I’d love to hear your thoughts on this because my definition of feminism is probably different to a lot of people’s. It saddens me that ‘feminism’ has become such a dirty word recently, and so as a woman in a position of privilege I wanted to discuss what I feel being a feminist is.
Oxford Learner’s Dictionary defines it as:
‘A person who holds the belief that a woman should have the same opportunities as men.’
Urban Dictionary says:
‘A person, usually but not necessarily of female gender, indoctrinated to find fault in everything a male does whilst believing all females can do no wrong. Feminists will use any lies, deceit, dubious statistics, manipulation, aggression and threats to eliminate any sense of fairness, justice or decency to men (or boys) irrespective of creed, ethnic background or colour. This includes the aim of eradicating traditional family values, ensuring children are deprived of all contact with their father wherever possible, and to dictate to the majority of truly sensible feminine women what they can and cannot do with their life.’
As you can see, some vastly different interpretations there.
Clearly, one is exaggerated but I think that a lot of people feel this way towards feminism now. Even some women are embarrassed to say they’re a feminist because some people immediately imagine that you’re a man-hater when, in fact, you can be a fabulous feminist and still enjoy the company of men and respect their rights.
I am a proud feminist. I also have four brothers, a dad who I am incredibly close with, an amazing stepdad, a wonderful male partner, and two beautiful little boys. As you can tell, I would struggle to be anything but respectful to men as I would just be arguing around the clock.
For me, being a feminist means supporting and helping other women, especially those less fortunate. It also means championing equal rights and respecting whatever decision a woman makes in her life with regards to work and family. I don’t believe all women should work, as much as I believe we shouldn’t all be tied to a sink somewhere. I think we should all have the right to choose what we want to do and be given the same opportunity as men would have.
I was always interested in what boys did as a child. Like I said, I had two brothers and we would wrestle, play manhunt, climb trees, play football; all the usual ‘boy’ things. My mum would try to make me wear dresses and I would scream bloody murder – I wanted to wear a football strip like everyone else! I struggled with girls outside of school because we didn’t have the same interests and those girls would think I was a weirdo because they wanted to play with Barbies where I wanted my GI Joe to shoot them all, or my Ghostbusters Slimer to slime them.
My best friend growing up was a boy and we would play Wally or Heads & Volleys every day. We played on the same football teams and I was always the only girl there. At a young age, he got to play for a good team in Manchester so I could no longer play – I got too old to be on a mixed team and there was no girls team so my dream of being a footballer died. This was when I realised life wasn’t equal between boys and girls.
As I got older, I would help my dad build things, help my stepdad renovate the house, and continued to play football as a hobby; anything that would keep me busy. The years went by and I entered the construction industry with Design & Build UK and then later, We Connect Construction.
I have experienced sexism on hundreds of occasions, but I have a bollocks to ‘em attitude which helps me move on. Recently, though, I’ve realised that not everyone is like this and incidents involving sexism can often be enough to throw some women off guard, making them give up on their careers purely based off how they’ve been treated.
I never thought anyone should have the power to stop someone from living how they want to live, and the more I became educated on other women’s experiences and the lack of equal opportunities within business, careers, and in general life the more I realised I was quickly becoming a feminist.
For me today this simply means equal opportunity, the right to choose what you want for your own life. We don’t all have to burn our bras or protest, but we must stick together. A lot of bad experiences of mine have come from other women. For years I think women have felt threatened by other women, judged on their decisions – if you work full time, you’re a bad mother to your children, if you stay at home, you’re not much more than a housewife. We can’t just be women.
I’m the kind of person who thinks you can have it all – go to work and still be a fabulous mother, drink Prosecco with friends and leave the fella to babysit, start a business with long work hours but still have time for the kids. Just do what you want and if someone is trying to stop you, speak to another woman in your position for support.
I don’t think being a feminist is a bad thing. It doesn’t have to be extreme – be nice, kind, open-minded, and help give a voice to those who aren’t as fortunate as you. Give a voice to the other women fighting for equality and help them with what they deserve; equal pay, equal rights, and no bother for seeking them.