So, this morning, between watching the penultimate episode of Spooks and switching off the telly to go back to work, I happened to catch a woman I didn’t recognise on ‘This Morning’ saying “I’m not one of those women’s libbers”. I watched another few minutes, it was on one of those vital issues of the day about whether a lady likes a gentleman to offer her a seat in the tube/train (dear god, who cares? it’s not 1973 which was the last time a) this question and b) that phrase were in current use.)
However, just in case anyone is still unsure, here’s the answer – if I’m old, ill, obviously pregnant, carrying three children (all of whom can sit on my lap and none of whom needs a seat of their own when there are needier/older people standing btw!) – then yes, thank you, I’ll be grateful for ANYONE’s seat, man, woman, dog.
But the thing is, this woman IS a ‘women’s libber’, she just doesn’t know it.
here’s why :
– the right to write in her own name (unlike those Brontes and many before)
– the right to vote (obvious I’d have thought, but let’s have it here anyway)
– the right to make her own reproductive choices (contraception and abortion rights have always been and still are fundamentals of ‘women’s lib’)
– the right not to have to marry the man who raped her (see Leviticus)
– the right to wear what the hell she wants, be it trousers or miniskirts or a bridal gown or masses of makeup or none at all or full goth attire (even though the actual Goths were famously blonde, but there you go)
– the right to drive
– the right to work outside the home
– the right to call the work she does inside the home ‘work’
– the right to have a baby ‘out of wedlock’ and the right to keep that baby if she so chooses
– the right to live alone and not be accused of being a witch for doing so
– the right to buy a home in her own name (not her husband’s or her father’s)
– the right to have a credit card in her own name
– the right to expect the same pay for the same job as a man
– the rights to maternity pay/leave; paternity pay/leave
– the right to marry (or not marry) who she wants not who her family want her to
– the right to keep her child when her husband or partner leaves her
– the right to keep her child when she leaves a marriage or relationship
– the right to request (and hopefully get!) child support from the man who fathers her child
– the right to write/direct/produce whatever theatre/tv/film she likes (though looking at the listings in the Radio Times, the West End and movie magazines, it might be hard to believe)
– the right to say actually, how well I make a Victoria sponge isn’t really the best judge of my worth as a woman (I prefer my orange polenta cake …)
– the ability to tell her sons that they have as many choices to be as many different things in their future as her daughters … that the old fashioned roles for boys and girls do not have to be followed unless they’d like to, that boys can be nurses and cooks and primary school teachers and girls can be doctors and chemists and head teachers and politicians, that ‘women’s lib’ has been hugely liberating for men too, freeing them from the absurdly constraining gender-imposed roles to be who they want to be as well.
– the right to support all those other women (and men) in all those countries where little or none of the above applies.
There are, of course, so many more. Feel free to add your own favourites in the comments.
Love it Stella, you’ve said it all.
How did you get out of the kitchen long enough to write this? 🙂 Only kidding of course. Great piece.
well, the cake was in the oven and the hotpot was simmering, so I thought I could pop online just long enough …
the right not to understand the offside rule and to steal your partner’s share of the duvet
yup, for all (& no) genders.
This is great, I also stumbled upon that section of this morning and its baffling that it was something to talk about on national tele.
Someone messaged in saying something to the effect that feminism has ruined chivalry and they feel sorry for men, not know what to do.
Absolutely, though I’m pretty sure the right to live alone and not be called a witch is more in abeyance than most. The right to walk around naked without being jumped on (unless she wants to be).
I’ll be a post-feminist in a post-patriarchy!
great blog i actually saw a male midwive 18 years ago when my daughter was born! x
there is still a long way to go im still awaiting child support and my
daughter has now grown up and started university. At the reading
group i hosted yesterday we discussed ‘wedlock’ by Wendy Moore and were all appalled by the brutality shown to woman in regency times
In the 1960s, married women could not have an operation on any organ of reproduction without her husband giving his consent in writing and witnessed by the surgeon. I witnessed this in Liverpool UK.
That is shocking. Horrible.
The right to be able to press charges against your husband if he rapes you. That’s a surprisingly recent one. Until that case, forced sex in marriage was not classed as rape.
yes, absolutely. thank you for reminding me of that one.
Loved hearing you at Greenbelt in August. I reckon anyone saying ‘I’m not an X, but…’ is by definition one of what they are saying they’re not. As in, ‘I’m not a racist, but…’ followed by a racist observation.
You can take these privileges for granted and therefore legitimately claim you aren’t a feminist. What do we do to stop female circumcision, lap dancing clubs, etc..?
true. but I think it’s always worth reminding ourselves how far we’ve come. as for dealing with the other forms of exploitation of women from FGM to sex work, well, that’s talk and education and legislation AND hope – right?
absolutely. we can celebrate what has been done so far, and feel inspired to do so much more. getting more women into chief executive positions would be fantastic (the 30% club), raising awareness of forced marriages and religious/cultural beliefs that oppress women is more. Let’s do it!
The right to be a bishop!
hah – yes!
The fight isn’t over either. One day, because of those ‘women’s libbers’ like me that continue to fight for her, she will have
– the right to not be objectified or have her worth based solely on the way she looks
– and, most importantly, one day she might even stop judging her own worth based on how she measures up to a manufactured ideal idea of what a woman should look like!
Things she will have that she doesn’t have today.
yes. all that. thank you.
You know reading this list actually brought a lump to my throat. A really important reminder of all we have – and why it’s so worth continuing to question existing attitudes and push for further change. x