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Hadley Freeman: 5 tips for being an awesome feminist

(118 Posts)
HannahMumsnet (MNHQ) Thu 25-Apr-13 15:40:29

Shakespeare once wrote that 'the path of true feminism never did run smooth' (or something similar). So to help us on our way, Guardian columnist (and author of 'Be Awesome: Modern Life for Modern Ladies') is sharing her 5 top tips for the woman of 2013.

"Not all women are feminists, and not all feminists are women, but one generalisation you can make about feminists is that they all aspire to awesomeness. That is because feminism is the fight for that most awesome of things: equality. Yet sometimes even this seemingly most straightforward of aims can become a little confused with well-intended but ultimately self-defeating gestures or simple confusions. But that's OK, nobody gets it right all of the time. Heck, even Germaine Greer went on Celebrity Big Brother once.

So in order to help keep you on the path of awesome feminism, here is a quick little guide to the matter:

1. Stop being so hard on yourself.

If feminism is about the fight for women's rights, then the most important woman whose rights you need to fight for are your own. So stop being so self-deprecating; stop beating yourself up for being too fat / ugly / forgetful; don't go on any ridiculous diets that sap you of your energy; don't be scared to speak up or to try things that you've always wanted to do; only talk to yourself in kind and encouraging tones. Give yourself a break, OK?

2. Don't be so hard on other women, either.

This doesn't mean you should always support women simply because of their gender (that is faux feminism), but be careful of holding women to higher standards than men. So many women do this unthinkingly, it's up to awesome feminists to break the habit.

3. Fight for women around the world to have access to contraception, sex education and abortion.

Yes, abortion is a sensitive subject but this is really a non-negotiable belief when it comes to feminism. Contrary to what liberal blogger Mehdi Hassan wrote last year in a much discussed article, you don't need to be pro-choice in order to be a leftie, but you do need to be pro-choice in order to be a feminist. Feminism is about enabling women to live to the most of their abilities and the most important factor in this is giving them control over their fertility. Abortion is not a pleasant procedure but it is a necessary one in a world in which people have sex and aren't always as careful as they should be. Moreover, women will still have abortions if they're not legal, just using more dangerous methods. There is no wiggle room here: awesome feminists need to fight this fight.

4. Motherhood is not a game of one-upmanship.

Motherhood is wonderful. Motherhood is tough. One thing motherhood is not is a competition. There is no 'right' age to have a baby, no 'best' way to give birth: only ways to work for individual women and individual children. There is no one way to be a woman and there is definitely no one way to be a mother. So don't talk in a way that insinuates the contrary and, if you hear anyone else talking that way, calmly and gently correct them. It's hard enough being a mother without mothers being hard on one another.

5. Please don't ever go on a reality TV show predicated on humiliating its contestants, especially if you were once my idol. (NB: that instruction is perhaps less generally applicable than the others as it is really directed at one person. But it remains true, nonetheless.)"

What do you think - do Hadley's rules of thumb match your own? Let us have your thoughts - or alternatives - here on the thread. And if you blog, don't forget to post your URLs here on the thread.

'Be Awesome: Modern Life For Modern Ladies' by Hadley Freeman is published by 4th Estate price £12.99.

Corygal Thu 25-Apr-13 16:12:03

I ache for Hadley and require no further feminism input from her but a smile from those fairy lips. The rest of the world isn't so charming, so I'll be asking them for equal rights.

Flisspaps Thu 25-Apr-13 16:53:23

She's right, but I'd have liked her to have included that 'contraception fails sometimes' in her bit about abortion - even when contraception is being used correctly and carefully, it can still lead to an unwanted pregnancy. It's not just about people having sex and not being careful!

NumTumDeDum Thu 25-Apr-13 16:54:51

Agree points 1, 2 and 3. Point 4 is really an extension of 2 but I agree with it. As for Point 5 Germaine Greer that is really an illustration of her exercising Point 1 - doing things you want to.

NumTumDeDum Thu 25-Apr-13 17:04:10

Good point Flisspaps. It should also include reference to rape victims.

AudreyParker Thu 25-Apr-13 19:11:54

Yes, that sentence shoudl just read 'Abortion is not a pleasant procedure but it is a necessary one in a world in which people have sex'.

I do like 'Be awesome' as a motto, it's pretty much what I live by, along with 'be excellent to each other'.

V good, tick.

NumTumDeDum Thu 25-Apr-13 19:21:45

AudreyParker, is that a Bill and Ted 'be excellent to one another'? Awesome.

DameFanny Thu 25-Apr-13 19:26:05

Yes, pregnancy is something that can be inflicted on women against their will, so abortion is important.

YoniMatopoeia Thu 25-Apr-13 19:50:08

Is number 5 not going against numer 2?

Takver Thu 25-Apr-13 20:16:01

Not so long as she would have the same view of a man going on such a programme, Yoni, surely?

Southeastdweller Thu 25-Apr-13 20:35:23

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Southeastdweller Thu 25-Apr-13 20:36:16

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

letsgetreadytoramble Thu 25-Apr-13 21:34:19

I have an 8 month baby and work full time and am always late for everything, and always seem to be bundling my baby hither and thither, and I heard myself say out loud this morning, in front of baby, 'god, you're shit at this Lets.' That thought often runs through my head as I'm scrambling for the bus, for my shoes, for my files, for dinner etc. Hadley is right, I don't give myself a break and I don't really give anyone else one either. From now on, I'll try to rush around to a slightly more upbeat tune. wine

Earthymama Thu 25-Apr-13 22:04:58

I like this; it is positive and up-lifting.

ThePathanKhansAmnesiac Thu 25-Apr-13 22:13:12

I love intelligent discussion from women, women in my family, the public eye, the women who post here.

Their experiences and views help me put my own reality of being a women in context, to see how important it is that women everywhere are treated equally and are able to make unilateral decision in regard to our reproduction,sexuality.

But honestly, I am fed the fuck up of somebody or other telling me how I should feel and what I should think.

If I didn,t know better I,d ask "iz it coz I is a woman".

WilsonFrickett Thu 25-Apr-13 23:09:22

Meh. it's a teensy bit Euro-central feminist-lite, isnt it? All very jolly and all that, but what with trafficking, abuse, fgm, young women being denied an education in many, many countries, shouldn't we be getting angry rather than awesome?

ThePathanKhansAmnesiac Thu 25-Apr-13 23:14:52

I think you just summed it up perfectly for me wilson.

WilsonFrickett Thu 25-Apr-13 23:19:54

And of course none of the points (apart perhaps from 3) would trouble the menz ThePathan confused

amazingface Thu 25-Apr-13 23:36:47

I like Hadley's journalism very much but I'm close to screaming at the word 'awesome'. I hate seeing this word (see also: kick-ass!) applied to how women should be or how they should be portrayed in the media. I can't explain this really, maybe it's just too jolly and unspecific and cutesy, but it's a personal pet peeve.

For me what's missing is a housework rule/topic. Fucking relentless housework and constant cleaning, which almost everyone (men & women) hates and is bored by, but which is almost always left, in the end, to fall on women. (can you tell what kind of evening I've had?)

Really liked Hadley's summation of motherhood at number 4, though smile The book sounds very interesting.

BasilBabyEater Fri 26-Apr-13 00:08:03


SkaterGrrrrl Fri 26-Apr-13 02:34:32

Would like to read the book. Well put.

butterflyexperience Fri 26-Apr-13 06:30:16

I like smile

seeker Fri 26-Apr-13 06:31:25

I'd like to see something along the lines of just because a woman chooses to do something it doesn't make it a feminist choice. Can't think of a wording - I'll come back later.

WidowWadman Fri 26-Apr-13 07:02:09

"Meh. it's a teensy bit Euro-central feminist-lite, isnt it? All very jolly and all that, but what with trafficking, abuse, fgm, young women being denied an education in many, many countries, shouldn't we be getting angry rather than awesome?"

Do you have to always include trafficking, abuse, fgm etc, to validate what you write about things affecting women?

Yes, it's white middle class euro-centric. But since no-one says that this book is the be all and end all of all feminist writing, I think it's forgivable. H

Also this book, like Moran's book attracts readers who would probably not touch the more serious things yet.

seeker Fri 26-Apr-13 07:09:53

"Do you have to always include trafficking, abuse, fgm etc, to validate what you write about things affecting women?"

I think you do at least need to nod in that direction if you are writing generalized "rules" of feminism. The problem with many "isms" is they become the preserve of comfortable first world professionals. A reminder that life is very different for much of the world is always salutary.

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