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 can't remember not being... But one defining moment was when I got friendly with a couple who both worked FT. The DW announced that she wasn't a feminist. But she was in the Police and I pointed out to her that if it wasn't for her female predecessors standing up and demanding employment equality, she wouldn't have a job (or at least, not outside the typing pool). Her just taking for granted the fight that others had been through so that women could do a "man's" job and have equal pay really made my blood boil. angry

78bunion Tue 08-Oct-13 17:19:14

I grew up when all those books came out in the 70s and the Equal Pay Act. Any clever woman would have been and will be today.

YoniTime Tue 08-Oct-13 16:55:59

It's easier not to be a feminist IMO - seeing the hidden inequality everywhere while people around you seem oblivious can be beyond infuriating at times.

I think it's difficult for women no matter what.

When I wasn't aware of feminist ideas I would go around feeling like shit because of sexist things but not really understand why and blame myself a lot. I had terrible self-esteem and had internalized a lot of misogyny.
Now that I'm very aware of things all the sexism and misogyny everwhere and clueless people is depressing/enraging but at least I know what's going on. I have better self-confidence. But yes, the awareness is taxing.

CailinDana Tue 08-Oct-13 16:26:38

Mumsnet prompted me to actually identify with feminism, more from reading the relationships board than the FWR one. But the first time I remember being aware of misogyny/inequality was when I was about 12 and doing very well at school when my father said he thought educating women was pointless as their place is in the home. The fact that he had at that stage been a SAHD for 10 years while my mother worked full time in a professional job requiring a degree didn't stop him from mindlessly spouting these views. I felt very hurt and insulted but I also learned that sexism wasn't a logical thing and that it had no foundation in reality. It taught me to seriously question the dynamics in my parents' relationship such as the way my mother always did all the laundry and most of the housework despite the fact that my father was at home all day while we were at school. I was something of an unusual teenager in tjat I was baffled at the way intelligent girls seemed to turn into giggly doormats around boys. I had zero interest in boys - they just seemed incredibly immature and annoying. I didn't get in a lather over Brad Pittt or Take That because liking someone you didn't actually know seemed weird to me.
I got into relationships in my 20s and had mixed experiences including rape. I did find myself succumbing to traditional expectations at times. Then I met dh and though he does have the usual male sense of entitlement he was willing to listen when I challenged it and has changed massively in the last 11 years IMO.
My interest in feminism as an actual movement was slowly set alight when I was pregnant with my ds but I still felt it wasn't for me (successfully brainwashed into thinking feminism was about whining when there was nothing much to complain about, in spite of my actual experiences) and really it's only in the last year or so since being pg with and having a dd that I've begun to think yes I am a feminist largely for my daughter's sake.
It's easier not to be a feminist IMO - seeing the hidden inequality everywhere while people around you seem oblivious can be beyond infuriating at times.
One thing - I had swallowed the capitalist message that to be a true feminist I couldn't be a SAHM. It was only when I actually talked to real feminists that I realised what bullshit that was. I am a SAHM for my own and my children's benefit and I am not a skivvy or a servant.

I think I have held feminist beliefs since the mid 70s when I was given a book called Heroines for my 9th or 10th birthday. I wanted to be Valentina Tereshkova!

It was however, many years later when my father called me a feminist as an intended insult that I realised "Yes I am one aren't I" grin

EBearhug Tue 08-Oct-13 11:32:38

joanofarchitrave, I'm pretty sure I am not your sister, but I do have a ton of cousins and second cousins and so on, and I'd be surprised if there weren't some in MN, so it's possible.

.oO(Hmm, do I need to tidy up my posting history...)

Bearleigh Mon 07-Oct-13 21:21:01

I grew up with mixed messages in the 1960s, with my mum impressing on me the desirability of having a career, yet telling me that men should be paid more than women because they had families to support. I have ignored all of that and am pretty happy with what I have achieved in my work and family. I have also been lucky enough not to have suffered too much from extreme sexism, including not being assaulted or whistled at in the streets.

What has recently heightened my consciousness though is the website "Everyday sexism". Reading the crap that some women have to put up with has made me much more likely to challenge the everyday sexism that I do encounter.

I am proud that Babybearleigh, a 14 year old boy proudly calls himself a feminist and has female friends.

That and I'm from Essex. I've suffered jokes since able to speak. Gives you an early start....

joanofarchitrave Mon 07-Oct-13 21:12:45

I don't remember exactly when. Ebearhug, your family sounds quite like mine (wonder if you are a cousin or my sister...) My mother was and is a feminist though more of a classic first wave feminist than a second wave one; my sister gave me Our Bodies Ourselves for my 16th birthday. I went to an all-girls' school. I remember telling my aunt during my first year of university in a very shocked way that one of my female friends at college didn't see the need for feminism any more. She said 'well perhaps she is right...' and that started me questioning all sorts of things.

I do now feel that capitalism, rather than patriarchy, is what seeks to categorise us, as we can then be sold more things to differentiate ourselves further (e.g. gender divided children's clothing, much more prevalent now than ever before). I am not quite sure whether I am still a feminist, if I am honest. I do still have a visceral reaction to people being grouped and generalised about.

I saw sleeping with the enemy at fifteen and merrily recommended mums friends watched it over Sunday lunch. I really have a Jonathan Ross worthy description. I was shocked in the car on the way home where mum gently pointed out the 'idiosyncracies' of their home was due to the exact situation of the film. I knew then without knowing a word for it what I was.

Give the H his due he really covered well. I'd never have guessed without mum saying later. Still feel dreadful about it 20yrs later. Poor woman dead now too....

hermioneweasley Mon 07-Oct-13 21:08:53

Can't remember ever not identifying a feminist, but I think finding my mother's copy of "the female eunuch" helped give voice to my thoughts and views

unfortunatedischarge Mon 07-Oct-13 21:06:14

Also dd is a terror who runs around the house shooting webs out of her hand because she is spider man/woman (depending on her mood) and jumping head first off tables...and baby ds is a sweet snugly little cuddler who just wants to sit on his my lap while wearing dd's glittery pink castoffs... how long before they realise they are "doing it wrong"? And have to give it all up?

My dh and I are both on the extremely side and I think basing on the rest of the males in our families it would not be a surprise if ds turns out to be a 6'6 man mountain (and a vegetarian as that's how they are being raised) will people see that as a walking visual joke?

Also dd will be very tall too will she feel like I did about myself? ashamed of her hight and strength?

unfortunatedischarge Mon 07-Oct-13 21:01:33

Always been one but was lsightly embarrassed to identify as one, would never have used patriarchey in convesation (for example)...

Being pregnant and realising what it actually means to first be seen as an incubator... and the terrible ideas people have about what it means to be a mother or a pregnant woman or god forbid a breast feeder... or maybe even before that when I dealt with infertility and felt like less of a woman because my "girl parts" didn't work properly and hearing stories of men saying they'd leave if their wives couldn't make them babies angry cause that's a
ll women are a series of parts available for fucking or breeding

and then having a dd and realizing all the great things I had as a kid were no longer available in the colors they actually are and only come in pink and glitter or with a sign across the front that says "for boys only" arghhhh!

roadwalker Mon 07-Oct-13 19:26:11

I don't know that I would actually label myself as a feminist but have believed in equality at a young age

When my brother (who really didn't want to) became an altar boy I complained to the priest that there were no altar girls
I guess I was about 7. He was so sick of me complaining that he let me ring the bell during mass
I only got to ring it twice. I must have really wanted my voice heard because instead of a single, subtle ding I really went for it and belted it out

TombOfMummyBeerest Mon 07-Oct-13 19:12:43

At the core, I think I've always had feminist leanings, even as a child. I appreciated strong female role models and outspoken women who did what they wanted, how they wanted.

I most identified as a feminist in university, though, when I had friends who were in bad relationships and refused to get out of them because they "felt safer and better" about themselves when they had boyfriends. I became adamant that women should respect themselves and see themselves as worthy of love because they believe in themselves.

Now that I have a daughter, I'm more vocal about it now than ever before. She's amazing, and I refuse to let her self-worth be dictated by men or Mean Girls. Sometimes I'm more concerned about the latter.

meddie Mon 07-Oct-13 18:50:03

All my life I have been aware that women were treated differently (born 1966). At primary I refused to do needlework and made a huge fuss about being allowed to do woodwork
A lot was to do with the fact I was a tomboy and all the things I was interested in I was told I wasnt allowed because I was a girl.
I joined the cubs before it was allowed,thanks to a wonderful forward thinking leader.
The feeling that there was a lot of injustice towards women finally got a name in my teens and I identified straight away.
I hate how feminism has been associated with butch man hating dungaree wearing lesbians (societies view not mine) and this has prevented many women identifying with it.

This is so interesting. smile

I was raised to believe that I could do anything as well, and when I was working I never experienced any kind of barrier (I worked in 2 male-dominated fields). But my dad has never lifted a finger to do any housework, despite he and my mum both working full-time, and seems bewildered if my mum complains about it.

BuffytheFeministFeminist Mon 07-Oct-13 13:43:59

My parents have always been feminists, both of them. They raised my sister and I to believe that we could be whatever we wanted to be, there was no hint of "you can't, girls don't do that".

And then came academia and Mumsnet, which encouraged me to read and think and observe and made me realise that even though girls are raised to think they can do and be anything, society doesn't really believe it!

emcwill74 Mon 07-Oct-13 13:37:30

I think I've always been a feminist in my thinking but didn't know much about feminism as a movement and up until a few years ago I was a bit scared of the word and wouldn't use it to describe myself. I've always been anti-page 3 (my parents had the Sun delivered all through my late childhood and teens) and when the whole hacking scandal erupted and the NOTW closed I suddenly thought the tide was turning against Murdoch and this was an excellent time to start rallying people against it. I wrote lots of emails and letters to various groups and my MP etc, and also found the FWR forum (and hence MN in general) and about a year later I saw the NMP3 petition and was so excited that someone else was doing something too! It was the whole Page 3 issue that made me open a twitter a/c and there that I feel I 'learned' a lot about feminism in general by reading blogs that people posted links to, as well as reading discussion on here, and realised that this is exactly what I am. I am really proud to identify as feminist now.

This is a really nice thread to read.

For me it came in two stages. I think I was always vaguely 'feminist', but I would have assumed that basically every decent person was a feminist, that we all wanted equality for women, that the world was getting to be pretty much equal and it was all ok.

Then gradually, I realized that it wasn't like that. At university I came across some quite seriously nasty misogyny, then I lived with a partner who simply refused to accept that he could do work around the house, or cook, or treat me like a human being. His needs always came first. So that was a wake-up call.

Then I came on here, and I think I got much more confident about it, and a couple of years ago I started teaching undergraduates and realized that some of them were really struggling with these ideas. So I started consciously saying I was a feminist - not just identifying as one but speaking up about it.

whatdoesittake48 Mon 07-Oct-13 11:11:45

I read "the women's room" when I was 12 but didn't exactly understand it. I tried again when i was 14 and just got it. it coincided with my Mum deciding to go it alone without my Dad and seeing her struggles with fitting in with his patriarchal views. before I knew it I was a feminist through and through.

All I knew was that I needed to be something to make it clear to myself and others that I wasn't going to put up with the crap I saw other women go through. However, simply identifying myself in that way didn't stop anything I have been a victim too many times to count.

I thought describing myself as a feminist would mean I would never be a victim - soooo wrong. I was just a victim who knew she was a victim.

FloraFox Sun 06-Oct-13 21:58:32

I'm a cradle feminist. My mother was a feminist and a socialist activist and it was part of our daily lives. I had friends whose parents taught them to "know their place" and I'm very grateful to my mother for teaching me never to know mine. I count myself very fortunate to have been raised by a feminist mother.

RubyrooUK Sun 06-Oct-13 21:50:06

My mum brought me up to think that I was equal to anyone. In fact, that anyone was equal to anyone else, regardless of gender, race, background. She was very active politically in the 60s.

But then I noticed that my mum, who identifies as a feminist, had given up a high profile career so my dad could pursue his dreams. And that she still did all the domestic duties as well as being the main earner financially. And I got angry and knew that I would not want to live my life by those rules.

I wouldn't say I am particularly learned about feminism although I have read some of books mentioned here. It's more that instinctively I feel feminist in my outlook. If that makes any sense at all...grin

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.

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.

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