Since curious eyes gazed upon provocative works such as ‘A vindication of the rights of women’ by Mary Wollstonecraft what it meant to be a woman began to change. Throughout history many brave and courageous women risked it all to fight for what they were entitled to: equality. Without yesterdays heroines I would not be the woman I am today. My bones, etched with their tiny, printed names and my soul woven with the fibres of their very essence. Amelia Bloomer, Betty Friedan, Alice Paul, Simone De Beauvoir, Gloria Steinem each name engraved on me somewhere. These women fought for our equality and dignity but now, I fear we have lost sight of that goal. The word ‘feminism’ has been tainted with a negative brush. You see, I thought feminism was about the sisterhood, allowing, encouraging and arming women to do whatever they want and be whatever they want. That is what we are teaching our daughters, isn’t it? As a gender we are telling young women they can be anything. Anything, as long as it fits in with the unscripted feminist ideals of 2017. If you are a woman who is pro-life you are punished by your own gender. Pro-life must surely mean you don’t want women to have the freedom of choice over their own bodies? If you are a woman who desires nothing more than to have children and spend your days baking cookies and finger-painting, you are told you simply are not a feminist. You are an enemy to women everywhere. Feminists should have ambition, want a long, thriving career, children are not a goal. In order to be a real, respected woman in 2017 I have to fit many ideals. I have to love Lena Dunham, I have to be fine with sexually promiscuous behaviour, I have to wear my ‘repeal the eighth’ t-shirt loud and proud, I have to fight for the right to use forms of contraception I am not totally on board with, I have to be a Hilary supporter, I have laugh at every Amy Schumer anecdote and I can’t really talk about how I am an emotional wreck when I’m on my period. COS THAT JUST AIN’T FEMINIST.
It’s funny, I was under the impression feminism was about the freedom to choose whatever I wanted, be whoever I wanted, yet it seems feminism is a new type of limitation these days. I no longer feel under pressure to be what a man expects of me, now I feel under pressure to be what other women expect of me.
So, while all of you are focused on wanting to exclude and punish the women who don’t fit your narrow ideals I’m more worried about the gender pay-gap, the thigh gap, the fact that more young girls have eating disorders than their male counterparts and the fact that men receive more scientific funding than women just cos.
I am a feminist. The women and men who dedicated their lives to give me the vote, allow me to wear trousers, burn my bra and blur the lines of gender are heroes. I’m ready to embrace what they set out to achieve. When feminists are ready to embrace the sisterhood, let me know.