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God I never worried about this when I was 21

(46 Posts)
rubberglove Fri 21-Sep-12 21:58:55

Did you? Were you really aware of feminist theory when you were a young un?

LastMangoInParis Fri 21-Sep-12 22:05:05

Not really aware, no. But had some idea...
Actually, even then I think I had some idea that I'd need more life experience to have a lived understanding. That sounds proper wanky, perhaps, but it's how it is and was, and I'm fine with that.

MousyMouse Fri 21-Sep-12 22:07:00

no, never.
when I was young I was so sure nothing would be in my way and the world was just perfect apart from carrot style jeans

Nagoo Fri 21-Sep-12 22:10:24


I did a gender studies degree.

madwomanintheattic Fri 21-Sep-12 22:23:41

At 21 I was trying to persuade the Marines to ditch their single sex requirements so that I could prove women were capable of passing the course.

They were too fraidy.

So I joined a different branch of the military and got given a secondary duty of babysitting coordinator, by virtue of my gender. And when I whupped the men's arses in physical training I was accused of cheating. And I had to leave formal events at a particular time in the evening, so that the menfolk could smoke cigars and play rugby in the bar. I'm not 110, this was in the 1990's.

That said, when I eventually left and went back to uni as a mature student, it was chock full of 21yos who believed that the world was an equal place. Even the women. I nearly died of shock and gave a huge lecture to the utter bemusement of the instructor who was attempting to broach a discussion about gender equality.

So I think it depends a lot on how much actual honest to goodness sex based discrimination you have been faced with. If you have never tried to do anything other than toe a gender- scribed line, then life is going to look pretty rosy.

Of course, most women get it writ large with the baby thang.

I didn't give a rat's arse about the theory when I was 21. I was more concerned with the reality.

LastMangoInParis Fri 21-Sep-12 22:37:03

madwoman you are spot on WRT 'gender-scribed line'.
That said, I think it takes fairly spectacular insight and/or self-confidence to challenge discrimination without the back up and support and awareness that comes from real discussion of feminist theory.

MySpanielHell Fri 21-Sep-12 22:37:44

I don't think there's a particular age when people are more interested in equality. It just depends on the person, and often who their peer group is. Sometimes people aren't comfortable speaking up about issues anyway.

Not sure I'm 100% up on feminist theory at thirty-seven, but...

...from maybe the youngest I can remember, it became clear to me that women were getting a crappier deal in the fairy tales I was reading than the men did.

I remember Princess Leia being the first woman I saw on film who was in any way feisty or self-sufficient.

And I read The Female Eunuch in our university library at about 19-20 (when I was supposed to be studying something completely different! grin), Beauty Myth around the same time. Confirmed my instinct that there were lots of ways to carve out a niche as a woman.

(Fair play to you, madwoman, I have worked in male dominated environments but I think you've written the book on it there!)

TeiTetua Fri 21-Sep-12 22:42:10

By the time I was 21 I'd read The Feminine Mystique. 'Twas a while ago.

DioneTheDiabolist Fri 21-Sep-12 22:51:17

I have always been aware of feminist issues. I am only more worried now than I was when I was 21 because I have a child. I think that this is natural.

EatsBrainsAndLeaves Fri 21-Sep-12 23:13:23

Not of feminist theories no. Wanted to be equal to men though. But I have come across very young radical feminists online - youngest 15 years of age.

SuperB0F Fri 21-Sep-12 23:15:51

I was well into all by about 19. I don't think things have got much better, tbh. In many ways, they're worse.

TheDoctrineOfSnatch Fri 21-Sep-12 23:26:13

Hmm I didn't really have any theory but had "practice" (taking part in uni campaigns etc) at 21.

I'm in awe of madwoman, that sounds amazing.

itsthequietones Fri 21-Sep-12 23:27:33

Not so much the theory, but I knew about inequality. At 18 I pulled someone up when they introduced me as 'This is John's girlfriend, itsthequietones' - I remember saying that I didn't belong to him and I wasn't his property and that I prefered being introduced as myself thank you very much.
Unfortunately I lost it along the way, back now though.

KRITIQ Fri 21-Sep-12 23:59:58

Can't actually remember a time when I wasn't a feminist, even though I probably didn't really encounter the word until my teens. First started delving into feminist theory probably around age 17, when I campaigned for the Equal Rights Amendment. I was probably the only person within about a 50 mile radius of my home town that supported it, but I did my best smile Sadly, it was finally quashed just over 30 years ago which means that sexual equality is still not included in the US Constitution. sad

SomersetONeil Sat 22-Sep-12 02:20:18

Yes, I was a student then - isn't that when everyone's at their most right on?! grin

I went to an all girls' school and did a couple of women's studies courses at university, so it's been A Thing for me. Had all the middle class trappings and only nice, decent men in my life, but find looking at the world through a feminist lens fascinating. And other people's vehement denial of all the issues feminist find interesting equally as fascinating.

weegiemum Sat 22-Sep-12 02:22:49

Yep. Took a "geography and Gender" course as part of my senior honours year.

Very glad I did!!

comixminx Sat 22-Sep-12 03:37:17

KRITIQ, am shock that the US doesn't have equality enshrined in the constitution - the idea that the cited amendment could be proposed and only nearly pass is very sad...

rosy71 Sat 22-Sep-12 16:42:18

I did "Themes in the History and Sociology of Gender" as part of my degree so, yes, I was aware of feminist theory at 21.

bigmouthstrikesagain Sat 22-Sep-12 16:47:41

Yep did politics alevel and degree in government including course in feminism and did my dissertation on Mary Wollstonecraft ... Even wore dungaree's wink I am probably less earnest about it all now though.

BertieBotts Sat 22-Sep-12 20:56:27

I am 21 grin

Well not quite. I'm 24 now, but I've been around mumsnet for almost four years now (shock) and have been avidly reading and posting since the topic was first created.

ChangingWoman Sat 22-Sep-12 21:11:41

Yes, but I don't think I fully grasped some of it until I had a bit more life experience to hang it on. I certainly didn't realise how pervasive and powerful sexism still was in the world directly around me until I was older than 21. At that age I still naively thought it was something which only applied to older generations and in distant countries...

CuttedUpPear Sat 22-Sep-12 21:14:12

Yes, massively. To the extent that I've felt let down by the lack of feminism in the world these last twenty years.
I feel that Madgedonna set us all back in the first place and it went downhill from there - selling herself through sex.

I'm 47 btw.

LurcioLovesFrankie Sat 22-Sep-12 21:17:46

I was already a feminist at primary school when I realised that boys got to play cricket and I was stuck with sodding netball, and I had to fight tooth and nail to go to the railway museum with the boys on a school day to York! By 18 I'd read the Female Eunuch. Mind you, with my mum, I don't think I could have turned out any other way (memorable quotes include "ironing is a feminist issue: feminists don't" and "if men got pregnant, abortion would be a sacrament"). Come to think of it, I sometimes think my dad is a more radical feminist than I am - he certainly has no illusions about the patriarchy.

vesela Sat 22-Sep-12 21:19:14

I was a feminist when I was 21 (in 1989) but in a pretty general way - I don't remember talking about it very much, or indeed worrying a lot, beyond the fear of rape. When I was 22 I moved to the Czech Republic and had a few feminist friends, and I remember going to a couple of meetings. Then it gradually went on the backburner compared to other things (including ordinary politics).

It was only when I had a daughter that I started to feel actual worry (from the 20-week scan onwards). I felt as if all I could see around me were girls growing up with way more limitations and stresses than we'd had.

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