Are you a feminist?

When I was growing up Margaret Thatcher was Prime Minister (she was in power from 1979 to 1990). I started secondary school in 1979 and finished college in 1989, so all through my formative, educational years we had a female Prime Minister.

Margaret Thatcher 1983

When I was at college my teachers (male and female) were ardent feminists, they could not see beyond their subjectivity. I re-wrote one essay three times because I would not say that I thought the male protagonist we were reviewing was demonstrating rapist tendencies. I evidenced the argument I was making well and even now over 20 years later stand by my views on this essay. I was told I would fail my year if I did not re-write it with the 'correct' perspective. I eventually re-wrote it to a pass grade, but it influenced my view of feminism.

Germaine Greer, author of the Female Eunuch
Prior to college I would have said I was a feminist readily, I read The Female Eunuch and believed in myself and my abilities.

Throughout college, the feminists chipped at my confidence and my beliefs. I was to hate men if I was to be a true feminist. I like men, always have, always will. I generally prefer their company, I don't want to sit and share my emotional nonsense, I like to keep it nicely repressed, thank you very much.

Don't get me wrong, I have many long and successful friendships with women as well.

Back to feminism, so what is feminism now - The Cambridge dictionary describes it as 'Feminism is a collection of movements and ideologies aimed at defining, establishing, and defending equal political, economic, cultural, and social rights for women'

I expect to be treated the same as a man at work, and get paid the same, but I still want people (male or female) to open doors for me, as I would for them. I still want my husband to do the heavy lifting, the facts are, he is stronger than me, therefore he can. I still want to wear make up and wear clothes that make me feel sexy, or confident or smart or whatever. However, I also think it is OK for men to wear make up, if they want, and yet in my average working day, I rarely see this, but when you do, boy oh boy, does the gossip start. That's not treating someone very equally is it?

But; and here is the nub of it, I feel strongly that women should have the choice and freedom to do whatever they want to do, whether that be terminating a pregnancy, or acting in pornographic films, for example. As long as it is their choice to do it, then I am fine with it. People will argue that women are made to feel it is their choice to get involved in pornography but actually it is the manipulative nature of men that takes away women's choice. Or it is because the women have a drug problem and are making these films to earn money to pay for their drugs - their drugs have taken away their choice.

For me, these are excuses, in some/many cases women get involved in porn because they want to, it is their choice. I find it insulting for people to say that men have manipulated them - are we (women) so stupid that if a man tells us to do something we just do it. I don't think the majority of women would. Similarly, we all have a choice when it comes to drugs, a pivotal moment when we have our first cigarette, our first drink, our first hit of heroin. What influences this choice? Our upbringing, our home life, our psychological make up....yes all of these.

So the battle for women, isn't about porn, drugs or manipulation, it is about instilling confidence. Can we give our daughters the confidence and skills (and street smarts) to say no sometimes, sometimes it is OK to say no. The battle is teaching our children not to acquiesce, not to be complacent, to get the next generation to stand strong.

So am I a feminist. Yes, I am, but I won't treat others (men) with inequality just because they are men.

My Mum thought Margaret Thatcher was brilliant. (Me less so). The feminists felt she put the movement back 20 years. Regardless, she was our first female Prime Minister, that's a big deal and it is a tough job. So, although I disagreed with her politics I am impressed that she did what she did. She had a family, a job and a husband and was successful. She must have made a lot of tough choices, I respect that.

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