Tuesday was International Womens Day. I’ve had a good old rant on this day, in this space for the last 5 or 6 years now, and although i’m a little late to write my post this year, I simply can’t let this day pass without marking it.
Should we still need international Womens day? Well, we have Chocolate Day and Pie Day so I reckon we can get away with it, what do you reckon?! Lets have a look, shall we?
The sheer unfairness against women is brought into sharp focus by seeing it though my daughters eyes. Through her eyes I see how ubiquitous sexism is; how unquestioning we are to witness such a breathtaking lack of fairness and common decency against half the population (If you’re also a person of colour or are gender queer? Far worse.) We chronically undervalue motherhood, women still earn less than men in the workplace, domestic duties are still overwhelmingly shouldered by women. Theprominence of women in the stats on rape, street harassment and domestic violence is horrifying. I could go on and on and on (breastfeeding, periods, the beauty industry, FGM etc) But the saddest thing about all of this bullshit is HOW NORMAL IT IS. How ingrained. How unquestioned.
There have been MASSIVE strides in Womens liberation- for which I will be forever and deeply grateful. I can own property in my name, have an education, access birth control and a safe abortion, keep all of the money I earn, vote, and I don't belong to a man. Woo! And the list goes oooonnnnn. Thank you, sisters past. But there is still so much to be done. I can’t campaign on these issues like I have in the past. I can however make a difference in my current‘circle of influence’- in my home, family, work and amongst my friends, and I have realised that this is at least as important, if not more important. Because ultimately feminism starts at home.
Balancing inequality at home.
Me and Dave desperately want Frankie to grow up without limitations on how she should look or what she should wear or do based on her gender. And seen as we are most of Frankie’s world at the moment, we are aware (sometimes crushingly) that how we love each other and ourselves, and how we navigate work, play and family will directly affect her view of men and women in the world. Obviously we fuck this up sometimes, and some of the toughest bits of our marriage have been related to working through these issues, but we continue to try. So, other than loving and honouring each other equally, here are some of the other ways we choose to balance things at home.
I love myself
I love myself and my natural body, lavishly. I celebrate what it can do and the creative way I can dress it. (Admittedly an ongoing project, but one that gets easier every day) I talk about the good ideas I’ve had and the amazing things I’ve done, in the same way that Dave (and now Frankie) does too.
We share childcare.
I do more at the moment which is based on our current abilities to earn money, but Dave does about a third. Dave earns more but we also want to protect his relationship with Frankie so he chooses to be around more- and we take a hit on our money as a result. Worth every penny.
We share money earning.
I hate that motherhood is so undervalued, and that when women choose to mother full time it can leave them financially vulnerable in the case of the father leaving. In the end, I couldn’t not write or create so motherhood didn’t end up being my full time gig but it’s true that when it was I felt vulnerable. This is a tricky one, and very personal to me and our circumstances, but ultimately, I feel more secure earning my own money.
We do the things that have traditionally been done by the opposite gender.
I do DIY, carry heavy stuff and take the bins out and Dave cleans and cooks and helps with childcare. Not always, it’s often a bit of a mash up of who’s around and has time, and at first it felt a little forced, but lots of this is now totally natural for us.
I acknowledge my privilege
As a white, straight, middle class woman, I am incredibly privaleged. Simply being aware of this is an enormous step- but only the first on a journey I am still discovering.
We call sexism out
I call sexism out amongst my friends and family, when I have the energy (a big one) and time to do so. This is perhaps the hardest, and most significant one on this list for me.
(mostly via social media and email!) at kids companies that hyper genderise their products and limit the aspirations of our children. I rage at shitty sexist headlines and products. I rage at lots of things, openly, and I celebrate the books, companies, products and articles that celebrate, and treat women fairly.
I acknowledge when I get it wrong.
Man, so much of this is a journey. I get things wrong all the time (I used to slut shame without really knowing what I was doing, I mess up in front of Frankie when I’m having a bad body image day, When I was much younger, it was normal for my friends and I to greet each other with “you look great- you’ve lost weight”— like that was the MOST IMPORTANT THING. wtf?!) but I keep reading, and listening, and viewing things through Frankie's eyes, and questioning stuff, and being kind to myself when I fuck it up, because it's one of the most important things I'll ever do, for me, and for Frankie.
How about you? Whats in your ‘circle of influence’ at the moment, and what are the issues that rile you the most? How do you share stuff in your family? Do you challenge gender inequality in your family/work/home?