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Who is a feminist....and why?

(31 Posts)
Oxon70 Sun 03-Jul-11 16:34:59

Seems one or two want to discuss - so....

My ex-husband, when we were divorcing, actually said to me 'Next time I will find a doormat.'
I barely believe this to this day.
Well, he thought he had, and - she divorced him too.
It was my going to women's meetings in Dundee that opened my eyes to him.
How did I stay married for 12 yerars?

baggythecrust! Sun 03-Jul-11 17:15:21

My husband used to claim to hate feminism but he hasn't said so again since, during a discussion with our daughter (age ten) about the subject in which all three of us took part, I said that in fact he's a feminist himself and his anti-feminist stand is just noise. My reasoning is that I wouldn't marry a man who didn't really believe in equality between the sexes where relevant. I've underlined that so that some Silly doesn't come back with the biological differences which are just thrown into discussions like this to distract from what's important. What DH actually hates is the same stuff I hate where women are deliberately obnoxious about men in general. When it comes down to respecting women's right he's right there with us, in particular recognising that if you want to improve conditions (eradicate poverty, for instance) in any society one of the best ways to go about starting the process is to educate women.

absentgrana Mon 04-Jul-11 15:47:48

Surely most of our generation of women are feminists – not the man-hating, bra-burning harpies of the media but women who have often been well educated, work hard whether well educated or not, and feel it is only right that they should be treated as men's equals. Sadly, how many times when you write a sentence like that do you have to say that men and women are equal, not, in all aspects, the same.

sussexpoet Mon 04-Jul-11 18:34:38

I'm a feminist, have been since my 30s, like many others of our generation. The bra-burners only existed in the pages of the media, this widespread fiction blurred the picture of genuine political and social issues. Unfortunately, although we've come a long way, there is still a long way to go and our present government seems to be actively working against women. Women and children will suffer most from the cuts. The Tories say "we're all in this together," but the (mostly) men who run the country have never had to worry about paying a bill in their lives. They're just not on the same planet. Oh, somebody stop me before I start jumping up and down!
Right on, sisters.

Annobel Mon 04-Jul-11 19:35:14

Jumping up and down with you sussexpoet. My ex-husband claimed to be a feminist - until feminism reared its head (or my head) in his own home!

Joan Tue 05-Jul-11 02:18:24

I agree with Ansentgrana that women are equal, not, in all aspects, the same. This was illustrated when I was a raw materials purchasing officer for a large industrial concern. It had been a man's job for ever, but somehow I got the job and approached it all from a different angle, but did much better than the man who preceded me. One simple example: I never pretended knowledge I didn't have, and when a rep wanted to sell me some new plastic moulding compound at a very reasonable price, he started telling me the technical stuff. I stopped him, and sent for someone in R&D. They knew straight away that the stuff was probably suitable, but the previous purchasing officer would never have admitted he didn't understand the technical stuff, even though it was not part of his job. He would have made a purchasing decision 'blind' rather than admit no technical knowledge.

My husband is a feminist - always has been. He reckons life is much easier when everything - the good and the bad - is shared. He was brought up by his grandparents and his Gran ruled the roost, which probably helped. It was the same when I grew up - Mum ruled.

JessM Tue 05-Jul-11 07:08:36

Because women do more than half the work in the world but men get more than half the money.
Because men still, overwhelmingly, control politics and business
Because men, not women, commit the vast majority of crimes
Because men don't yet, in the main, recognise that they have a problem with masculinity
Because the vast majority of inter-gender violence is in one direction
Because thirteen year old girls feel under pressure to have sex with their boyfriends
Because thirteen year old boys feel that they have to carry knives
Because the pornography industry carries on growing and influencing "everyday life" - newspapers, pop videos, personal grooming, fashion etc
Because women in the third world don't have access to midwives
Because women have their genitals mutilated
Because looking after children is considered un-important work
Because they have grey-haired men reading the news but the women are young and beautiful
Because women tolerate all of the above

Joan Tue 05-Jul-11 10:28:14

Well, that says it all, Jess! Can't fault any of it.

baggythecrust! Tue 05-Jul-11 11:18:52

Three cheers, Jess! (at least three!!!!)

janthea Tue 05-Jul-11 11:36:23

Well said, JessM grin

glassortwo Tue 05-Jul-11 11:44:39

jess well said!

HildaW Tue 05-Jul-11 14:05:27

Oh dear.......weve still got such a long way to go havn't we?.....reading Jess's list is very sobering.

What is the next step then? I worry that the current trend towards trying be more 'blokish' is not actually going to do any good in the long run, might even be doing some harm. Young girls should be able to rejoice in being female, its a wonderful thing to be. They should not feel they have to be like a man to achieve what they want in life. Needless to say men should not feel they have to deny they can be gentle and loving partners and parents. But I do feel that there are differences but they should be enjoyed and celebrated not seen as a reason anyone can or cannot do something.

JessM Tue 05-Jul-11 17:08:32

Actually writing that list made me feel like a complete slacker.
How to channel this other than living your life and maybe taking on roles that women previously did not hold...
I wonder if Thatcher has a lot to answer for and that the oomph went out of the feminist movement when she came to power. Any thoughts?

borstalgran Tue 05-Jul-11 17:39:54

We have to be until women get equal opportunity/access and salaries/wages. Seems that things are going backwards: daughter made redundant on day she went on maternity leave, as were others who were on such leave. All the pink stuff/princess tat is hardly preparing our grandaughters to take their place in the world.
However, men need to do their bit. Male bosses need to give men a break when they have little ones: that doesn't happen, further driving women into the kitchen. Recent government cuts have made it harder for women: they have lost proportionately more.
Public sector has far greater equality than the private, because it is unionised and has equal pay, though maybe not opportunity.
Feminist might be a dirty word, but it's a dirty word because it's still needed.
If you have power, you will keep it for as long as possible and belittle any attempt to get you to share it!

Oxon70 Tue 05-Jul-11 23:21:02

Female - and how different we can be. The Queen Mother, young Milly Dowler and Martina Navratilova, Mary Seacole - and 'Big Rachel' - I discovered her this week, a 19C 6'3" pipe-smoking Glaswegian, who was roped in as a special constable to help quell city riots...not all Victorian women were prone to the vapours.

Has anyone else seen film of the first women's march in London (or even was on it?) where they were singing 'Stay young and beautiful - if you want to be loved'. I can't find what I want to say about many of us grew up being stuck with this idea?
Or this one - needing a man to feel real, or whole?
Trying to be what you're supposed to be? My grandmother wrote to her intended 'I will be a good wife to you, Andrew.' She was a lovely person, but that was in the year 1900......I guess things have changed a little!
Trying to be nice to everyone? Be nice, don't make waves, etc etc. Grin and bear it. Think of England (!) Grr.

And about the word 'feminism' - how about the women who say 'I'm not a feminist - but.........' ?

sussexpoet Wed 06-Jul-11 18:38:42

small comment, JessM - not all women tolerate all of the above.

JessM Wed 06-Jul-11 18:44:15

Sorry Sussexpoet, not quite getting your drift. Tolerate what?

Charlotta Thu 07-Jul-11 11:08:43

A good start would be if in a marriage if the costs of the house, food, clothes, travel etc be added up and deducted and what is left be SHARED between hubsand and wife. We have done this even if there was only tuppence left we shared it.
Then the woman should have her say in what she does in her leisure time. I have taught women at nightschool and when we discussed an evening out, we had a problem because some of the women had to ask hubby first. Probably he didn't want her to go out and enjoy herself in women's company, but she could go to choir practice or the fitness club.
I am a feminist- you see I don't call women 'girls' and it starts in the home and how we bring our daughters up.
I can't speak for the younger generation but drinking yourself silly and lying in the street in your own vomit is not what feminism as a movement is about.

GtGran Thu 07-Jul-11 14:11:07

I am a feminist proud to be and have done my stint through out the phases. I am appalled when I hear young professional women state "Feminism is a dirty word" or "Greenham whats that"
Ok Im pretty hardcore but it was the hardcore like me who fought for your rights.
Dependancy on a man/boy does not help male female or children.
If women are educated and responsible their male children will be.
The big problem today is that we fought the struggle but many many women then embraced the personal but didnt understand or ignored the political.
I was never about marginalisation of men and nor should feminism be but the sisterhood needs to be realistic not merely a stepping stone to sliding that glass ceiling across against other women or man and it often is.

absentgrana Sun 10-Jul-11 11:19:44

Charlotta Pretty much everything starts in the home, but ends up in all sorts of places. How mothers bring up their sons is just as, possibly more important than how they raise their daughters. I agree that feminism is nothing to do with getting drunk and still can't work out why pole dancing is described by some as empowering.

Charlotta Sun 10-Jul-11 16:13:45

absentgrana, I suppose you would have to do it to answer that one.

I became a feminist after I'd read Maryilyn French 'The Women's Room.' that book knocked me out and I never looked back. Of course its dated now but a lot of what she propagated actually came true; that women became doctors instead of nurses who wanted to marry a doctor. That sports teams are not either the men and the girls but women and men. We have at the moment the Women's Football WM- In the 80s that would have been the Girls WM.
Then too many women took over who made men into enemies, so that those who actually loved and respected their male partners felt left out of the movement.
I agree wholeheartedly with GtGran, and if she is a greatgrandmother then she is my generation and we were the ones who fought for it.

absentgrana Mon 11-Jul-11 11:24:59

I would guess that many of us are of the age that carried forward the feminist flag in the 1960s and 1970s, but there can be few survivors of the original Pankhurst and Fawcett followers – and even they weren't the first. I hope there's another generation – especially those now raising children – taking up the standard.

Joan Tue 12-Jul-11 14:31:19

Just remembered a feminism fight from the 1960s, that never happened in the end. I'd got a boring clerical job at an engineering firm, while I was deciding where to go with my life. A lad came up to me to ask me to join the union, expecting me to refuse. I said "of course I'll join - I've just discovered I get less pay than a man gets doing the same job, so I want the union to fight for my equal rights." Well, he nearly had a fit, and muttered about not wanting that sort of talk, so I told him I'd get on to the union executive about his attitude!

When I got home that night there was a letter for me from Austria, where I'd previously been an au pair girl, offering me a translating job, so I decided to take it. While working my notice I found at least half the other women there were AGAINST equal pay. I had a few ding dongs with them, trying to explain about human rights, but the most vocal against equal pay was the lass who was knocking off the married boss.

I sometimes wonder what would have happened if I'd stayed? Would I have won over the other women? Would the union have supported me? Would I have been in any danger? I'll never know.

Charlotta Tue 12-Jul-11 20:25:43

Joan, I think it is a shame you left.

Joan Wed 13-Jul-11 15:02:08

I might have stayed and fought, except I couldn't get my mind round women agreeing with reduced pay. I felt bad working with them after that - they were the Uncle Toms, or Auntie Thomasinas of the women's movement.