• Emily Baines

A moment in time: What feminism means to me.

I am a feminist. I was bought up on Germaine Greer ideas in a household where my mother always earnt more than my father. She paid for most things whilst my dad bought cars and had a new DIY project every week. What I’m saying is I have not had to fight to get dinner on the table. I have been lucky with my upbringing and careers. I have had the privilege to overthink on this matter.

First off, I think I need to say that my version of feminism is equality (sensitive people seem to appreciate this distinction). I understand that there are biological differences between men and women (generalisations aside). Sure, men can be physically stronger than women. Women can be more maternal. Based on this logic, perhaps certain roles are more suited to different genders (if you choose to identify to the binary code, if not, ignore all that).

But in the modern world of intellectual warfare I find it difficult that gender roles still seem to be an issue.

Why in a meeting do I have to wait for a man to talk first? Why have had to learn to get my idea across in the most agreeable way, even though I know it’s right?

However, I have always accepted that sometimes if there are issues in my personal life I will be more emotional and being a woman this is socially acceptable (almost expected). It is my belief that the fallout of the intellectual progression, as we become more materially focused, richer and (generally) have to struggle less to put food on the table, is mental health problems. I am not ashamed to say I suffer quite a bit with this and will use the sexist reaction to my advantage.

Now this is a thought, (again you will have to excuse my generalisations); males are bought up to be strong and know their worth so they can get a job that can put food on the table, and these days tablets in their child’s hands. They are provided tools from a young age to be confident of their abilities. Females are bought up with the outdated idea of ‘being a lady’; essentially to be seen and not heard. The rules of female behaviour tell us not to be outspoken, how to avoid sexual assault and to confirm to the current ideas of attractive. The funniest ones I have always thought is to stand up straight (which I know is good for your back) but which inevitably pushes your boobs out. Or that you have to close your legs so no one gets too excited about a glimpse of covered vagina.

These rules which don’t coincide with being a ‘strong independent women’ and the beauty ideals of the media aren’t very confidence inducing. Now if we could put a value on the confidence level two similar people one a women and one a man, would they be different?

So if two people with a very different confidence levels were given a bracket of monetary values to define their worth, they would choose differently. Could that be the gap in the pay? Now it is still an issue, but are we looking at the symptom rather than the cause?

Recently, I was asked to remove my personal perspective from the argument (not a real debate, I hasten to add. It was 3am and I had been drinking prosecco like a trouper). I really tried but could not seem to manage it. I don’t know every statistic on the matter, and all I have is other people’s and my own personal experiences. I am also not politically savvy, which for some reason everyone seems to think is the only non-emotional intellectual topic; I can’t be bothered to pay attention to the gossipy lives of people in power for power. The people I would like in power are scattered across the world doing good with their own two hands. So I realised the only reason I care is because of my own personal experiences, after all as Carol Hanisch says“The personal is political”.

I have and have had wonderful men in my family and life who think I’m amazeballs. But I have also suffered from sexism in the workplace and multiple occasions of sexual assault from males. We still require feminism in the world. But what annoys me is the resistance. There is still so much debate around feminism and whether we need it. Whether it serves a purpose. The world is changing, get over it. No one questions the IPhones, or the new generations’ technology. Feminism is the new generation of views. Accept it and move on.

I’ll leave you with a quote I have heard many times in my life:

“That is life, you just have to do these things” – My mother.

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