A former X-Factor contestant was prevented by her (male) PR adviser from answering the question “Are you a feminisist?”
So The Gazette newspaper ran a feature and asked me to write a piece answering the question “What does feminism mean to you and can women really “have it all” with a career and a family?”
As the printed version cut out some of what I wrote, I though I’d give you both versions!
Feminism – it’s a loaded word! Somehow it’s gone from meaning an advocate of the rights and equality of women, to being short-hand for a stroppy woman moaning that life isn’t fair and that men are evil suppressors!
If you’d asked me when I was at university if I was a feminist, it would have been an unqualified yes. But now, it’s not so straightforward. I need to qualify my answer. I believe in egalitarianism
There are still so many inequalities – the glass ceiling is still there (we’re breaking through more often but it’s a tough slog), pay disparity has yet to be banished and women in the public eye are all too often reduced to the status of a “body.” I could go on…
But then men don’t have it all easy either. Stay at home dads are viewed with suspicion and body image issues are now more prevalent in men with a huge increase in the levels of male eating disorders.
The issue that women face is that we’ve been give the rights but not the full equality. Let’s face it, with the best will in world the responsibility of having a baby is a woman’s. Men just don’t have the correct tools for the job! And if we exclude those women who get back on their Blackberries before the placenta has been delivered, we do need to take some time off work. And that’s when we start to lose out. Out of sight and out of mind!
Having it all? No-one can. You might say men do, but do they really? Look at the parents at sports day or afternoon nativity. It’s predominately mothers. If men were having it all, they’d be there too.
If you want to have it all, you have to choose when you have it. Many women in The Business Womans Network have chosen to be self-employed so they can have a job that fits around their families in a way that “conventional” jobs don’t. When they are working, they work hard and they achieve great things. And when they are doing the family side of things, well they are pretty great at that too.
Feminist, yummy mummy, mumtrepreneur (one of my pet hates, but there’s not enough space to go into that here) call me what you want. At the end of the day, the label isn’t important.
Women are just as great as men and men are just as great as women. It’s just that we all have different skills, different talents and different roles. And until we accept, celebrate and nurture these amazing differences then we all lose out.