The F Word - Why it's (more than) OK to be a feminist
Twice over the summer, two awesome, ambitious and strong women have said to me, “I’m not a feminist, but…..” They didn’t get to finish their sentences (sorry guys) because I immediately leapt on them. My husband did his best eye-roll – he’s heard it all before – as I explained, slightly hysterically, that feminism just means equality. That’s all it means. We shouldn’t need the word, just as we shouldn’t need the #BlackLivesMatter hashtag, just as we shouldn’t need disability discrimination laws, just as Aussies shouldn't need to be hassled to vote for same-sex marriage to become law. (C’mon Aus, any excuse for dad-dancing at a wedding. Oh and y'know, equality.)
Some amazing writers who I love and admire have said this far more eloquently than I can – check out Caitlin Moran if you haven’t already. But I’m not sure why we’ve had to? Because surely, SURELY, equality should be the start. The base line. The first step. Everyone is equal – sure, we are different, but equal. And if we take it from there, we don’t have to explain consent to our teenagers. We don’t have to tell uni-leavers to watch the gender pay-gap. We know that our daughters can achieve the same as our sons.
A friend who is a stay-at-home-mum moans about the attitude she gets at the school gates. “Why should I explain my choices? It works for me. It works for my kids. It works for my family.” Ironically, I’ve had to explain my return to work after both kids on multiple occasions, a conversation my husband has never had to have, despite returning to work after paternity leave. Whatever we choose, we get judged for it. But lets remember, as long as we are making our choices freely, as long as it is open to the men AND the women (and anyone in between), and as long as nobody gets hurt, you can do what the feck you like. THAT’S feminism. Want to stay home and be with your kids? Do it. Can’t bear the baby stage and want to get back to the boardroom? Do it. Want to jack it all in and take the sprogs round the world like the amazing mums in my Insta feed? Do it!!
And you can still shave your legs, and wear high heels, and have the door held open for you. Just hold it open in return of course. Or – have hairy legs, wear flats… it’s YOUR choice, and nobody else's. This is what women threw themselves under horses for – the right to choose. Equality. It’s not complicated. You can stop reading now if you’ve taken that on board.
And don’t think you only get to be a feminist because you’ve got a vagina. My dad’s a feminist – I was raised to never doubt that I could achieve the same as my brother. My husband championed my return to work, supported the launch of this blog even though it takes me away from the kids on occasion, and ensures I get away from our two toddler sons whenever I feel frazzled (apparently hiding in the loo with Jilly Cooper doesn’t count). Why should I be the one at home if I don’t want to be? But he’d be just as supportive of me if I were to stay at home looking after the kids. AND he’d still wash his own gym kit. (Thanks babe).
So, to my amazing friends. Look out for a dictionary coming your way, with the F word highlighted. “The advocacy of women’s rights on the ground of the equality of the sexes”. See that last bit?? Equality. If you think we are equal, you are a feminist. Simple as that really. Use it. Love it. Own it.