Saturday, March 08, 2014

I'm the woman I swore I'd never be

Growing up with an arty, Guardian-reading*, feminist mother, there were two things I spent my formative years swearing I'd never be: An artist or a feminist. *(I always did like The Guardian)

For no real reason other than some sort half-hearted protest or teenage rebellion. I thought I'd wind 'Mother Dear' up and declare 'feminism was stupid', 'art was boring' and endlessly argue the pros of The Sun printing Page 3.

As daughters, our mothers inevitability have an impact on the women we grow up to be. They must find a way to chip away at our contrary teenage minds. They must plant seeds which blossom when we water them and spend time in the sun on our own. 

I guess, if I'm honest, at 14 I had no idea what being a woman, let alone a feminist, meant. My mum came out when I was a teenager and I'm pretty sure I mixed up being a lesbian 'man hater' with celebrating the fact I was a woman. What a fool. 

We all live and learn in our own unique way, picking up on issues, understanding and forming opinions as we grow. Each person we meet and every experience shapes us a little more into who we 'are' and what we believe in. I get that now. 

I was adamant I was EXACTLY the same as the boys in my class, naively protesting that I'd have the same chances, opportunities, pay, respect and worth as them. I think it was in a bid to cover up my lack of understanding of what it was I stood for (and so the said boys liked me!)

I can pick out key memories that have made me the woman I am today. Not all were the easiest times to live through, but they've certainly increased my understanding of the world around me now. I never thought I'd say I was glad they happened, but I am. 

I've been fortunate to have met some incredibly passionate and strong women, to have been taught by inspiring ladies and to have worked with talented and tough females. On the flip side, I've dealt with backstabbers, bitches and my fair share of nasty women too, but each has helped shape who I am today.

Although, for some reason it's taken me a long time to admit I love a good heroine, that I'm thankful the suffragettes fought for my vote. That women coming together to change the world gives me goosebumps. I'm also glad the Spice Girls carved out Girl Power in the 90s and that Buffy was more kick-ass then Bella Swan. I love listening to BBC Women's Hour, reading work of fellow female journalists, meeting inspiring women and hearing even the youngest of girls stand up for what they believe in.

But, I still see a lack of female 'front benchers' in Parliament, I work in newsrooms still dominated by men, I talk to women and girls who've been abused, physically and mentally. I visit companies, councils and courtrooms with an visible lack of women in high-flying roles. I read about rape, FGM, oppression and everyday sexism still happens, well, everyday. 

We must remember, our mothers did have fewer opportunities than us, but my god, if we want equality for our daughters, the fight is still on. We need to rise and speak up for those who still can't. We need to work out what being a woman means to us and we need to believe, inspire and continue to mark International Women's Day until the paragraph before this one is history. 

I guess what I'm trying to say is, today I'll swallow my teenage stubbornness and admit that I might not be an artist but I've sort of developed into my own kind of feminist.

1 comment:

Suzie Clements said...

Thanks for your strength and honesty !