Saturday, October 24, 2015

Yes, I am a Feminist

and why wouldn't I be? Despite the false propaganda we often see this does not mean I'm not anti-men but I do believe in equality. Don't you?

This is why I'm a feminist:

I'm old enough to remember what it was like be paid substantially less than my male colleagues who were doing exactly the same work - and having it explained to me by a man that I didn't need the same income because I'd have a husband to support me. I wasn't married at the time or even thinking about it and it didn't occur to him that sometimes husbands die leaving widows and children.

I'm old enough to remember when as a teacher, had I married, I would have had to resign my permanent position and become temporary staff having to reapply for my position every year - and, unlike married men, not being paid during school holidays.

I'm old enough to remember that when I went to buy my first car I couldn't take out a loan without having a man to act as my guarantor in case I defaulted. I was a full time teacher, bonded - and therefore obliged - to work for the Education Department for three years. My guarantor only had to prove he was employed.

I'm old enough to remember that when a work colleague was divorced she was refused loans by all the major banks when she wanted to buy a small place for her and her daughter to live in. A small profession based credit union finally agreed but by then she had spent months trying to find them a permanent home. She was a permanent senior public servant.

I'm old enough to remember when women had to resign from their jobs when they became pregnant and there was no such thing as maternity leave.

I'm old enough to remember when a woman could study law and get her degree but, unless she was lucky enough to have a close contact - a father or uncle most likely - who was prepared to take her on to do her articles, she could never practise.

I'm old enough to remember being told that women didn't have the mind set to be doctors, lawyers or engineers so we should set our sights on work more suited to our capabilities - like typists, secretaries, teachers, librarians and nurses.

I'm old enough to remember seeing many of the girls my age leave school to start work at fourteen - the legal age to leave school at the time - and many more leave at the end of the following year because it was a waste of time educating girls.

I'm old enough to remember being asked why I wanted to go to university when I was only going to go and get married.

So, yes, I am a feminist as everyone - men and women - should be. In my lifetime there have been many gains but there is still a long way to go. Even in the developed world women are still often paid at a lower rate than men, they often lose career position when they have children - many have to leave work to care for their children due to inadequate child care availability - and there is hidden discrimination despite attempts to legislate to prevent it. In the Third World the position of women is much worse.

I want to see a world where every girl growing up today enjoys the same oportunities as her male counterparts and it truly frightens me to hear young women saying they are not feminists. Things have changed a great deal since I was a young women but those gains remain under threat and we all need to be vigilant so we don't go backwards.

This is why I am a feminist and I make no apologies for it.

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