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Think there’s no place for feminism think again

I’ve read an awful lot about how women today don’t need feminism, that they don’t consider themselves feminism and that we live in an equal world.

 

And you know, if that really is the case then super.

 

Trouble is that I don’t think it really does reflect the world.

 

I still think that there is a corrosive amount of low level sexism seeping through our society and there’s an awful lot of explicit, active sexism and if you haven’t encountered that they you are lucky and an exception, not the norm.

 

I was fascinated to see Linda Grant’s twitter timeline on International Women’s Day – what started out as a single tweet became a deluge of witness to where our so-called post feminist world has got to.  It’s now been saved and set up as One Thousand Reasons.

 

It articulates the casual, and less casual, sexism that women still have to deal with.

 

Read it and weep.

 

Go now, and then wonder how feminism can’t be important to every single woman.

 

Because these things aren’t happening to faceless women in history, they are little things happening every day to women like you and like me.

 

Take being told just after I got married that I wouldn’t be promoted because I’d be off having babies soon. Yes, in 2004 – can you imagine?

 

Or having junior (male naturally there were only a couple of girls in the graduate intake every year) bankers come up and ask me where another banker was, assuming that as a woman I must be a secretary irrespective of where I was sat (the two most senior level bankers had different desks – set around the edge of the floor and only they had those desks…)

 

Or the assumption from our junior male pool that when I left abruptly to go on bedrest I wouldn’t be coming back and they could pilfer my belongings from my desk. And the shock when I came back and demanded that they return my belongings NOW because I (a) still worked there, (b) still outranked them and (c) would be telling HR they had stolen them if they were not back quick fast

 

Or the mother who took 9 months off not 6 (you get your own job back if back after 6 months maternity leave, only an equivalent job if take any longer) and ended up travelling to Russia 4 days a week and never saw her family. Amazingly it took her 6 months to resign. And yes it was a deliberate attempt to get her to leave.

 

Or the assumption from my so-called-family friendly that if I asked for flexible hours then I couldn’t possibly have a client facing job.

 

Or the boss I worked for after Bigger was born who said he liked having working mothers on his team because they were used to having less sleep than anyone else…

 

Or the fact that I look around and notice how few women there are, that having a meeting where I am not the only female is unusual not the norm.

 

I just really wish things had moved on further in the 15 years that I have been working. But they haven’t.

 

I wish I knew how to fix this, to make it better but I don’t.

 

All I can do is keep on trying to do my job, keep showing that I am as good as the men I work alongside and show that having children, being a woman, doesn’t mean that I am less capable or less committed and hope that by the time my daughters are my age they won’t be facing these self same problems.

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15 comments to Think there’s no place for feminism think again

  • And THAT, Hannah, is why you rock x

  • I find feminism horribly difficult and divisive. I’ve been caught out shouting about how women are not, and need to be, treated equally only to be told I can’t possibly be a feminist because I wax my legs…

    Aren’t there more important things? Like all the ones you list.

  • Yvonne

    Thank you so much for your honesty. I share in your utter disbelief that our world hasn’t really changed all that much from Mad Men. Among other indignities I suffered as a working mom, I was asked repeatedly during a job interview how I thought I could possibly manage a full-time job with two little ones at home. A hammering that surely no man has ever experienced. Another fun fact to digest, working moms are now the most discriminated against demographic in the work environment. Short of us all moving to Scandinavia, I have no answers. Just profound disappointment.

  • Really well said. I experienced subtle but still sexist things when I went back to work from a multi-national, ‘family friendly’ company. It wasn’t all from men either. Some women sadly buy into it all
    Too. I successfully managed a client facing position and was very popular with customers. Like with most terminology it gets tired so ‘feminism’ has become a negative word in some contexts. I always say I’m feminist and proud. Without former feminists we wouldn’t have the working rights we have now.

    • I named Littlest for one of the suffragettes because we owe them to carry on their good work – and yes some women seem as bad as men, why should we become like them and not embrace different as being good?

  • Mama and more

    Very well put, and I am sure that is just a sample of what you and so many others experience. I’ve sadly come to feel that the term “family friendly” is nothing more than PR jargon, and it is indeed true that sadly other women in the workplace also encourage the negativity towards each other and especially women to demonstrate that they empathise with the male staff who are often the decision makers. Like you, I can only keep on challenging it and hope that things change for my daughter and that if they don’t I equip her ready to continue to fight.

    • Am increasingly convinced it is a term to make companies look good and the reality is far different. My firm wins prizes for its diversity and flex working and yet it isn’t reality for most people in the firm – how does that work?

  • Excellent post. Keep working at it – I think your field is probably one of the worse. In publishing we’re a predominantly female workforce and there is generally a lot more flexibility available – from freelancing, to working part-time to working flexi-time. Even then, there are still difficulties, of course.

    On the general attitude front, though, I can still be shocked. A couple of years ago I went round with RoRo (and LaLa in the sling) for a playdate with a new friend. Her friend’s dad was at home (he’s a hospital doctor and works varying shifts) and at one point I was sat in a room with just him and LaLa, at which point he attempted to make conversation. And he asked “So, what does your husband do?” Um. Er. I was completely floored for a moment, before I answered, “The same as me, in fact. We run a business together…” He was equally flummoxed. I suppose, having a small baby attached to my boob at the time, he might have assumed I wasn’t working at the time, but it seemed very odd.

  • […] There are a couple of posts about being a working mum that resonated this week. I’m lucky enough to work from home, which I think can make life (and work) a lot easier, but there are always challenges, even in this day and age, which is something Chez Mummy talks about in her post about her search for a work life balance and something which Muddling Along Mummy discusses in her post about why feminism is still really very important. […]

  • For all the reasons you have listed and many more, we still have such a long way to go.

    Women are still often not paid as much as men for doing the same job.

    The rape conviction rate is 6%. Just 6%. And that’s only those rapes that are reported and get as far as a court room.

    2 women die at the hands of a male partner or ex-partner every week.

    We do not enjoy even close to equal representation when it comes to policy and law making.

    I just cannot understand why, in the face of facts such as these, there are still people who claim that feminism is no longer relevant. All they have to do is take a look around.

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