Saturday, 4 August 2012

On becoming a feminist

Am I contributing to the rule of the patriarchy by choosing to be a stay at home mother? Can I call myself a feminist even though I am dependent on a man economically? 

Perhaps, and yes, I think so. Confusing, isn't it.

I was on a journey towards feminism for a long time. I was expecting a moment of clarity, when all of a sudden I would just know, or for someone to say, 'Hey you! Yes, you. I give you permission to be a feminist.' No prizes for spotting the flaws there.

In the end I just decided that I identified with feminism, that equality was important to me, and that was that. There was no fanfare as such (but I have ordered a badge from the very lovely and inspirational Ruth). I was prepared to increase my reading on the subject, and have started with gusto; but before I have had a chance to get comfortable, it seems I may not be one at all.

Can there be more than one definition of feminism? I suppose that's what it boils down to for me. If there is disagreement on what it constitutes, who gets the final say? 

I am aware that the feminism I identify with is very much a Western, privileged brand, chiefly concerned with egalitarian relationships (my marriage, my family) and equal opportunities (my career, challenging gender stereotypes). I have little concept of the experiences of millions of women around the world who do not have my quality of life. That in itself must mean that my interpretation of feminism is different to theirs.

All I can reasonably do, I think, is apply my ideals to my personal situation (thereby making it practical rather than theoretical) whilst seeking to improve my knowledge and awareness of the bigger picture. At present, that means choosing to care for my son, until such time as it makes sense to integrate other activities, paid employment included.

I managed to become a feminist without gaining anyone else's permission. I think it's logical to assume it's up to me whether I remain one or not.