This is a post I’ve been meaning to, and avoided writing for quite some time. For several reasons, firstly, it is something that it so important to me that I want to do it justice. Next, it’s controversial and I don’t want to offend or undermine anyone else’s opinions or beliefs on the matter. And finally because it’s such a huge topic, I’m not really sure where to start, where to finish or where it’s going to go in the middle. So please bear with me on all of the above and hopefully we’ll end up with some semblance of a half decent article.
Right, now, what is it I’m actually on about? Feminism. [She senses a clicking of the X to close the post by some.]
Yesterday, 6th Feb 2018, my newsfeeds and timelines filled up with posts celebrating 100 years since women were first granted the right to vote in the UK. Not all women, but a good step in the right direction. So how is it a century later, that we still need to discuss feminism and equality? I wish it was something that we didn’t have to, and I have no doubt that there are at least a few of you reading saying, “We don’t. Women are as equal, if not more equal* than men now. We have a female prime minister for crying out loud, how much more equality do you want?!”.
It is like describing colour to the blind
Explaining inequality to someone who has never dealt with it is like describing colour to the blind. I will not be able to do it justice. And as I imagine the majority of the people reading this on LinkedIn will be of a male-white-middle-class demographic, I’m probably already on an upheaval. But if you’ve made it this far, then read on. I dares ya.
I’ve come on a long journey with feminism.
I was a tomboy at school, who would rather play football than play kiss-chase.
I was the only girl in my Physics A-Level class
I was one of 2 females in my design and manufacturing engineering degree class.
I spent the best part of a decade working in construction where it wasn’t unusual to be the only woman on site in a non-admin based role.
I spent years being wound up and angry about the injustice, the pay gap, the belittlement, the sexual harassment, the cat-calling [yes they are the same thing but I thought I’d type it twice in two different ways, just to make it clear], the undermining, the lack of education and many other things which all amount to inequality and led to my fierce affiliation with feminism.
And then I woke up. And I was tired of fighting to be treated like a man.
Hell, I do not want to be treated like a man. I want to be treated like the powerful woman that I am.
The powerful woman that I am
You can’t compare apples with apples when we are bananas and peaches [immature chuckle break]. We have different physiology. But our capacity to learn and think are the same. Sure, we’ll all take different roads to get to the same destination but there’s no right and wrong in that logic. To me, feminism and equality is not everyone being or doing the same. It’s about honouring our true self, our innate qualities, our unique superpowers, respecting one another and being grateful for our differences.
The reason it was so important for women to gain the right to vote was because when decisions are made which are not representative of the whole population, you are not honouring the differences. To paraphrase Corbyn, you are for the few, not the many. If you make a cake without sugar (women), butter, eggs and cocoa powder (think race/ class/ sexuality/ religious beliefs etc.) then you just get baked plain flour. And who wants a societal equivalent of that? No-one. I’ve never met anyone who would rather have baked plain flour instead of a chocolate cake.
Belief, education and about £40,000
So, 100 years on, why are we still not explaining to girls that they can work, and be successful in industries which are currently inherently male? Why is it an office and site full of men needed to construct new buildings? Do you know what the difference between a PM and a PA is? Belief, education and about £40,000. Why are we not giving more women the belief, the education and the money? Because they demonstrate every day that they have the skill set to run and manage an office and get people to do what they want. They just maybe didn’t shout and bang their fists to do it.
Softness, vulnerability, caring, nurturing, loving. All words which could describe a mother successfully running a home, but running a construction site, pah, never! So woman has tried to imitate the hard, severe, crude qualities of the masculine in order to claw her way up the ladder. I’ve seen it to many times to count. Hard-faced women, laddish banter, giving shit out to the boys just to level up with her male comrades. Not the woman who is going to encourage more women into the industry. Women need to feel like they are part of a sisterhood to really thrive. Women who are constantly pitting themselves against each other will be the demise of women in any industry. And the reason women do this is as a territorial marking, because she’s insecure and believes that her uniqueness as a woman on site is her strength. It’s not. It’s all the other wonderful things that she’s learnt to hide over the years, because they don’t fit the masculine environment she works in.
Grey matter shrinks as neural networks become more specialised
Why do we still have conversations about a woman limiting her career because she chooses to also have a family? Likening the prospect of promotion or salary increase during her maternity period to a man taking a year sabbatical to travel the world [yes, I really have had this conversation]. Not honouring her and respecting and marvelling at what she is creating. At the point when she is no longer able to contribute to a company, she is no longer considered of the same value [statutory maternity pay is 90% for the for 6 weeks and then 90% or £140.98 per week, whichever is LOWER, for the remaining 33 weeks].
[Side note: did you know a woman’s brain actually changes during pregnancy? Baby brain is an actual thing, grey matter shrinks as neural networks become more specialised in areas involved in processing and responding to social signals and the hippocampus (related to memory) shrinks. This allows the mother to stop worrying about details which do not have any real consequence and become attuned to social surroundings in order to ensure her child’s wellbeing and safety is her main priority. This change lasts for approximately 2 years after birth, which is why so many women find it extremely difficult to return to work and leave their child with someone else, most commonly, a complete stranger. An incredible change which means that your child is kept safe. But often downplayed as being a forgetful new mum.]
Let’s face it. Money is King. [Do you like the masculine term I used there to demonstrate it’s top?] And until we can equally recompense women for their contributions to society in the same monetary way that we do for men [I mean, like, the comparison that raising a well rounded child with good morals being on par with someone making numbers go up and down in a stock exchange is even a valid one [eye roll]] then we will never really achieve equality.
The delicate balance of yin and yang
No woman really wants to be a man**. She just wants to live in a society where she knows that her ability to formulate and execute ideas, plans and tasks is equal to a man’s and be respected for that.
When we honour the feminine and masculine, you know that woman doesn’t need to be man. We live in a universe which survives on a delicate balance. Day and night. Ice cold and scorching heat. Wooden branches and soft fruits. The delicate balance of yin and yang.
So here I am, calling bullshit on anyone who thinks that feminism shouldn’t still be a thing.
And I will continue to call bullshit until, as a society, we value the strengths of the feminine.
Sometimes you need brute strength, other times you need inner strength.
- This article is based on my own experiences and those which I have born witness to and the conclusions I have drawn from those.
- I do not believe that jobs should be gender specific, if you want to do something and it is not physically a detriment to you, then I fully back you.
- I know not all women want to have families. I do not believe that anyone should feel pressure from society to conform.
- Child bearing does remain a female only role, unless you are Arnold Schwarzenegger in Junior.
- *More equal is one of my all-time favourite phrases.
- ** Ok, some women do want to be men. And I have generalised throughout.