Why today’s feminism ain’t my bag

Why today’s feminism ain’t my bag

In this current climate political accord and social unity, I’m given pause for thought on this movement we call feminism– specifically what it stands for me as an unremarkable, middle-age, non do-it-all Fortune 500 CEO superwoman, stay-at-home mother of two (tragic). So here goes– sharpen your daggers ladies because I have come to one indisputable, (if controversial) revelation–  deep breath– I am not a feminist.

I appreciate I’m letting down the side here a bit. But before you dismiss me as some stiff n’ starchy Victorian dinosaur, hear me out. I’m certainly not poo-pooing women or our many and varied strengths, abilities and overall fabulousness- far from it. I just don’t feel the need to cleave to an ‘ism’ to know this. There’s something just a bit sinister about it all. They’re not so good, these isms. Let’s see, cronyism, nepotism, racism, sexism, ageism, fascism, communism. Am I missing any?  Ok, I’m cherry picking, but still, hardly makes for good company.

Here’s the deal; I grew up in a strict, hard working and decidedly middle-class, coupon-clipping, Applebee’s loving family from the perennial red state of Georgia (not the air kissing, property-obsessed, SUV-driving “middle-class” ensconced in London and Home Counties variety).  My parents drilled in me I could achieve anything through graft and determination, but nobody owed me anything. If I wanted something I didn’t get, my parents’ response was invariably ‘tough noogies, kid. LIFE IS NOT FAIR.’ I had to earn it. But never once did it occur to me I ought to feel aggrieved or hamstring by virtue of the fact I was born with a vagina.

Oh no, this came later, as a professional having earned my stripes in the City. Suddenly, despite my hardwork and outward success I learn all the while I had been hoodwinked. Let me count the ways. Suddenly I’m instructed to pay mind to things like the gender pay gap (nevermind I earned more than 99% of the rest of the country), sexism in the workplace, discrimination, maternity rights, flexible working conditions, glass ceilings; etc. etc. The list goes on. I only thought I was doing well. Ha! Shows you what I knew, in reality poor little me had been played a fool by the Masters of the Universe.  Quotas, affirmative action and special treatment, bla bla bla, can’t help but think hey undermine and insult rather than empower. Nobody will say it, but the only glass ceilings are the one’s we build ourselves. All that put-on resent and indignation is downright exhausting.

There. I said it.

Certainly we’ve come a long way in the last century, standing on the shoulders of giants who blazed their trail with such unbridled sense of purpose and belief in their cause that I can’t help but think so much of what it stands for today seems rather petty in comparison. Unfair? Let’s examine. Cast your mind’s eye back to Sheryl Sandberg’s (failed) campaign to BAN the word BOSSY. At first glimpse I genuinely thought I was watching a comedy sketch, never mind the irony of a handful of rich powerful women bossing us to ban the word bossy. Flew right over ya, did it Shezza? (Unfamiliar? You Tube it. Pure comedy gold.) Talk about your own-goals.  It’s lunacy; as though we’ve become so bereft of matters to that offend, we need to fabricate new ones, no matter how absurd. Spoon, meet bottom of the barrel.

Here’s a thought, perhaps we should throw such efforts to ban words into helping the truly oppressed. You know, say women who are not allowed to drive, work, show their face in public?? Hmmm?

First world problems, innit?

This movement we women and trendy hipster beta males (yes, I’m talking to you, Cumberbatch, Ewan, et al) embrace and rally around in the face of perceived sexism and inequality has devolved into something more strident, militant and cultish, one we join or—god forbid– reject at our peril.

Here’s the rub—I struggle subscribing to that bristling brand of headline-grabbing feminism to do with today’s ambassadors, a breed of women who speak loudly and carry big sticks but too often suffer chronic sense of humour failure. (Oh look! Another angry, pampered celebrity lecturing me on how the system is failing the sisterhood. Fearless. You go!) Yawn.


Ashley Judd is NASTY

What’s less palatable, we’ve sussed thanks to social media feigning cartoonish outrage at every slight and perceived offence is a fast track to celebrity. Charlotte Proudman’s (remember her?) charmless twitter rant was less about outing the poor schmuck who dared compliment her LinkedIn photo, but part of a broader agenda. Suddenly she’s everywhere– radio, television, rubbing shoulders with Nicole Kidman as a ‘woman of the world’, applauded as a person of significance and all a direct consequence of her puerile, bullying behaviour. Clever, calculating, but admirable? Jury’s out, counsellor. Why should such attention-seeking notoriety be something to which we aspire?

Here’s the irony— doesn’t all of this kinda, sorta, maybe a wee bit suggest as women we’re of a weaker constitution than men? So prickly, thin-skinned and uptight we need be handled with kid-gloves. What happened to rolling with the punches? Giving as good as we get, girls? Being offended isn’t good enough. It’s lazy, tired and predictable.

Detractors will argue I have the luxury of dismissing ‘the struggle’ as a direct consequence of the tireless work of the generations before me, not to mention my supportive upbringing, and they’d be right. But it still begs the question– what might the Pankhursts make of what has become of the movement they sparked so many years ago?

Thatcher had the right idea. Often criticized by her sex for not doing enough to promote the cause of women, I counter she walked the walk without need to talk the talk. Hers was not to advance a gender, but rather a nation. She was a leader who happened to be a woman, a pioneer who dared not be a pioneer, and to suggest otherwise was anathema to her. She never had to ride the coattails of feminism in order to achieve the highest office of the land; she did so on her own merit without making a song and dance about it. Kinda brilliant. Theresa May takes her baton and runs with it, without whiff of apology asserting “the biggest statement that will be made about the role of women is the fact that I will be there as a female Prime Minister, Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, directly talking to (President Trump) about the interests that we share.” Actions versus words, me dears.

Why, of course.

Maybe now’s time to admit I even took my husband’s name without remorse, nor fear I had relinquished my soul. (Although the legal and logistical hassle of it all is truly enough to put anyone off. Husbands– be grateful.) Bravo, Amal. Go your own way and ignore the haters.

And lastly, why should we deny certain strengths and weaknesses between the sexes in the name of equality and above all, fairness. I get the pitfalls and dangers of gender stereotyping, nonetheless they do snowball from a grain a truth; they’re not plucked out of thin air. Let’s face it, WE ARE DIFFERENT. Men are by and large better at certain things—bleeding radiators, Karchering, reverse parking, (exception being the Man, who’s dented the family truckster so many times we have a loyalty card with our body shop. No, really).  Likewise there are things we women excel at versus men. We are more nurturing, dammit! Not to mention amazing multi-taskers and able to neatly fold a fitted sheet without falling into a fit of frustration. (Yes, yes, this and many, MANY other things, calm down.) Remind me again why this is a bad thing? These are not limitations, but attributes.

Speaks volumes I had to think twice before even writing this. But then, who’s reading this far down anyway?

So are we still fighting the good fight? I’m not so sure anymore. We’re told we can do it all and have it all, but brow-beaten if we don’t want it. Yes, with hard work we can do anything and be anything we put our minds to; of course we can, but shouldn’t be gifted anything because of our sex– women OR men, girls OR boys. (As a mother of two boys, I have to inject this.) But we conveniently ignore for every decision we make in our lives—career, marriage, children, etc., men or women, there is an opportunity cost. This modern brand of feminism ignores the basic laws of economics and instead has given us an entitlement complex. But life has, and always will be about compromise and choice. After all, nobody can have it all. It’s greedy!









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