I have always considered myself a ‘Feminist’ but then what woman hasn’t? What woman hasn’t wanted equality, to smash the glass ceiling or to be looked in the eyes not the chest? What woman hasn’t wanted the respect afforded to her male counter part or the salary to match?
I was never brought up by my sex, my grandparents always instilled in me the belief I could do anything if I worked for it. Being female and any inequality that may bring with it was never on my radar. The glass ceiling was never discussed, it didn’t exist. It was always – if you want it and if you work hard for it you will get it. I am grateful for this and this is how I will raise my daughter, and son.
That being said I have a tinge of disappointment writing this as I am not sure it is wholly true. You see I do believe, for a lot of us woman there is a glass ceiling in the workplace, especially if god forbid you should have children. I am not saying this is a carte blanche rule but for my part I have certainly experienced it. It is part of the reason I have not returned to work since having my children. It is also part of the reason I do not believe the career I left behind will be there for me when I return to work.
Had I gone back to work I am certain that I would have watched the careers of my full time peers who were my equals when I commenced my maternity leave grow and surpass mine as I work my part time week, or flexi hours around my children or have to stay home to nurse a sick toddler.
Admittedly this is conjecture, I have not returned to work and this is my point. Whilst I harbour these beliefs about woman’s rights and our equality I find myself in quite an ironic situation. A situation that was rather unnecessarily pointed out to me during an increasingly heated conversation about my so say ‘ wannabe feminist’ view point. I am a stay at home mum (a label I am yet to come to terms with – in fact I think this is the first time I have ‘labelled’ myself in such a way), I spend my days keeping my one/two year old combo alive, cleaning – yes Mr Tammy not a great deal of it but I do clean, washing and cooking whilst Mr Tammy goes to work to provide for us. I just need to bob off my blonde hair and you can call me Betty circa Mad Men, although I talk to my kids a little more and spend considerably less time in my kitchen smoking – mores the pity. Don’t get me wrong I would love to be able to financially provide for both myself and my family but the reality is Mr Tammy is the bread winner and if one of us was going to be the ‘free’ childcare it was always going to be me (FYI I love it more than that descriptions allows for). Before you all lynch me saying I could work and raise my children – I KNOW I could but there were many factors at play as to why I haven’t returned to work, which I painstakingly wrote in this post. Mostly however it was the right decision for the entire family at the time. So, was this person right – am I really helping to undue the work done to break down barriers, change the fate and stereotype of woman for our daughters and sons, when on paper I am in fact a stereotypical 1950s housewife that woman have fought to overturn?
It is not just the workforce where I am apparently letting the side down, I like wearing make up, doing my hair, wearing heels and I like to talk about these things with my mates. I like to glare over what Kerry Washington is wearing on the red carpet and I like to take fashion advice from Glamour magazine. I like to feel attractive and as though people see me that way. I have cried at work. I am guilty of lusting after Beck’s in his sarong and my favourite part of a football game is when they swop shirts at the end. If I want an equal world where woman are not objectified and are taken as seriously as my brother then perhaps I should look closer to home?
Perhaps I should, yet does any of the above really make me a hypocritical feminist? Yes I like to spend time in front of a mirror and I like people to notice but I also want people to see past that, to have a conversation with me and come away realising I can hold my own. To understand that I didn’t get a first class law degree by looking at Kerry in Prada. To know that whilst my role is now that of a SAHM I am doing all I can in the time I have to earn myself, albeit a little, financial independence and carve out a potential future income.
I celebrate woman who have achieved great things and set fabulous examples so much so I felt need to write about them in a previous post. I deplore regimes that oppress woman, cultures that that maintain woman should be seen and not heard, that keep woman indoors unless the are accompanied by a man. I despise the fact woman who speak up against rape can become vilified, or that we can be sold and traded as chattel and possessions. It makes my blood boil that a woman who openly enjoys sex or shows some leg or god forbid leg and cleavage is termed a ‘slut’ or ‘slag’ but a man who flaunts his sex life is seemingly celebrated and coined with somewhat more positive terms such as ‘stud’ or ‘lathario’. I could go on, and on, and on.
To my mind a feminist comes in many forms. A feminist doesn’t have to look a certain way, act a certain way, hold a certain office. Men and woman are different and our differences can be celebrated and embraced but is it too much to ask that we should also be equals? That we should be offered the same opportunity as one another? Surely our world is progressive enough that we can be different but expect the same treatment without being cast aside as wanting the best of both worlds or a hypocrite?
What do you think? I would love to hear from you.