17. The F Word. Feminism?
A while ago I wrote this:
“… Sophie Raworth interviewed Facebook’s Sheryl Sandberg on Andrew Marr this morning. Sandberg articulated familiar points and mentioned equality, quotas and the eternal question: can we have it all?
Sandberg also made the point that I have found myself making a lot recently; I didn’t consider myself a feminist, as she says many women of our generation thought it was somehow unnecessary. Yet, having worked for a few years, and having seen women fall away professionally, and struggle privately, it is apparent that the debate is still absolutely necessary. Especially when you hear the extraordinary coverage on Merkel, Kolmsee and ‘Raven mothers’ in Germany. Anyway, I love hearing more articulate, experienced men and women out there talking about this; it’s good to see the term ‘feminism’ remerging in industry, academia, and popular culture in a healthy way.
Interview starts 23mins into the programme.”
And now, some months later, I have a whole bunch of other things I want to think, and maybe even to write about. I finished Caitlin Moran’s ‘How To Be A Woman’ this morning. I also ‘dumped’ a man who I’d never met but had ‘known’ online for nearly a month. And I had a little rant to a friend about the fact that I want to read more by single women in their mid thirties, who don’t have kids (the career-focused, husband stealing stereotype stinks). At which point I found myself wrestling with another round of a thousand questions. Not least, is life now lived online?! And my personal favourite, what the heck is the world coming to? Oh, and what the heck is the point? Which took me to… American philosopher John Dewey’s “Education is not a preparation for life; education is life itself.” See it’s a jumble. Which is why I am here again, I’ve been away too long.
So, coming back to the F-word… am I a feminist? What is a feminist? What is feminism? What is a female? Why all the chat, all the reflection? Why not ‘do’ more; talk less. What is a ‘Woman’ anyway? How does a person BE A Woman? How does it differ from BEing A Human?
Having spent eons trying to become the ‘best’ kind of woman I can be… as judged by whom I daren’t get drawn into thinking about (society, men, other women, family, friends, me, the media, all of the above, what-ev-errrr… ) I agree entirely with many of the sentiments in Moran’s amusing (laugh-out-loud) and insightful book. Go read it! And her writing for the Times.
In the interim (the Sandberg interview was broadcast in the spring/summer, I read the book in late Dec/ early Jan) I had been wondering again about all that energy we spend trying to BE, to figure out the what’s and how’s in order to BEcome incredible, amazing, super women princesses.. and each time I have come to the same conclusion as Ms. Moran, Caitlin, (and at around the same time in our lives, both in our 30’s, in the 21st century, in England – so surely we should be on first name terms); it’s not about working out how to BE. It’s about the action, it’s about the DOing.
Of course it bloody is. We become the women that we become through the doing of things. Not fanny-ing around discussing, designing, deciding what we want to be, what we think we SHOULD be in relation to the men (and women) and everything else around us but by actually doing the things we want and need to do. It is tempting to just say let’s not linger thinking about how to be a muse, or girlfriend, or high flying career ‘type’ or even a mother any more, let’s get on with it, OK? That’s not what IT is about, is it? Life I mean. It’s surely all about getting off our hairy human a*ses and doing stuff. DOing not thinking about BEing.
After a couple of thousand years of patriarchy perhaps it’s hardly surprising we’re in this pickle.
That’s enough for now. It’s late, well, technically it’s early. Anyhow, I will deliberate, cogitate, digest and return with less rambling rambles, and more considered considerations soon. In the meantime feel free to comment, ask, or simply go off and do your own thing.
Happy New Year people!