I'm talking about the "F" word. Not the "F" word I don't use in front of my parents, but Feminism.
It can be a dirty word these days. Call yourself a “Feminist” and some people conjure up images of a cropped-haired, Doc-Marten wearing, man-hating harridan.
Yet we’re quite willing – well, women are – to reap the benefits of Feminist activists. We can work, vote, and by-and-large women have far more freedom now than at any point in history.
But I certainly don’t feel equal. My parents and brother (understandably) don’t like me catching Public Transport alone late at night. I don’t particularly like it myself. (Though I will have it noted that I’ve seen far more “trouble” during the day than late at night). There are still occupations that are considered “manly” and that women have no place doing. If you play sport as physically as men, derogatory insults follow you off the field.
I used to play pool. I was, at the time, one of only a handful of women who played. Because most of my friends are male anyway, I didn’t think much of it, until you’d come across a man who thought you must be “One of the boys”, a slut, or in some other way deficient. It couldn’t possibly be the case that I just happened to like a sport that more men than women indulged in, there had to be a reason for it. I hate that attitude.
I don’t wear make-up every day. I wear heels to work, but switch to sneakers when I clock off, and on the way in, mainly because I do a fair bit of walking to get to and from work. I don’t take as much care of my appearance as some women, and I have few female friends. I firmly believe that within the obvious physical constraints of the sexes, I am as capable as the next man.
Does this make me a freak? Sometimes it feels like it. There’s still a huge belief, especially amongst the older generations, that women are just different. And I agree. Biologically and physically there are differences. But when they use the word “different” it feels like they’re saying “inferior”
I hate the fact that I can’t walk the streets like a man because I’m seen as easy prey – That’s not equality.
I hate that if I’m not wearing make-up every day I’m “not making the most of myself”, yet all a man has to do is brush his hair – That’s not equality.
I hate the fact that women who try and do something about it are told they”should be men” or aspersions are cast on their sexuality – That’s not equality.
I don’t want much, really. I’d like to be able to get a late train home without being concerned that people are worrying about me. I’d like to be able to be myself without people looking at me like I’m letting myself down. I’d like to be able to have the same options that my brother does – but I don’t.
Have we stalled? Are we at the limit of freedom in terms of being a woman? Will the glass ceiling get any easier to shatter? I hope it will.
I don’t want to be treated like a man; I’d like to be treated as an equal. I’d like to live in a world where my contribution is seen as every bit as valuable as men’s – regardless of whether I wear high heels or make up.
I don’t think we’re there yet.
But how do we get there when our one option – activism, has become a dirty word?
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