Feminism is trendy (or should that be trending?) right now.
I’ve read so much these passed couple of weeks; from a misogynistic Viner getting a TV series commission (and getting axed) to the internet trolls that attacked the people who commented on his misogyny… the wonderful celebs wearing the “This is what a feminist looks like” tee to the evil celebs wearing the “This is what a feminist looks like” tee (because it was made by an under-paid woman in a sweatshop).
This sort of attention on feminism interests me now more than ever because of Audrey. I consider what sort of world she will grow up in and what the future holds for her as a woman.
Historically for me, feminism was a dirty word. I always pictured Germain Greer, with a burning bra on a pitchfork, talking about banning something as harmless as page 3. I certainly never thought I would consider myself a feminist. Around the age of 15 I discovered that if you stopped wearing long skirts and DMs and switched to miniskirts and knee-high boots, boys noticed you. I am ashamed to say I played dumb in Design Technology so a boy would assist me with and thought nothing of it at the time. I purchased a wonderbra and pitched myself very much on the “feminine” not “feminist” side of the fence.
For years I thought sexism was a dated concept and that hey, we are all equal these days, so why are women still banging on about it? My first real “brush” with sexism was in a job I took in the early noughties. The MD was proper old school (paper rollerdex, a secretary made all calls for him,he returned from long lunches stinking of booze, drove home… you get the picture). I was there for around a year when someone left and we were recruiting for our office manager. As the stack of applicants arrived, the pile diminished into those requiring the lowest salary, but more significantly, women only. I was soon informed that the first thing he did for any admin jobs or in fact, the job I had, was limit to women only. They also told me to look at myself and the other females working there – were we all not quite similar? Did he have a type? For the technical jobs, he did the opposite and considered men only.
One day an error (purposely guided by the MD) occurred and I heard him apologising on the phone to the client, blaming “the girls” and dismissing it as our sloppiness. There was never any funny business with this man, but over time it became clear that he regarded the woman working there as “silly girls” and certainly respected his male colleagues much more.
So I realised there were still a few sexist dinosaurs out there, but still didn’t feel the need to rise up with my sisters and declare myself a feminist…
My interest in feminism now comes from Audrey and how she will experience life as a girl. We want her to feel equal (and let’s put aside her other struggles with equality due to DS), confident and as important as any boy.
One thing Ted and I constantly despair at, is the clothing on offer for baby girls. We have no problem with pink in moderation, but we do not think she needs to be dressed in a way that constantly screams “I’m a girl!”. The main issue we have with girls’ clothing and toys (and how is this still happening in this day and age?), is the pinkification of things to appeal to girls. They make pink versions of Superman outfits, they do a pink version of the (usually so yucky brown!) Gruffalo, girls t-shirts are littered with kittens and bows and butterflies and glitter… boys get dinosaurs and monsters and bears (much cooler), most of which escape tacky embellishments.
I’m curious as to who is in charge of the importance of girlification? Has the beast been created because that’s what the majority of buying parents want? Or is there a conspiracy to keep girls girly, flood them with pink early and they’ll never want to take the decent jobs? They’ll all want to be popstars and wags?
One thing I do know, is that I want to ensure Audrey is exposed to choices on that front. Yes, I know that in a few years she will probably be choosing the ugliest, pinkest, glitter-covered princess outfit in the shop, but isn’t that more reason not to cover her in it now? Feminism should be about choices. Women now have the choices and the opportunities to be whatever they want to be…
Let’s not forget, Audrey was a pirate (on pirates and princesses day) and a bat (on Halloween):