Tuesday, 5 November 2013

Can you be a 'mummy-blogger', and still be a feminist?

Did I mention that I'm going to Blogfest? Yes? Well one of the sessions that caught my eye on the programme is titled : Can you be a 'mummy-blogger', and still be a feminist?

I hadn't given much thought to feminism until fairly recently. As a child of the 80s I remember hearing something about womens' struggle for equality, but it seemed like it had all already happened. Bras had been burnt, horses had been jumped under and the three most important people in the world (Margret Thatcher, the Queen and Madonna) were all women. Job done.

As young women my friends and I encountered all the usual stuff, the guys in nightclubs who were "just being friendly".There was an unspoken protocol for dealing with them: pull the "help" face, rearrange the dancing circle. Move closer together and dance with elbows out behind you to keep those unwanted bodies from your backs. It was annoying and sometimes rather intimidating, when they just wouldn't go away, but it never occurred to most of us to be outraged. It was just something we all expected and put up with (being almost 6 foot tall didn't help much either. Daring your short mate to try and pull the tall bird seems to be something of a national sport). 

At work It was sometimes difficult to command respect, because I was young and female. I would dress older than I was and be sure to use my height to its full effect. But this never really held me back. It was only when I became a mother that I began to realise how far we still are, from where I thought we already were in the 80's.

I was very lucky, my employer readily agreed that I could take a years maternity leave and then return part time. I assumed it would be like this for most of my friends. We were all educated and in professional jobs. But as more of them began to have babies, very different stories started to emerge.  The women who were squeezed out their jobs, even out of businesses they had set up. The single mums whose employers refused to let them go part time, in the full knowledge that they'd be forced to quit. The senior employees expected to make the tea and take the minutes for men who had half their experience.

Then there is the constant media judgement, the lazy stay at home Mums, drinking lattes and sponging off their husbands or the state. The heartless working mothers, callously dumping their sprogs in nursery so they can pursue their careers while expecting the taxpayer to chip in for the costs. 

Being a Mummy can certainly make you think about feminism - but can you be a feminist and a mummy blogger?

Mummy blogging is, unsurprisingly, mostly women writing about raising children. It often includes cooking, crafts, fashion and beauty. Basically, the little, everyday domestic worlds that some women have fought for decades to escape. You could argue that advertising a life of kids and cupcakes is totally letting down the sisterhood.

I disagree though. For me, now I've thought about it,  feminism is about equality of choice. Its about being able to take up crochet or car mechanics, whatever your gender. Its about the contents of your pants being irrelevant to weather you want to be the prime earner or the prime carer in your household or if you choose to share both those roles. We don't make women equal to men by stopping the girls doing anything girly. We are equal when we can choose to blog about baking, fashion or nuclear physics and we're judged on the quality of our writing, not the gender of the writer.

That's the world that I want for my daughters. One where they can stay home and bake with their kids or run a multimillion dollar industry. Where they don't have to dress up as someone else to be taken seriously and where they can go out with their friends and have a proper good dance.

It'll be interesting to see what the debate at Blogfest brings up, the speakers know a whole lot more about this than me and I'm aware that there is an enormous amount of feminist philosophy and politics that I am completely ignorant of. Perhaps I'll even completely change my mind - isn't that a woman's scientist's prerogative?

SBx

PS - What do you think? Is all this twittering on about babies and bunting setting back the female cause? 

2 comments:

  1. It is about choice and things will have changed when my sons can choice to stay at home and be the carer. Not just legally but also culturally. I have always said when things change for men then we will have true choice. As the main earner in our family we still have a way to go.

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  2. Thanks for commenting, yes this absolutely applies to men as well. When my first daughter was born my husband rearranged his work hours so that he could look after her one day a week. He was often heaped with praise and surprise for this and it was great but really is it so strange that a man should want to spend time with his child?

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