Feminism

A feminist is anyone who recognizes the equality and full humanity of women and men.

Gloria Steinem

Flower

If the word that I wrote about on the third day of this challenge should be known as “the C-word”, then today’s topic, often approached with similar embarrassment and trepidation, can only be described as “the F-word”.

I was shocked recently to hear a woman in her thirties say, “I’m not a feminist, but I don’t understand why, when my husband and I work the same number of hours, it’s me who’s expected to do anything involved with childcare or housework.”

Why the hell isn’t she a feminist?!

I discussed this with a group of women shortly after, and one of them suggested that it’s the fault of radical feminists throughout the ages. They’ve given feminism a bad name.

I must admit that that’s true. We have so much to blame on those radical feminists of the past.

Like those insufferable Suffragettes and their insistence on chaining themselves to railings. If it weren’t for them we wouldn’t have to go out and vote, but could just sit at home and concentrate on our embroidery while our trusted menfolk went out to make those troubling political decisions for us.

And what about Amelia Bloomer and her early Victorian cohorts, who promoted the idea that trousers might be more practical for women than long, heavy skirts that impeded any sort of rapid movement? They obviously didn’t spare a moment’s thought for the women who’d live 130 years after they were comfortably in their graves, who might have liked to be spared the daily choice between jeans and skirts.

And don’t even get me started on those pesky women who first fought for the right to birth control. If they hadn’t been so insistent we could all still be rewarded for our desire for a quickie on a Sunday afternoon with our fourth, fifth or sixth baby.

I must also give brief mention to a radical feminist called Eve Ensler, who 15 years ago wrote a play that made it possible for a group of women to stand on a stage in Geneva and talk about vaginas to an audience of men and women of a wide range of backgrounds, ages and nationalities. Didn’t she consider that we might have preferred to quietly acquiesce to sex without having to, you know, talk about it?

When I was younger I was grateful to the extreme feminists of the generations that preceded mine. It was their extremism that allowed me not to be extreme. But what are the generations that follow ours going to thank us for? Perhaps our radicalism might make it possible for boys to express their emotions and to view girls as equals. With any luck – and some expedient action – we might ensure that, for our daughters and granddaughters, equal pay for equal work is an obvious and accepted fact. Or maybe they’ll doff their imaginary caps to us when they realise that our radicalism resulted in affordable childcare for all.

The F-word? Fuck that. I’m a feminist. Fullstop.

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