I am a woman. I am in my mid-thirties. I'm married. I'm a mother. I'm a Christian.
I'm also a Feminist.
Or am i?
A month ago my answer would have been a resounding 'Yes!' Of course I'm a Feminist. I believe in equality don't i? I believe that I'm just as good and able and capable as a man don't i? I believe I shouldn't be oppressed just because I'm a woman; that I should have equal rights, be it pay or opportunity or whatever.
Curious by nature and believing absolutely that knowledge is power (and having a daughter who is now old enough to ask very searching questions) I've taken some time lately to really explore this issue like I've never bothered to before. I've read, I've discussed and I've asked questions. In fact, I've started to question everything. The result has been unexpected and shocking. Not since the night I became a Christian have I experienced such a seismic shift in my own perspective and world view.
The key, over-riding conclusion I have come to is this:
I'm not actually a Feminist. I'm not even close. In fact, I have betrayed my sex and myself on many, many occasions. How could this have happened? When did I not adhere to my own set of principles? When did I not live out the things I believe in? Why can I not stand up and call myself a Feminist?
Here's a few reasons why:
When I've gossiped about other women and privately labelled them as being 'slutty,' because of the length of their skirt or the amount of make-up they wear.
When, as a younger woman, I felt flattered to be whistled at by a gang of workmen...and slightly disappointed when they ignored me.
When I secretly resented another woman for being thinner and more beautiful than myself...or when I felt superior because I was the one who was considered more attractive.
When I told my boss I was pregnant in an apologetic tone.
When I scheduled my ante-natal appointments after work in an attempt to be thought better of by my boss and work colleagues (Ultimately, I wasn't.)
When I jokingly told my husband to stop acting like a 'girl' when a spider fell on him in the shower.
When I've allowed a car mechanic/ gas fitter/ washing machine repair man/ etc, to talk over my head to address my husband (who is clueless about such things by the way) rather than speaking directly to me.
When I've labelled a woman as foolish for marrying a man who is a known cheat...she should know better, after all.
When men have stared freely at my breasts and I've been too embarrassed to reproach them.
When I've apologised for being 'just a mum' and have denigrated my position in my family because my work isn't paid work.
When I've subconsciously judged other women for how they look.
When I've consciously judged other women for how they look.
When I have consistently reduced myself to being just a face and a body and have pointlessly chased a standard of exterior feminine perfection, largely defined and found desirous by men.
When I've mutely submitted to being groped.
When I've sat idly by for thirty-five years and not done one single thing of any substance or real meaning to further the Feminist cause, whilst at the same time blithely enjoying the benefits available to me thanks to the hard work and toil of thousands of Sisters who came down this road ahead of me.
For all these reasons, and perhaps many more, I struggle to call myself a Feminist and keep a straight face.
Some of these examples are indicative of larger flaws in my character, and trust me: God and I are working on it. But these examples show more than my fallibility as a woman and a human being; they show how ill-equipped I am and society still is to embrace true equality as a concept, never mind as a reality. Sadly, I'm still very much enslaved to this patriarchal society that we all inhabit. The blindfold may have been removed, but the shackles still remain very much in place. I feel anything but free.
So I'm not a Feminist.
But I'm bloody well going to be.