But as time has gone on I have realised that whilst there are areas in which equality has come on leaps and bounds, there are plenty of others where women suffer just because they are women. And that’s not fair and we need to keep on trying to change it.
Which I guess makes me a feminist.
Although hopefully a nicely dressed one who doesn’t hate men.
I have two daughters and part of my impetuous to try and change attitudes is because I want them to grow up with more opportunities than me and without having to fight some of the battles I’ve had to.
But we seem to live in a society that is teaching young girls that their aspirations should mainly be to become princesses and presumably off the back of this to grow up to become WAGs.
Whatever happened to giving girls role models like Marie Curie, Margaret Thatcher, Emmeline Pankhurst, Beatrix Potter? Whatever happened to letting girls play at being doctors, vets, firefighters, pirates rather than just princesses and fairies?
I had an attack of The Rage in John Lewis recently – all of the clothes were split into boy or girl (and labelled as such) and if I wanted to buy bright primary coloured items for the girls I had to go to the boys collection. The girls section was a sea of pink, pastel and sparkles.
I had a similar attack of The Rage in the Early Learning Centre where it appears that every toy now comes in a choice of pink or blue plastic. The gender non specific bright primary colours seem to have disappeared entirely over the last three years and I couldn’t bring myself to replace our red bubble machine with the barbie pink one so the girls are condemned to the ‘boyish’ blue.
What is it with this onslaught of pink and its associated assumption about princesses?
When did we stop showing girls that they can be heroic, strong, courageous and start telling them that they should only be decorative, beautiful, poised?
Have you seen the princess magazines that are on sale? There are no princesses jumping on horses to go and fight battles like Queen Elizabeth I or Joan of Arc. There are no princesses running multi national companies or leading countries like Cath Kidson or Helen Clark. There are no women fighting courageous battles like Aung San Suu Kyi
But when I try and gently counter this I am treated as I am exposing my daughters to some form of poison. That I should be encouraging them to conform to this stereotype.
One of the reasons I keep on working is to show the girls that you can work. That there are choices and that motherhood doesn’t mean an end to ambition and achievement. Admittedly I’m still working on that balance but at least I’m trying.
I’ve searched out books where the princess is strong and brave and doesn’t rely on a prince to complete her life – the Paperbag Princess and Princess Smartypants are firm favourites in our house (I suspect that Bigger is hoping for a crocodile or a motorbike for her birthday).
But it all feels like so very little.
Do you have any suggestions for how to quietly counter the anti-feminism sea of pink?
Photo credit – Pink Stinks (and yes you should go and check out their campaign)