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is your life as feminist as your conviction?

(40 Posts)
ThePosieParker Fri 26-Aug-11 15:02:18

And if not how do you justify yourself?
Going through conflict right now and finding it pretty tough. My values are constantly 'piv'ed grin at the much they're not actual.

LRDTheFeministDragon Fri 26-Aug-11 15:26:19

I don't see the problem with having high ideals as long as you try to live up to them.

There are lots of things in my life that are not very feminist. I got married in a ridiculously sexist ceremony last year, which I didn't believe a word of; I've failed to walk out of nasty misogynistic work environments; I don't spit feathers when my 87-year-old neighbour calls me 'missus'.

There's a few things I've done that I'm actively ashamed of - I used to think porn culture was very cool hmm; I let a misogynistic bastard walk all over me and steal my money.

All you can do IMO is see yourself as a bit of a work-in-progress ... decide what you have the energy to do, and do that. Don't judge other people too harshly if you think they're not perfect feminists - you're not.

Sorry, that's all a bit rambly and vague ... is there something bothering you particularly, posie?

minipie Fri 26-Aug-11 15:45:35

What is a feminist life though?

I try to ensure that I am not forced into doing anything/taking on any particular role "just because I am a woman" and likewise that my DH is not forced into a particular role "just because he is a man". And I try to challenge sexist assumptions as and when I see/hear them. Does that count?

However, I am married, wore a white dress, was walked up the aisle by my father, I wear heels (sometimes) and makeup (pretty much always). I intend to take ML whereas my DH will not take much paternity leave, I expect that he will become the main breadwinner and I will take more of a back seat work wise and take on more of the household responsibilities... But I don't see any of those as being incompatible with feminism because they are all my choices rather than anything I was forced into simply because of my gender.

(Oh and what does piv'd mean please ?)

MitchiestInge Fri 26-Aug-11 16:02:44

have not developed taste for clunge if that's what you mean though don't understand why therapists don't offer this, if it is still possible to be reprogrammed as hetero why not another way?

MitchiestInge Fri 26-Aug-11 16:03:16

think piv'd means fucked

ThePosieParker Fri 26-Aug-11 16:20:39

piv'd means fucked, but I thought it may be funny!!

I'm not worried about anyone else, just myself. I am thinking how I can justify it to myself, or rather if, in addition to my feelings, my morals/values are as important to be able to up[hold in a relationship. I come to this board and feel like a feminist and then turn around and feel like a failed feminist. Many of my relationship issues, which I bury, are deeply unfeminist.

minipie Fri 26-Aug-11 16:31:01

Hmm. I do think it's important for a relationship to be consistent with your values, for your own happiness. Otherwise you sort of end up feeling you're betraying yourself iyswim (not to mention giving a bad example to any DC).

But I don't think it makes you a failed feminist - because I think feminism is about beliefs rather than actions. I think it means you are not practising what you believe in, but it doesn't change the facts that your beliefs are feminist.

skrumle Fri 26-Aug-11 17:21:39

not really, no.

was thinking this the other day in terms of my mother compared to me. in some ways she's much more out there - she's always worked, she now has quite high flying jobs, she sued her local authority employer years ago for sex discrimination (and won), she is totally comfortable with the fact that she has the traditional "male" role in my parents' relationship. whereas i work locally for minimum wage (despite being higher qualified and with better experience years ago than my H), have no desperate desire to achieve in terms of employment and i believe that my relationship with my H works better when i force him to take on the traditional male role (i was main breadwinner for 2.5 years and he was a SAHP for a chunk of that time - did not work well at all!).

but my mum is much more concerned about "what people think" and conforms much more in that respect - she wasn't happy when i didn't take my H's name, she had a meltdown when i talked about giving DD my surname and DS my H's (they both have his name as i wasn't bothered enough to cope with her hysteria!), she wasn't happy when my H asked his best friend (a woman) to be his best man, etc, etc.

the one area i believe that i do manage to be pretty feminist is in raising my children - both of my kids have been brought up to play in whatever way they want, if everyone else gives them stereotypical toys i give them the opposite, if DD refuses to wear skirts while DS wants to wear a pink headband then that's fine.

UsingMainlySpoons Mon 29-Aug-11 19:29:07

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

margerykemp Mon 29-Aug-11 19:43:13

Being a 'perfect' feminist is hard work but being a 'perfect' woman is harder.

I dont feel any conflict with my feminist views when i wear make up etc but i hate that sometimes i have to keep my mouth shut or ill fall out with all my family and friends.

SardineQueen Mon 29-Aug-11 19:51:41

Hmm not really.

My relationship is good but maybe a reversal of usual roles than equal if I'm honest.

I try to avoid the worst stuff for my children and give the stories with positive female role models and that looks aren't the be-all and end-all.

I don't wear makeup or shave my legs or pits (at the mo) but I would if I felt like it, and also know that it's more laziness than any kind of statement as my looks are pretty reasonable without makeup and I'm fair.

When I give to charity I do tend to give to things that help women and children though.

I have worked for a fairly feminist organisation.

I go to the conference thingy (as do you!!!)

I natter on here

I sign petitions and have written to MP

I reckon that's good enough TBH. It's good enough for now.

I think that anything more is getting into the realms of opting out of socities norms to an extent that might be uncomfortable and require explanation, and while that's great for people who do it, I don't think it should be expected. And I don't think it is expected.

WillieWaggledagger Mon 29-Aug-11 20:04:45

relationship and housework split are good, but we don't yet have children, and i do notice a difference in our attitudes to housework

elsewhere... I work in a very family-friendly company (for men and women - lots of men leaving to pick up children or work at home with ill children, as much as women). also lots of women there, but noticeably not at the executive level. I don't come up against many anti-women's rights issues at work

I have signed petitions and written emails, but not been on any marches or part of any groups

i put my efforts into not damaging other women iyswim - in thought and deed and where I spend my money (this last is difficult). I also discuss things with dp who is a teacher in a boys' school so in a good position to sort out attitudes wink

I could do better I think, but have personal issues atm so am being selfish

SardineQueen Mon 29-Aug-11 20:14:00

I stood up for myself at work when I found out I was getting paid less than the men

Unfortunately I was pg at the time
And strangely they didn't agree to me going part time after mat leave and that was that

See the mistake I always make is thinking that organisations and things like that are fair. Not individuals, no, but organisations, especially large ones. Then when I find out they're not it always comes as a shock.

I am too logical really. If something doesn't make sense it doesn't occur to me that it might be the way it works IYSWIM

AliceWyrld Mon 29-Aug-11 20:15:26

We live in a society not of our own making, which means we have to do things to get by that make not be in line with our feminist beliefs. Our 'choices' are not freely made, no-ones are.

garlicnutter Mon 29-Aug-11 22:54:44

Yes, thanks, I do smile

I was driven to a very bad breakdown by a bullying boss and a head-fucking husband. However, I did get the boss fired and am pretty sure the husband left because I was insufficiently compliant.

There's a great deal wrong with me and my life; I am a work in progress and am proud of this fact. I can, however, say I live by my values.

OneOfTheBoys Mon 29-Aug-11 23:08:59

Yes and no

Have jettisoned my richer H as he was an unfaithful twat, despite having young kids, yet for many years we were equals in pay and housework. Otoh, am contemplating having some cosmetic work done to remove a couple of thread veins from my face, so clearly I am not comfortable in my own skin. I work in a male environment and challenge ingrained sexist attitudes a lot but with humour and mock shocked disbelief rather than seriously, as think that can effect change more, but wonder if that is just a cop out.

garlicnutter Mon 29-Aug-11 23:40:04

SardineQueen, do you mean you went back full-time or you didn't return? Did you get your equal pay award?

OOTB, I think the fact you register disapproval is more important than how you do it. Out of interest, though, what happens if you go "That was a really wanky/sexist/ignorant thing to say"? Or "Don't be a prat, you can get sued for that"?

I have been known to invert sexist comments back at the speaker. It's best to be sure there's someone else around who'll get it, though, as you often need support!

icedmuffin Mon 29-Aug-11 23:54:37

Well I find it really really really lonely being a feminist.

I think I am getting really very bitter about it. I studied politics and feminism - and how I wish I had thought more about finance.

I wish I had really thought more about just how damaging the unequal pay situation is - rather than just trying to work harder and smarter for every employer I had. I wish I had put myself first. I stupidly thought women could do anything if they worked hard at it.

I now realise that if I was richer I could help more women.

I have a wonderful DH but then all I do it seems is work long hours.

I hardly see my toddler. I stress out about money. I don't get to exercise.

I don't have many female friends. I don't have time to go to any baby or social groups. Actually I figure I don't have many friends at all.

My life is a 5am start and an 11pm go to bed. Today was the first weekday I have had off in 6 months. And that by the way is with my DH doing the majority of the household chores.

In the weekends I try play at being a mum and then have this stress out of getting everything ready for the next working week. I'm not ready for tomorrow. I will be up in 5 hours time.

I realised in the weekend that I really want to get pregnant but I'm not sure we can afford another baby and the biological clock is ticking. Then I got thinking that the length of time I have had at university has meant that I have had less time to establish myself career wise, meaning that I did not think through the consequences of having a baby later on.

I looked back at my expensive university fees this weekend and the fact that in my younger days I spend lots of money on consumerist rubbish to look good at work and so on and just got really mad and really sad.

What if I had been smarter and invested that money and saved it instead of buying make up and bags? I just thought what a complete idiot I was to actually contribute and participate in all that consumerist spending. I had to query why the hell I ended up with fees to study politics - how has that helped me?

I then also realised that my DH and I have always given freely our money to help others and it just seems very hard at the moment financially. I took voluntary redundancy to actually try help out situation and so I could spend some time with my baby, and now when looking for work I have encountered sexist interviewers after sexist interviewer.

I stupidly believed that I would be selected on talent and I had taken this approach when hiring others. I get especially mad about the women interviewers who go "so this is your first baby?". Yes I know it is illegal but complain and then the agents don't want to pass on any opportunities so it has been counter-productive personally to me that I have complained... even if it might help someone else.

My in-laws are actually very well off but they have never helped my DH financially and would not dream of helping him but want to come over and stay with us when they can. My MIL kicked out a female tenant from one of her properties when she had a disabled child and her partner left her.
I am so angry about inequality. My MIL basically contributed to this woman being left without a home. This MIL also said to me that she can not understand why a woman would need to be on a board of a company. Yes my DH and I let her know that she was sexist and we would not tolerate it - especially amongst our young son but I just feel about the fact that she is a relative. ALthough I am pleased that my DH does not share any of her sick views. Yes maybe the fact they never helped their son financially is a blessing - who knows.

I guess I am saying that to me, it is a lonely place to be. sad sad
Sometimes I think that maybe just maybe life would be easier if my DH could just earn more money and I could stay at home and see my child grow up and I hate myself when I think that.

As it is my son now is becoming more and more distant.
I am having to work incredibly long hours.
I need to look for another job so that causes more pressure.

We have no real family support. No friends seem to understand.
It is like this silent stress. I feel that I am not even noticed in society.
If I complained about my situation I would not be listened to at work, or by SAHM or I think by feminists. Myself DH and DS went to the slut walk march and I just felt really isolated from the participants. I did not fit in. I was not welcomed.

I am well aware that I can not have "child care" issues at work as that is a career limiting move. So my DH has to handle all of those days. Being in a new role I was careful not to be seen as the woman who needed time off work because it was contract work and I knew it would impact my chances of getting work. I have been to work after having zero sleep sometimes and forced myself to stay awake.

I don't know the answer. But I don't think society or feminism is the answer. I used to think I had a choice but now i think choices are only with people who have sufficient money. sad

garlicnutter Tue 30-Aug-11 00:32:06

Blimey, muffin, that is a hard life. No wonder you feel down sad

I must admit, I've often thought I should have leveraged my erotic capital (like that phrase? I don't!) when young to secure a wealthy lifestyle and a comfortable divorce settlement. As you say, I could have helped more people that way. But, fuck it, I couldn't countenance it then and I still couldn't, 35 years later.

I'm proud of the people I have helped, the advances I've contributed to, the examples I've set and the many things I've done. I'm extremely poor, unwell and lonesome <violin> now, but that isn't really down to politics or feminism.

I think you will be proud, too. You sound too darn knackered to find the time for that right now! Without wishing to offend, have you thought about cutting down, quitting or changing your job? You'll burn out at this rate.

You sound amazing smile It'd be a shame to drive all that talent to a mere cinder of its former glory ...

icedmuffin Tue 30-Aug-11 00:53:16

Garlic I am trying to find another job.

And yes I know feminism has not helped nor hindered my situation.
Actually the more I think about it feminism is pretty irrelevant in my life.

In reality what does it mean? Equal pay - well it doesn't really exist.

I do have a happy relationship with DH but I do wonder how much longer it can last. Yes I will burn out at this rate. I can not keep going. I can't see me making any friends while working these hours either.

Cutting down work won't work. We have pondered selling the house and taking what equity we can bit I know that would be a really stupid move and we would never get back on the housing ladder. So I would still be very stressed.

I do not want my son to have to work as hard as I and his father have had to.

Part of my motivation for working is so that he has choices open to him in his life.

Anyway now I had really go to bed. The panic of starting this week with only 3-4 hours sleep this morning is setting in.

The mad cycle will soon start.

snowmama Tue 30-Aug-11 06:12:27

icedmuffin, I would say you gave a pretty apt description of what is wrong with capitalism.

Garlicbutter is right, something has to give - and speaking as someone with a near identical schedule to yours I completely understand that it is hard to work out what that thing is. Without knowing any of the details of your life, I would ask can you get childminder/babysitter/aupair (delete as appropriate) help to support nursery pick ups, drop offs, sick days? Can you get a cleaner to help out a couple of hours a week? Do you make sure you don't bring work home at the weekend?

TPP, I don't know the background of your question, but it strongly reminded me, of me a few years ago(could be very different reasons why though). I can't claim to live a completely uncontradictory life from a feminist perspective, however before (when married etc) the disconnect between what I believed and what I lived was simply too large and it caused me distress. I now have control of my domestic life and my work life and find my interactions with family, friends, colleagues much braver, more productive and fundamentally feminist. That is not to say you would never find a contradiction...see above about doing silly hours.

Whatever your issue is now, are you able to think about what you believe, what you live and how you could bridge that gap (even if the answer is outrageous, give it due diligence).

tawrag Tue 30-Aug-11 07:00:59

I'd rather be poor than live life as icedmuffin does. Being an overwrought (and depressed) bread-winner is not what feminism is about. I agree with you, iced, that being a feminist and living up to your ideals (your way or a different way) is lonely. I find it so too and I have never had your kind of stress. It's the little things that count, like standing up for yourself as a full time mum because you think that's as important a job as any other. Just because it is usually unpaid it is unvalued. We have a long way to go, sisters.

OneOfTheBoys Tue 30-Aug-11 11:18:43

Garlicnutter, often sarcasm/humour is the weapon followed up by the serioius comment, as if you are funny or sharp it's respected and then your word carries more weight, although I do try to temper that with occasional acts of kindness! I do often though introduce feminist ideas and watch them wrestle with it grin There are other female colleagues who definitely use their sexuality to get what they want, but generally imo that comes back to bite them/at some point their views are ridden rough shod over.

Icedmuffin, that sound untenable (says one who sails pretty close to the wind with the long hours but have regular breaks to hold out for) - think you need to look for a sea-change asap, before your health forces one on you.

Hardgoing Tue 30-Aug-11 12:16:53

Icedmuffin, you sound close to exhaustion, you poor thing. I don't see the life you are living as very sustainable in the long-term, and certainly not feminist in that there is no benefit to you having a breakdown or collapsing through ill-health, man or woman. I think looking for a different job with more reasonable hours, sharing the work/homecare balance (is it possible for your husband to work more?), getting more help in, and also you sound very anxious, so not sleeping well. I might pop to the docs in your situation, or get someone to talk to (e.g counsellor or some way of relaxing). If you want to post more, do, it sounds like you are really in a pressure-cooker situation.

The most obvious way that my life is lived in a feminist way as opposed to my friends is that my husband and I genuinely have equal careers. He's prepared to move for my career, always supported me and believed I have a lot to offer in my chosen field. I do the same for him, and will consider moving/his next job. We have taken it in turns to stay home for each child, and take it in turns to advance our careers in-between all of that. Now, that sounds all very ideal, in reality there have been difficult times such as him being a stay at home dad and then trying to get back into the workplace, and sometimes the power dynamics have been a bit difficult as we struggle to see whose needs to prioritise (when we say both hit a needy period). I feel really sad when I read about women on MN whose partners clearly don't think they should WOH (on principle, not their choice) or only support their little part-time extra job, and devalue their skills and career (again, on principle, expecting them to move for them but would never do the same back). However, I also feel sad when I read Icedmuffin's post because working those hours and feeling estranged from your children is absolutely not a work/life balance to be promoted for women.

steamedtreaclesponge Tue 30-Aug-11 12:27:57

I think seeing my life as a work-in-progress is probably about right! I do wear make-up, heels, etc - that sort of conformity is quite hard to break out of. But I am quite active in feminism in that I belong to a group, write for a feminist magazine etc and I will pull people up on things. I always seem to end up having big debates about feminist issues wherever I am and I'm not scared to call people out on things if they're talking sexist rubbish.

My job, sadly, is not exactly the feminist ideal (I'm a PA at the moment) but I am working to find something that's more suited to my skills and level of education. It's tricky - I do feel like perhaps if I was a 'proper' feminist I'd be out there smashing glass ceilings but I don't really want a high-powered job.

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