Wednesday, 9 July 2014

I am a feminist

Lots of women standing on chairs.


Crap.  It's been six months since I last wrote.  Crappity crap.  Let's gloss over this failure on my part, and glide gracefully towards a far more important development.

Last night, I stood on a chair and shouted "I AM A FEMINIST!" at Caitlin Moran.  Not all by myself, because that would have been weird.

I was lucky enough to see La Moran at Battersea Arts Centre, as part of her "How to build a girl" tour.  I was prepared to be inspired, to laugh a lot, and to have to fight the urge to cover my younger sister's ears at some of the content (she's 28 and just got married, so really I need to let that go, but you know how it is...)

I was unprepared, however, to be asked to stand on my chair and holler the aforementioned feminist vow.  I felt more than a little uncomfortable, to be honest.  First, due to my ever-present fear of being huge and breaking things (for probable cause, see my Pampered Bliss post, Sep 2012), I was concerned for the chair.  Second, given that I really really needed a wee, I had a somewhat (hoho) pressing concern that after 2 children, my bladder appears to be fresh out of patience. But the main reason was this (I feel like we should whisper it.  Can we whisper please?):

I wasn't sure I could claim to be a feminist.

I think of myself as a strong woman.  I adore my female friends.  I was brought up believing that I could be absolutely anything I wanted - I don't think it ever crossed my mind that perhaps I couldn't do something because I was a girl.  I grew up thinking I'd probably get married and have children, but equally, if I didn't, I'd just crack on with being the CEO of something, wear some amazing suits and drive a porsche.  And that would be cool too.

The trouble is, since leaving work and becoming a stay at home Mum nearly six years ago, I've felt a little unsure about what that does to my feminist credentials.  Could I still claim to be one, when I'm at home all day, nurturing my small people and trying vaguely to get the house back to square one each night?  Would my working female friends scoff at any assertion that I was a feminist, when I earn nothing and contribute nothing financially to the household?  Not to mention that hideous box that I must now tick on surveys for profession: Housewife / Homemaker.  Ugh.  The word Housewife makes me grimace.  I didn't marry my house.  I married Mr W, poor chap.  Housewife makes me feel shackled and bound to the sink. It makes me feel like a frumpy frazzled woman with a housecoat and feather duster.  I loathe that word.  *Makes note to self: Must find new word for what I do all day that isn't a) freakin' horrible, and b) unnecessarily American.*

Anyhoo.  I am nothing if not a joiner-iner (totally a word) so I got on that chair and shouted those words with as much giddy abandon as my lady parts would permit.  And in the hours that followed, I nodded, cackled and belly laughed as Caitlin breathed new life into feminism for me.  The notion that someone can only be a feminist if they're a ball busting career gal?  Gone.  The concern that being a Mum and H-word rules you out of Team Feminism?  Wrong.  Instead of feeling apologetic for opting to stay home to raise my boys, I feel as though I can now look the world in the eye and say "Yup.  That's a thing I've chosen to do."  And actually, the more I relish that, the more I hope to set a shining example to the boys and bring them up with the understanding that women can do anything, be anything, achieve anything.  I'm helping to raise the next generation of male feminists.  Go me!

So thank you, Caitlin, for the wake up call.  For giving me a new perspective and a huge smile on my face.  Oh, and for reminding me to write or DIE (unpublished).  Wise words indeed.

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