bottle feeding they will smile and comment about what an awesome dad he is to be “helping out” and feeding the baby. People will applaud the fact that he is willing to “baby-sit” his own children. And he’ll be applauded for working so hard outside the home – no-one will question why he would want to do that now that he has a child.
The presence of a uterus within our bodies puts us at unique risk. Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons
So I am a still a feminist: Because I am a woman. Because I am a mother. Because I have a daughter.