When did you first identify as a feminist and what prompted it?

(48 Posts)

I was just wondering, really. smile

For me it wasn't until last year at the age of 31, and it was thanks to a thread on Mumsnet about why some women don't identify as feminists. I went on all ready to post but instead found myself agreeing more with the feminist posters. I tentatively started lurking here (I'd previously found FWR very aggressive and intimidating so had avoided it) and I've been here ever since. smile

I'm still very ignorant about the types of feminism and feminist theory etc, but I think I've learned a lot so far.

I think it was a few years ago. MN was brilliant at helping me understand why I felt so angry about situations that seemed to happen only to women, and the blame that is heaped on us for merely being female.

I went to my first feminist conference about 3 years ago as a result of MN which was wonderful.

YoniTime Sat 05-Oct-13 19:27:46

I actually don't identify as a feminist. I see feminism as a tool women can - and should!- use to understand our situation/oppression and to make changes. It's a very important tool. I don't think it's very important to identify as something, I've met sexist men (and women) who call themselves feminist.
The important thing is values and how someone acts. Sorry if it's off topic I do understand that others find it important to identify as feminists. I'm glad you started to lurk here and stayed, I've learnt a lot here toosmile

SplitHeadGirl Sat 05-Oct-13 19:53:41

Right after my eldest daughter was born. I started to think more about the kind of lives women have, and the kind of life SHE would have....I came here, and read a lot of past threads and visit every day (don't post much as others here say everything so much better than me - the women here are among the most interesting, clever and educational people I have come across online) and that was that.

NiceTabard Sat 05-Oct-13 20:22:54

Teens? Can't remember not, after I was a child.

It just seemed like the obvious thing to be. I couldn't understand when people I knew weren't. When I asked a couple of friends (aged 16) they said it was because they didn't see a need for it as what was wrong with the way things were. They are both in very "traditional" relationships now. So I guess they genuinely didn't see a need for it.

That's interesting, Yoni.

NiceTabard if you had asked me at 16 I wouldn't have seen the need for it either, but because I genuinely believed that equality had been achieved. hmm

NiceTabard Sat 05-Oct-13 21:10:16

Actually I know what it was, it was low level street harrassment and knowing people formed an opinion about me based on me because of what I looked like. My personality / interests didn't fit my appearance, yet people assumed things about me based on appearance, and so for me it was always obvious that something was wrong.

GretaGroovy Sat 05-Oct-13 21:23:12

12. My dad prompted it. He explained to me about titles and how historically men gave daughters to husbands and how you could choose not to think about yourself that way. I can't say he went into equal pay and wifework and the way it all goes to pot when you have kids, but he did at least make a start grin

EBearhug Sat 05-Oct-13 21:54:27

As a teenager, I suppose. I was brought up doing everything - housecleaning as well as using a saw and stuff like that. I think a key point was that I went to a single sex secondary school, and we were told we were the business women and leaders of tomorrow. I also had a grandmother and loads of great aunts, who unusually for their generation, had all done some sort of higher education. I didn't know it was that unusual when I was at school, because I didn't know any different. No one ever told me stuff like girls aren't as good at maths or girls can't do a particular career, or anything else like that, so I didn't particularly see a need for feminism, but I was also aware of things like women winning the vote, the equal pay act, the Greenham Common women, so I knew that not all generations had had it my way.

Then in the 6th form, we had shared classes in some subjects with the boys school, and when they were planning a French trip, a decision was made that all the boys would be in individual tents, and the girls would be in one large tent. It never occurred to me not to question why we were being treated differently, just because we were girls, especially as I was in the middle of working through DofE, and was far more adept at putting up a tent than most of the boys. As a result, I was camping in an individual tent for that trip.

There have been other things where I've been really taken aback that people have expected me to do something or behave in a particular way (like tidying up after a party, where the women were expected to do the washing up, and the men were set to take down the gazebos and stuff. I insisted on doing the gazebos.) Now I'm in my 40s, and more aware that not every family is like mine, I don't get quite so surprised these days that there are still times when people make assumptions about what I will do, can do, just because of my sex, but I am still a bit surprised.

It's probably not a coincidence that I work in a particularly techy area of IT where I have often been the only woman in the department, and always in a minority.

TensionWheelsCoolHeels Sat 05-Oct-13 23:08:38

I think I'm always wary of stating that I'm a feminist because I don't feel educated enough on the subject. I probably am more confident in that assertion now, mainly down to the FWR section here and all the fantastic discussions that I've learned so much from. A lot of the subjects discussed have chimed with some gut instincts I've had on various issues over the years but never been able to verbalise why something bothered me.

But my gut feelings on 'injustice' stem from way back into my childhood, being expected to do domestic chores while my brother sat on his arse. It still rankles with me that both my parents thought that was reasonable and I'm 40 now! I think the 1st time I faced actual discrimination in an organised setting was after returning to my job after maternity leave. Again, I was quite stunned that I was judged entirely differently because I'd had a baby and was deemed no longer capable of doing the job I'd done for 14 years previously.

WhentheRed Sun 06-Oct-13 00:30:58

I was raised by a feminist. My mother was a feminist activist my entire life. My uncle, who was a priest, gave me the Second Sex as a gift for my 13th birthday.

Spiritedwolf Sun 06-Oct-13 08:32:08

I've always valued fairness, as many children and teenagers do. But largely I was brought up and educated in a culture that told me we had equality now, that feminism was important because it got women the vote and equal pay hmm but it was a historical thing.

Even when I did Religious, Moral and Philosophical Studies as a crash higher in sixth year, and we did a topic on Women and Christianity, where there was talk of different treatment of women because of different interpretations of the bible, I didn't think it was particuarly about me, because I wasn't a christian, and anyway, it was about things to do with religion like female leadership in the church. We must have had some discussions in class about things like sexual violence, because I remember one of our teachers who was male said that if he was raped by a male stranger and reported it to the police, he would be believed and that it was unlikely that he would face the same scrutiny as women do/did in court about whether he was likely to choose to have a one night stand. But largely I didn't realise there was a huge problem with everyday sexism.

My awareness was raised by having a female friend as an adult who was already very aware of feminism (interestingly another RE teacher) and by Mumsnet.

But I really got passionate about the subject myself when I was pregnant. For two reasons. One, I was going through something that is unique to women, and the subject of women's rights with regard to care during pregnancy and childbirth seemed very relevant - and discussions about the care of children do too now. Two, I choose not to find out the sex of baby till the birth. This gave me a lot of food for thought about what difference sex and gender make, and I worried a lot about how to raise a child who would be comfortable in their own skin, with their own interests rather than the narrow blue/pink stuff that's thrust upon them.

biryani Sun 06-Oct-13 09:01:57

Like many girls, I sort of assumed that if you worked hard and applied yourself, you would achieve your goals

biryani Sun 06-Oct-13 09:02:14

?

meditrina Sun 06-Oct-13 09:07:08

I can't remember ever not.

I am old enough to remember the passing of the first ever equal pay Act in the 1970s. But I'm not sure that was a formative moment, though memorable. Being brought up by a mother who was in a career that is still considered male-dominated, and who prized a good education for her children of both sexes, were important factors. And discovering that one granny was a suffragette came as no surprise.

biryani Sun 06-Oct-13 09:12:21

Bloody tablet!

I first "identified" as a feminist when Lady Diana Spencer simpered her way into the public consciousness by marrying a prince and living a fairytale life just by being born priveleged and being in the right place at the right time. To me she was the antithesis ofwhat a woman should be: she was ill-educated and entitled. Even in the early days she played on

biryani Sun 06-Oct-13 09:18:04

her feminity to manipulate the public by lowering her eyelashes and generally acting shy and submissive. Later on she used her feminine charms to get the public to side with her against her husband.

I was outraged!

It was very gradual for me, with some distinct markers.

I got pregnant quite young. I had very ingrained ideas in pregnancy and birth. But being rather inquisitive, though it was OBVIOUS that pregnancy was easy and birth happened surrounded by medical professionals, I bought and read all the books on the subject. A lot made for very illustrative reading. I realised how the whole process has been shaped and controlled by, largely, men. It shocked me. And I made my decisions based on knowledge thereafter, not social norms, and as a young woman, experienced the opposition and controversy that causes.

After having my firstborn dd I found mumsnet. Which I'm partly embarrassed to admit, shaped my identity and view of the world greatly. I found politics, a love I have for food, I learnt to question and to think a lot more about my actions, and choices. I breastfed, and discovered all the mixed views and reactions that causes (i was cast as either corpus mother earth or preachy green idiot) I found people were repulsed by it, I started to notice how hidden it is and question why. I was offended by eurgh breast milk! Attitudes in mainstream TV. I found and read Gabrielle Palmers the politics of breastfeeding. I think this may have been the pivotal moment. Amazon recommended the beauty myth after the Gabrielle palmer book (at the time I wasn't ready to be annoyed at the presumption that breastfeeding books are apparently an indicator of feminist interests- which are largely demonised and this connection is another example of how odd breastfeeding is seen within our society) which led to wife work, fat is a feminist issue, and MN fwr board.

I'm very happy to have found feminism, but do sometimes hark back to the days when a pamper party for my 4yo was just boring, not offensive, and Disney films were easy to enjoy.grin (not to mention how much more angry I am, pretty much all the time, whenever I am out/watching TV/reading books/shopping)

ArmyOfPenguins Sun 06-Oct-13 10:36:46

About thirteen. Shortly after an incident at a party where I snogged an older boy who apparently had a girlfriend. I didn't know this. I got called all sorts and no one criticized him. Quite the opposite in fact. He also joined in with the insults toward me. I was very pissed off.

CaptChaos Sun 06-Oct-13 11:05:27

Last year.

I had been brought up by a very traditional Grand father, who told me constantly that I could be anything I wanted to be, do anything I wanted to do. Up until last year I had believed that that is what I had done, right up until the moment that I was told that I couldn't do a particular job because I was a woman. (I am aware that this is illegal, and that, -- if I never want to work for the company I am in again-- I could take this man to court)

I had always believed feminists to be unreasonable, the important battles had all been won, hadn't they? Lurking on FWR opened my eyes, a little extra reading opened them further, and I now identify as a Feminist. Much to my husband's exasperation!

motherinferior Sun 06-Oct-13 11:08:02

All my life. My mother identifies as a feminist. She isn't, in fact, what I'd term a particularly consistent feminist, but it was a start.

I am part of the generation of 1980s feminists who were really quite scary grin which is perhaps why I get a bit jaded when I'm lectured at on the FWR boards here (not so much now, but there used to be a poster who berated me all the time).

WoTmania Sun 06-Oct-13 11:29:19

In my early twenties when I became a SAHM.
Looking back there was inequality in the way I was treated compared to my brothers/male peers at school and within the sports I did but I never noticed it and definitely didn't link it to the bigger picture of general inequality and sexism.
I always had very 'male' interests and hobbies and was lucky (?) to find a group of male friends which meant that much of the general out and about sexism never affected me.
MN was instrumental though in cementing my thoughts when I discovered it a few years after having DC1 and giving me a structure to my feminism.

rosabud Sun 06-Oct-13 13:32:44

When Mrs Thatcher became Prime Minister in 1979 and I was 12. Not because I supported any of her policies, but because my dad announced that as his countrymen had elected a feamle leader (we were living abroad at the time), he was now ashamed to call himself British. Howver, my mum told me, not in my dad's hearing, that she thought a woman Prime Minister was a great thing. I don't think I knew the word feminist at the time, but it was a defining moment that made me realise that men's attitudes to women were illogical and unjust and that, for a woman, there was no point having anything if we didn't equality.

I also had the good fortune to go to a girls' school which strongly encouraged girls to think about careers etc and was able to go to university (a fact about which, ironically, my dad was immensely proud, as I was the first person in my family ever to stay in education beyond 16). At university I went to a lecture/workshop by an Australian feminist, Dale Spender - it was not so much a lightbulb moment as a lightning strike moment, really, and I have found feminism fascinating and essential ever since.

MaddAddam Sun 06-Oct-13 14:16:59

Mid teens. I have the Mail to thank. I always had the sentiments, even when I was at infant school (I ran a successful campaign to get the girls allowed to do woodwork not just sewing), but at 14 or so I went round to a friend's house and read a Mail rant about leftie pacifist lesbian feminists at Greenham. It was the most explicit item about feminism I'd come across til then. It made them sound raving mad but it piqued my interest.

SconeRhymesWithGone Sun 06-Oct-13 21:28:46

As a teenager in the late 1960s, I became involved in the Civil Rights Movement in the US. Like many others, I began to make the obvious connection with women's rights and became an activist in the Women's Liberation Movement. I am still a feminist activist.

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