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Tuesday, 3 January 2012

The Feminist Movement

Now this is one of my favourite subjects! One that has caused much debate, can spark arguements and has caused strike action for the demand of equal rights! It's a disussion that I love to air with friends, male or female, and it is something that will always be very important to me.
I think that the stand our Mothers and Grandmothers took on the original issue plays a part in how we look at it ourselves. I wrote a history paper on the Suffragettes fighting for a womans right to vote when I was eleven, and my primary school teacher said she really enjoyed reading it, it made her feel she was right there, living the experience. It is a shame I no longer have this paper, but I remember writing it, and feeling very passionate about my work. I wrote about women marching and chaining themselves to the government railings to prove thier point and be heard, and I remember enjoying this project very much. It sparked my interest in The Feminst Movement that occured in the Sixties and it was the start of me hunting down research, reading stories and watching movies that were based on this. I look around my flat now, and I can see that my life choices and entertainment means are based on women who are strong and self sufficient.

There will always be lots of talk about what women did and fought for to enable us to have the rights we do these days. Not all that long ago it was always the norm for men to to go work, do all the driving, to be the main breadwinner, and to be the protecter whilst the women stayed at home being the housewife. Men were the superior sex who could go to university if they opted to, whilst women had no such choice. They had the worry of learning how to cook, getting dinner on the table on time, keeping house and raising the children, all whilst looking presentable and smiling like they were on a permanent toothpaste add. Men ruled the household, made all the major decisions, and most of the time women were expected just to obey.
But thankfully, women started fighting back, demanding the right to vote, to be given equal pay, and to be treated with respect. As it says in 'Sisters Are Doing It For Themselves' by Annie Lennox and Aretha Franklin, women started stepping out of the kitchen and ringing their own bells, and it wasn't a moment too soon in coming either!
 I will always feel unspeakably proud of the women who decided they would take action, and its thanks to them that we have the rights we do these days! We still have a long way to go though, as it is still commonplace to hear about domestic violence, rape and discrimination in the work place, so our fight will always continue. We need to open those 'closed doors' that can be spoken about in these cases and take the stigma of shame away from those who have suffered.

The Feminist Movement has changed somewhat in the twenty first century though, and I think this is a good thing, but it's sad to see that a few people view the word 'Feminist' in a negative way, picturing GI Janes who hate men. This is not how I view the whole thing at all, on the contrary I see it as a very positive movement. Nowadays it is based on the right to choose and having equality whilst still being a woman. Being a Feminist does not mean not shaving your armpits or legs to prove a point, nor does it mean throwing your make up bag away. It is not mandatory to be butch to be a feminist, you can still be feminine whilst holding onto your beliefs. Let's be fair, bra burning would be a costly hobby if the negative attitudes were to be believed and it would be even worse if Primark didn't stock your size (as is the case with me).
It is good to see that wearing heels and flattering clothes is a choice that can be made purely for yourself, rather than a way to lure a husband and breadwinner, and making an effort with your appearance is for your own self esteem and benefit. Women with children now have the choice to return to work if they so wish, or they can stay at home and raise their baby if that is what they want and can afford. I think these choices and beliefs are liberating and it is good to see that it is the norm now rather than a distant dream. Our feminist foremothers fought hard for this, and although the outside appearance may have changed somewhat, the sentiment and belief is still the same.

But even today this subject can create interesting discussions. A lot of my younger counterparts think Feminism is dead now, due to it not affecting them and thier choices. The older generations can appear either side of the fence depending on how they felt when it all originally kicked off, and us born on the cusp of it all can sometimes feel torn by the old and the new. We can see the older generation sticking to 'the good old ways' whilst the younger go through life like a blazing cannon.
I have had many things said to me about being a "good girl" by numerous people from the more mature of age, at various work places etc, and it has always been expected of many a woman to "get on with it" "carry on regardless" and "not air the dirty laundry"  People of my generation, and there abouts, can get very confused, and exausted by it all!
I will give you an example of  the difference in attitudes, the other day a colleague and I were talking about a heavy bag of sand that needed moving, she said "Where is a man when you need one?". And my response to this? Well, I dont make a habit of swearing in front of the little ones, but it is a miracle that 'my little chops' (as I shall call him) did not add the word "Bollocks" to his vast growing vocabulary! I then picked up the bag of sand, moved it to where it needed to go, and washed my mouth out with soap. Luckily there have been no more bags of sand since, which means I have not had to watch, or wash my mouth! I will try to be more careful in future, not because I want to come across more ladylike, demure and charming, oh no! I am happy as I am thankyou very much. I will just instead be aware that tiny ears may just be listening! But I hope this proves that when it comes to being a feminist, I hold my flag high (and yes I have shaved!) I have no shame in voicing my beliefs, and I sincerely hope that there are many others who agree with me, male and female. Because lets be honest here, Its all about equal rights across the board, and surely thats a good thing?

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