Feminism Is Not A Tickbox
There are many good men in this world who claim to be feminists, who claim to respect women and strive, in their own way, to fight for women’s rights alongside them. However, I have yet to meet a man who actually ‘gets’ it. It is not in the big gestures, promotions, and declarations of respect. Most of these areas are like moving particles gravitating towards the magnet of equal status and pay in the professional domain or a conversation touching on domestic duties.
Women, Choices and Comparisons
There is, unfortunately, a deep core of attitude that permeates society and is the institutionalised patriarchy that underlies every expectation, conversation or action. All too often equality is measured against male standards. Pay women the same as men; give women positions of power like the men; give women a day off from chores by doing the dishes once a week.
How about an alternative version, where women do not want what men have? Where they make their own individual choices that may differ from male expectations? Then, on choosing an alternative path, they are valued and respected for what they are and what they bring, rather than having to face comparison for not ‘achieving’ in the same way. Let women define their own version of success.
You Don’t Have To Step Into My Shoes
Worse still, is when a man attempts to put himself in a woman’s shoes in any given situation and assume that he can make a judgement based on what he would feel. Undeniably, that is impossible because he has never been a woman, in a woman’s role, with women’s history and the deep-rooted emotional triggers that exist because of that very history, experience and conditioning. This conditioning is like DNA that has passed down through generations of women, but we now know that DNA can be changed. According to epigenetic theory ‘DNA can be altered through magnetic fields, heart coherence, positive mental states and intention. Top scientists around the world agree: genetic determinism is a flawed theory.’* (I just had to put that out there).
This does, sadly, confuse our male friends however, my point is: occasionally, we should not attempt to put ourselves in another’s shoes, to understand. There are times when a person simply needs to be believed and trusted, not understood. It is OK to say ‘I don’t get it … but I trust that what you say is real. I won’t judge you. I won’t try to fix you. I have your back’
‘‘I am a woman with thoughts and questions and shit to say. I say if I'm beautiful. I say if I'm strong. You will not determine my story–I will’’
Still Learning at Fifty
There has been much written on diversity and inclusion lately on Instagram and on blog posts. I look to see what I am asked to do to help, but refrain from commenting or preaching for fear of trying to appear that I totally understand. Coming from a place of privilege where the worst I encountered was being teased in the playground for being Polish, I couldn’t possibly be so presumptuous as to claim an understanding by proxy.
It has taken much thought and soul searching to get my ass off its organic cotton cushion and accept that there are some situations that I don’t have a right to understand, just as there are people who will not have the right to understand me – not only as a woman, but as an individual.
All that we can do, as decent human beings, is to question assumptions and have each other’s backs. It is not always about saying ‘I hear you’ but ‘I am listening…’