Friday afternoon ramblings but mostly a sincere thank you to you lot.(11 Posts)
Something was said in a meeting today, nothing new, but it left me a bit adrift for a while as it’s happening more and more. Basically small talk between a GP, solicitors, an accountant and a social worker prior to a meeting commencing – all male except me. The weather chat had been had and there was some discussion about one of the men going to watch his son playing football and he turned to me and asked if how many children I have. I replied that I had none and his immediate response was ‘what a shame, but at least you’ve done well in your career’. I had no response to that and then immediately worried that I should have had some response.
My colleagues have advised that I should have come out with the standard I have a dog/I like my life as it is/I have other caring responsibilities/the world’s overpopulated/I don’t like children response/I can’t have children etc etc but I don’t see why I should have to justify it. The only reason I don’t have children is because I’ve never wanted one of my own.
Like I said above, it’s happening more and more, and it’s frustrating that my fertile life is bookended by judgements from other people. Condemnation for getting pregnant at 17, condemnation for remaining child free at 40ish. As much as I get that motherhood is something worthy for most and still the norm for the majority of women, I’ve had a life in the intervening years and numerous roles as daughter, girlfriend, niece, aunt, cousin, friend, employee, employer but it appears that none of them carry any weight unless I’ve added another human to society. I could be the most feckless, irresponsible mother ever to walk the earth and would be judged for that but I’m judged as someone less than even that.
Which brings me to power (don't ask how I got there, it's a Friday afternoon and I was pissed off). Men, and I mean as a class, and obviously, not all men as individuals, seem to need women to say yes in order to make sense of society. Yes to needing them, yes to sexual relationships with them, yes to tending to them, yes to providing their children, yes to having them as the stronger ones, yes to them having the authority role, yes to being the decision maker, yes, yes bloody yes.
And when a woman says no to any of the above, she’s taking back power. It’s liberating but confusing. It's why men don't quite know what to do with me. It still doesn’t protect me from violence, abuse or sexism but it lessens the odds. But up until that meeting today, I didn't know how to use that power.
Which brings me back to my opening anecdote. My sense of power as a woman is, I think, very different to a man’s. It is simply power for me, it’s not to be used over anyone, it’s not a weapon, it’s simply a tool that allows me freedom and responsibility. I don’t need to reply with a cutting comment, I don’t need to apologise for my choices or justify them. I simply need to recognise that their comments can do me no harm as they carry no weight. Women do men no harm simply by having power. So I’m going to use that power. Not to harm men but to undo harm to women.
From today I’m practising positive discrimination, as a woman and as an employer. My feminism is no longer about men but entirely about women, women who don’t have a voice, women who don’t have power, women who don’t have my advantages. I'm going to put them first each and every time and no longer apologise for it. I'm going to make each and every woman in my life matter in some way, every day.
So thank you - to everyone who posts here who got there before me, those of you who are already doing it in real life and online. You've opened my eyes and given me strength. You've given me pause, you've made me question, you've made me angry and sad in equal measure but I admire every one of you. Thank you.
What a completely brilliant post. Can't wait to see where it leads you.
I really enjoyed reading that. It made me think of films where there is a climactic revolutionary scene and someone like Vivien Leigh or Meryl Streep stands firm against a back-drop of chaos.
Message withdrawn at poster's request.
What do you mean you are going to "start" putting women first ? Eh ? Eh ?
You have already seriously impressed me with your posts on here that absolutely do that in a constructive and articulate way
Regarding that comment, there is no smart retort required. A raised eyebrow would be all it deserved.
Very thought provoking!
as for a retort what about something even more silly, rude and personal, like 'what a shame you're going bald...oh well at least you dont have a big nose'
childish of me I know
I notice the framing of the question
not 'do you have children?'
'how many children do you have?'
lets you know straight away that 'none' is not an acceptable answer
Love your post OP, I've bookmarked this page so I can come back and read your beautifully articulated thoughts again and again. Thank you.
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