I’ve always been a rather independent and strong willed individual, which is a polite way of saying I’m a stubborn cow. If you knew my Mother you’d expect nothing more from me. (This is the part where my Mum gets very offended and turns a funny shade of burgundy. Please Mother wait and let me explain.)
My Mum is the kind of person who will stand behind her beliefs steadfastly and will gladly argue her point when called upon to do so. She is a strong woman who has achieved many great things in her life. Including raising two children, having a highly successful career in nursing, being involved in all kinds of political marches and let us not forget when she put together a ‘bandit’ costume so superb she used the mens loos in a pub without detection. She has stood up and defended her family on many occasions and has always fought for people whose voices are often ignored. My Mother is a force to be reckoned with and I admire her beyond belief for all these things.
Baring all this in mind, it shouldn’t be very surprising that a woman like my Mum has a raised a similarly passionate and independent feminist daughter. I suppose I’ve always been a feminist. Even as a small child if anyone, man, woman dog or goose, had told me that I, “shouldn’t say this” or “couldn’t do that because, you’re a guuurluh” I would snort indigently and do whatever it was that they had tried to dissuade me from doing. “Perhaps I can’t climb the rickety branches to the top of that tall tree but that has nothing to do with my gender!” I would shout at the lads in a less articulate manner, “You should at least give me the opportunity to try and reach the top!” I would proceed to slip and scramble up through the leaves until the boys were mere specks jumping around in the dirt. The sense of triumph I felt as I hung to a branch was both immeasurable and short lived, as I soon realised that going up wasn’t necessarily the issue but rather the descending part.
“How could I be a feminist?” I wondered to myself, “I wear dresses, shave under my armpits and love it when my boyfriend calls me sweetheart. No I’m not a feminist, I agree with everything they say and stand for but ‘feminist’ is a dirty word for angry women and people will laugh at me if I say I’m one of them.” It is clear to me now that this aggressive, man hating, sweaty, preacher woman is an image of propaganda that the patriarchy is feeding the masses to make feminism into something undesirable for women to aspire towards. This parody of a feminist is the absolute antithesis of everything feminine and everything a young girl is told she should be. “Look at the dirty feminist children, but don’t get too close as she may infect you with her agenda! This fearsome soul is so frightfully awful that no man will ever desire her! She will never be wed nor bare children leaving her life’s purpose forever unfulfilled.”
Only in the past few months have I began to relate to the label of feminist, since then I’ve thrown myself into the world of feminism. I had never realised how many different subjects there are to discuss within this realm. I have so much to learn about this world of outspoken women and I intend to document my journey.
Perhaps I am not yet deserving of the full feminist title, I am entry level, an absolute beginner of feminism. Therefore I do not claim to know it all but if I may, I’d like to describe my interpretation of feminism and what it means to me. Being a feminist is about being able to act, think, speak and express myself as freely as I’d like. Not to be judged as a ‘woman’ but as an individual. To be able to set my own goals and be able to define for myself what it is to be a woman. Finally and possibly most importantly, feminism is about celebrating womanhood and all it’s inhabitants. I’m very curious to hear how other people view feminism and how they apply it to their own lives and experiences.
I am yet to stand on the rooftops and scream, “I am a feminist!” In fact I’ve been very sheepish in telling people for fear of their ridicule. There are only a handful of people I have confided in about my views and most of those have rolled their eyes, scoffed at me and shown other such displays of belittlement. I’d be lying if I said that it didn’t affect me at the time, I had hoped for warm embraces of acceptance but instead was met with disapproval. That was, until tonight when I discussed the matter for the first with my Mum….
“Mum, what would you say to me about being a feminist?”
She giggled and said, “well I’d probably say, I’m a feminist too!”