Today is International Women’s Day, and I thought it would be a good opportunity for me to reflect on what feminism means to me.
A few years ago, if you had asked me if I was a feminist, I would have laughed in your face and said ‘absolutely not’. I had fallen into the trap of thinking feminism meant women who hated anything remotely feminine and hated men – and that just ain’t me.
Now, I happily describe myself as a feminist. In fact, I would go as far as saying I am a pretty fierce feminist. I don’t hate men. I love pretty pink sparkly things, glitter, makeup and everything ‘girly’.
So what does feminism mean to me?
Quite simply, to me, it means that my daughter and I are afforded the same opportunities and the same respect that my husband and my boys are. It’s not about taking rights away from men or having more rights than them. It is about equality – putting us all on an equal footing.
It means my daughter being able to become a mechanic, an engineer, a plumber – whatever she wants to be – without someone laughing at her and questioning her skills simply because she’s female.
It means her getting paid the same as her male peers for doing the same job.
It means her being able to love football, drink beer, get tattooed, swear like a sailor and not be looked down on ‘because she’s a girl’.
It means her not being made to feel weak or having someone intimidate her because she’s female.
Giving her choices
It also means having choices open to her. There seems to be thinking that if you want to stay at home and raise children, wear makeup and high heels and short skirts and enjoy feminity you can’t possibly be a feminist.
Feminism means that we have that choice to make.
It’s not about being more than men, or having more rights than men. It’s also not about recognising that there are differences. Men, generally, are physically stronger than women. It’s about giving women a level playing field so they have the opportunity to achieve the same.
Women shouldn’t be going to work and earning less money than their male counterparts for doing exactly the same job.
Women shouldn’t be penalised for having periods, for being pregnant, for giving birth. It takes two to make a baby.
Women shouldn’t have to fight to make choices for their own bodies.
It’s about equality. It’s about respect.