Will The Real Feminist Please Stand Up! My Life As A Non Feminist.

I learned about feminism from my high school teachers at Altona Secondary School in the western suburbs of Melbourne. Feminism wasn’t something my mother and I discussed nor did we need to. She was a very capable woman whom life didn’t indulge her the pleasure of wondering if Prince Charming was going to come along and rescue her.

black princess

Being the oldest girl in our family, I didn’t have a big brother to defend me or protect me and my parents never made me feel like I was somewhat deficient in anyway because of being a girl. They never made me doubt my ability to care for myself and I never have.

Since my mother never taught me to use my feminine charm to get by in this world, I relied on the three skills that she taught me. Follow your intuition above all else even if sometimes it doesn’t make any sense, use your brains and creativity, and finally use sheer strength of will to get things done.

When it comes to dealing with men, I stare them straight in the eye and treat myself as an equal. I understand that we re not build the same or even think the same, or that some of them may even question my abilities. They do this to their own peril.

Growing up there was never any talk about my place in the world as a woman and how limited that might be or would be…Just the usual reminder to be weary of the occasional male who may choose to use his power to get into my pants. My mother was an honest woman.

And so it was news to me in the 90’s in high school when it was pointed out to me that there was inequality based on gender in this world and all my teachers male and female spent a lot of their lessons programming me to become a feminist. I was taught to focus on intellectual pursuits a university degree and what not. Somewhere in these lessons housework and the once traditional home duties were deemed evil. Yet in home economics they taught us how to bake, in sewing class, they taught us how to sew.

There was also pottery, metal work, and woodwork which I loved just as much as I like making stuffed animals.  All male and female students had to do these classes. There was a big push for girls to study science and mathematics then, I did both and I loved it. I was told that I was as smart as the boys in my class, personally I thought that I was smarter. I was told that I could do anything boys could do, I believed I could do better.

Arrogant you say? Not really…Just aware of my own abilities and most importantly my own desires. I wanted to get better grades than they did so I worked harder. I wanted to be physically strong so that no one could push me around male or female and I was.

It wasn’t until I got to university that I understood why my teachers had tried so hard to make me aware of sexual inequality. Being at the bottom of the perking order so to speak (black and female), my university life was a depressing one.

The fact that I was a woman and that some members of humanity thought me somewhat inferior became very clear to me. One of my lectures constantly made comments about my looks and the apparent wild life that he thought I lived. The other girls in my course were submissive, soft spoken, and didn’t understand the meaning of standing up for themselves.

Their mother’s had obviously loaded them with an overdose of feminine whims and ways to charm the pants off most men. They went through their days awkwardly smiling their way through situations they weren’t happy with while at the same time using their femininity to pacify the most aggressive brutes to get what they wanted.

I used to get a little jealous, watching them smile sweetly through situations that for me would have ended up in an argument. This was made worse by the fact that most of the boys on campus were scared of me.

Soon I learnt that this wasn’t such a bad thing and started using their fear of me against them. Rather than smiling sweetly and lowering my voice to get something, I would look them straight in the eye and say ‘I want that’, ‘fix this’, and so forth. It worked. I said very little, socialized even less and for the first time in my life I wanted to be invisible.

But I couldn’t. My skin colour made me stand out and so did a set of double F cups firmly planted on my chest. Another lesson my mother taught me was to be comfortable with my body. And so I was. I wasn’t shy about my hourglass figure and wore clothes that complemented them. The level of comfort I felt with my body, the sense of freedom and the lack of fear of having to hide the size of my butt or chest meant that I was a bit of a destruction. This didn’t bother me. I couldn’t have cared less. I just wished to God I didn’t live in a world that expected me to be any less of myself because I was female.

Most people might describe me as feminist. I don’t see myself as that. Where I come from their no such things as feminist and people are treated according to their own merits and these are the principles I was raised on. For me, a man’s job is one that requires more physical strength than a woman’s body is capable of doing that’s all. And these days most women can get around what is called ‘a man’s job’ through mechanical machines or paying for the labour.

It has nothing to do with mental strength, intellectual ability, creativity or anything else. As a small framed woman, I know that most men are going to be physically stronger than I am. They are not necessarily going to be better than I am.

I’m always angry when I read articles about a woman’s place in the home and the war and debate over those who go to work and those who stay at home. I think that this argument is so old and probably affects a lot less women than some feminist would like to admit.

In the area that I grew up in, the mothers didn’t have time to worry about whether they were wasting their education by staying at home and not pursuing a career. They had to work because their livelihoods and their families depended on it. They worked alone or together with their husbands or partners to make sure that they all had a roof over their heads.

The argument about stay at home mom’s vs working mom’s, shouldn’t even exist. The choices that women make around their lives, personal relationships,  should not be a matter for public debate. It’s a very personal one. Those of you who feel that life has to stop because you’ve got children and you want to stay at home and raise them, more power to you. And for those who’ve worked hard at developing your careers and you find it satisfying, should not yield to social pressure to stay at home and stop questioning whether you’re a good mother or not. Your kids are the best judge of that.

I don’t have children myself but I’ve found very little in the behavior of friends kids who stay at home and those who go out into the work force. Most stay at home mothers want a medal for raising their own children. They are your children you gave birth to them! Why should the rest of us have to treat you differently and put you on a peddle stool because you’re staying at home to look after them.

Feminist are also worried about the apparent disturbing trend of women turning their backs on board rooms to return to the kitchen and bake cakes. They are calling this ‘the retro mum’ movement. Another first world problem. Really…baking cakes  and cup cakes a threat to the working woman? Me thinks not.

There’s nothing wrong with baking cakes and those women who have chosen to throw their careers away and are sitting on their laurels thinking that this is life do so at your own peril. The world we live in and the times we live in demand that most of us have to be financially savvy and ready for anything that might or could happen. Don’t lets forget the 50% divorce rate or the financial crisis which could mean that even the bread winner of the family could suddenly lose their job. And then what?

Feminists fear not. The women living work to bake cup cakes and cakes are not affecting the rest of us, who’ve been brought up to cringe at the sight of a baking pans. The only way I’d give up my complete freedom and ambition and dedicate my life to rearing others would be if hell froze over… And my boyfriend knows that. I expect nothing less of myself than to have children and have a job, call me a bad mother and selfish if you like. I know I do have a selfish born in my body and it doesn’t bother me a bit. I call it self preservation.

I don’t feel comfortable with the word ‘feminist’. I think feminists should focus less on the so anti-feminist attitudes of modern women and look at ways in which women can be empowered to be themselves and rise above their limited social expectation. Forget boardrooms raising girls differently from boys can foster the feeling of inferiority.

The real battle is on the play ground. Mothers who tell their kids that they can’t do this because they are a girl or making statements such as that’s not lady like are digging their daughter’s strength into the ground. They wont make it into the board room if they think a discussion about asking for what they want is seen as being aggressive and contrary to the way their gender should behave.

What most of us women forget is that we make our own choices even if we’ve got limited options in life. We choose the partners and therefore the father of our children. We choose which men we want in our lives and which ones we don’t.

Parents if you want to make sure that your daughters grow up to be independent, strong, and self sufficient, lead by example!


1 Comment »

  1. cess said

    seriously, u have walked in my shoes and also live in my head.

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