Yaaay – I am delighted and thrilled to have the very lovely Claire, writer at Life, Love and Dirty Dishes and also host of the brilliantly funny Friday Frolics linky. Yes, I might be a little biased as I am co-host. When Claire sent this over, she added the words, “I’m not sure if it’s any good”. Well, she is clearly crazy! It is one of the best guest pieces we have had so far. A passionate piece of writing that sums up how I feel very eloquently. Over to Claire.
Half the Equation
I think I’ve only been a feminist since I became a mother.
That means for the first 30 years of my life, I wasn’t.
Why? Quite simply, I didn’t need to be. I believed that men and women were equal and I never felt that I had been treated differently because of my gender. Maybe I was lucky to have never experienced sexism. Maybe I was young and full of idealisms and thought I could conquer the world.
But I was wrong.
Today I feel the need to fight for women’s rights more than ever.
When I became a stay-at-home mum I was made to feel like I wasn’t contributing my worth to society by the language the government used. I was made to feel that I had been given a luxury, rather than making a choice that we have made many sacrifices for. In so many ways I felt like I was letting the side down, and single handedly setting back women’s rights by fifty years. Suddenly I was very aware of my gender and of not feeling equal any more.
And when I no longer felt equal I saw the need for feminism. I saw all the inequalities that we face as women and I wanted to change things.
How are we still fighting for equal pay in 2017? Why are women still blamed for rape because of the clothes they were wearing? Why do the shoes the Prime Minister wears make front page headlines rather than the speech she was giving? Why did people vote a ‘pussy grabbing’ sexist pig to be President?
In many ways we can’t win. As a woman if you stay at home with your children you have given up your career and in so many ways your right to an opinion. As a working mum you have to prove your commitment twice over to make up for the times the kids are sick or the class assembly, whilst society deems you as a ‘part time mum’.
Sometimes I feel powerless to change things. But then I see the future generation and I know that they are the key, and it is our responsibility to teach them. The messages we give them are so important.
I am a mum of boys. Two of them. Currently aged 7 and 3. They are my world. But I am outnumbered in a house full of Lego, cars and farting. My voice needs to be heard and it needs to be strong.
I have heard people say to my sons;
“Don’t scream like a girl”
“Big boys don’t cry.”
At such a young age they are hearing negative language about girls, and being fed this myth that being a man is all about being strong. They are being taught that girls and boys should behave differently.
I believe the differences in men and women should be celebrated. They are the reason for great comedy, great passion, great love. They are the reason for life. We are not the same and it would be pretty boring if we were. But we should all be treated with respect. Men and women. And gender shouldn’t be the reason that we can or can’t do something. Unless it’s having babies. Sorry guys, but you know, if you want to try giving that a go for a while and give us a break, we really don’t mind.
I watched this video “Like a girl” not long after the birth of my second son, and it scared me. It was being shared all over social media with the message that “like a girl” should not be an insult. It’s an important message. It’s one I see time and time again on my newsfeed. And I agree, daughters should be taught to do whatever they want to do. To reach for the moon. To never give up. That they are not weak or second best.
But it’s only half the equation.
All children should be given the confidence and self-esteem to achieve. But as a mum of boys I think it’s incredibly important that I teach my boys that girls can do anything boys can do. That we can like pink and sparkly things and still whoop their arses in a race.
It’s ok if you don’t like the same music, and you don’t understand why she loves shopping so much, as long as you know that she can hold her own in a board room and climb any mountain that you can.
I find myself getting angry when I see posts about teaching daughters they can do anything, because I think we should be teaching our sons that girls can do anything too.
If we want to change things for the future, we need to address what messages we send to the sons as well as the daughters.
Thank you Claire. I loved this post and I can understand where Claire is coming from when she says that she hasn’t always been a feminist. I definitely think that for so many women becoming a feminist is their tipping point into feminism. What do you think? As always we would love to hear your thoughts.
I’m Claire. I live with three men, two of which happen to be my children. I am addicted to chocolate, handbags and Gerard Butler. I blog about the amusing side of life with small people, although I am known to get a bit soppy too. My claim to fame is that I once spoke to Phillip Schofield on a Going Live phone in. I know, awesome.
You can find Claire at:
WE NEED YOU!
We are the real face of feminism. We are reclaiming it and redefining it. Yes, we might have children but we can still be a feminist. Us mothers want our voices to be heard too. We are part of the feminist movement. We want to be seen and heard! The Mother Feminist series is inviting all of you to share what feminism means to you:
- Do you like the term feminism?
- What does feminism mean to you?
- Do you call yourself a feminist?
- Has your outlook on feminism changed post-children?
I want to hear your opinions, ideals and feminist role-models. If you would like to get involved then please drop me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org