I’m a feminist not a lesbian

Last week, I was invited to speak at Farnborough Ladies Night because one of the organisers had seen an article by the Fleet Courier that the book I co-wrote Immediate Response had been a given a medal by The Military Writers Society of America. I am not sure what the ladies were expecting but I think they were expecting something a little more twee than me. Perhaps, they were expecting a demure, domestic goddess, who would proudly regale tales of awe inspiring derring-do and keeping the homes fire burning. Instead, they were presented with my candid analysis of how I constantly battle with my husband to pull his weight more in the house.

My opening line was ‘I am a feminist not a lesbian.’The ladies, whose ages ranged from 50 years old to 80 years old, engaged immediately. I could see them lift their droopy lids and either bristle, or giggle. I had two camps – those that looked at me with complete disgust and those who chuckled in naughty delight. The challenge that I often face when I proudly out myself as a card carrying feminazi is defining what I mean. Especially because the common conception of feminism is that you are a bean eating, carpet munching, communist. (No offence intended to those of feminist lesbian communist vegetarian persuasion – it’s just that I am not that way inclined) Hence my opening gambit.

It’s tough because I haven’t created an academic thesis to qualify this bold and brash declaration. But what I truly seek is freedom. Freedom to do what I want when I want. Genuine independence. This I don’t have through my own misguided choices. Shall I tell you who I blame? To quote the popular film, Pretty Woman – “Cinder-fucking-rella”. I walked into the Cinderella honey trap and stupidly fell in love, got married and had children. Doh!! Bahm, I sold my independence down the river.

I feel like recently I have had an epiphany. I want my freedom back. I want my independence. I want to do what I want when I want. Mission on. The reason why it is a mission because obviously there are people in my life and they are part of what I want. I don’t mean that I want to run away and abandon my choices that is not what want. It’s about finding the right balance between my own needs and those to whom I am responsible.

I think I gave up my freedom too easily. It was easier to take on the burden of responsibility and do-it-myself. In fact, I closed my talk to the Farnborough ladies with some observations on my 8 year old son, The Grenade. I said that I was just going to have to apologise to all his girlfriends because his will to do what he wants is often greater than mine to prevent him behaving in a burping, farting, slobbing in a gregariously male way. The note would read ‘I am sorry. I did my best. Please don’t hold it against me. Honestly, it’s not my fault.’

Clearly, in my younger years I blamed my mother-in-law for ruining Hagar and turning him into the flawed man that walks alongside the other flawed men in the species. However, now I am a mother to a son I realise that I have been very disloyal to his mother. It’s not her fault. I was blaming the wrong parent – it was his dad’s fault!! Mwah ha ha! I am only joking. It’s not their fault really.

So my mission is on. Wish me luck. Thank you Farnborough ladies for what was a very entertaining evening. It was great to share and learn that the trials and tribulations that I face that you too have a faced and that although there have been changes the majority of women are still slaves to domesticity.

I think I am back in the blogosphere – I have missed it so much. Blogging gives me a great sense of freedom. It’s my blog and I can write what I want to. I am back online. Toys R Us toy testing begins in earnest although my box of toys was delivered to the wrong address so what do you think my chances are of seeing that box of goodies again?

14 Comments

  1. Another good read for you – The Sadeian Woman by Angela Carter. She was a fabulous writer: feminist, humane and wickedly funny. Welcome back.

  2. So you want to do what you want, when you want. Just one little point…. I never enjoyed my weekends so much until I started working full time. Maybe, it’s the comparison of the two. Balance?

  3. Glad to have you back! Please don’t give up on the Grenade. My husband’s brothers and he were housetrained by his irish mother and my husband cleans like a dream now. You must offer the Grenade incentives to do housework so that his wife will thank you eventually.

  4. Ha ha yes it’s funny isn’t it how society has managed to persuade women that the fact men often don’t treat them with respect (by doing their fair share of domestic work for example) is our fault too. Along with everything else. That’s patriarchy for you.

    I really like your blog. I don’t always agree with what you say but there is something quite special about your writing I think. Always an interesting perspective. I think you’re really talented.

  5. I’m a feminist not a lesbian – why do you feel the need to justify your political/ideological standpoint and clearly identify your sexuality? We’re not in the 60s and 70s now – who cares if you’re straight or gay – you shouldn’t. You don’t need define yourself by your sexuality – whether you’re a feminist or not.

    1. Ha ha! I don’t care whether I am straight or gay. Alas we might as well be in the 60s and 70s in some parts of Britain. Also I meant it more as a provocative, slightly humorous observation on social prejudices and stereotyping rather than a serious statement about my sexual preference. It was meant to be light hearted. I am a feminist with a sense of humour 🙂

  6. yes BUT do you not think that a whole host of men think the same thing? That while i’ve too fallen into the honey trap of being stuck at home while my husband earns the money, he is not thinking “but I want to be free to do what I want, not just for everyone else”. You’re absolutely right that the status gender quo is still ever present in society today, but it’s not just us women that would like things differently. What i can’t subscribe to is the idea that, because we were subjugated for so long, we’re entitled to demand whatever we want. (not that i’m saying this is you). is anyone truly independent?

    Great post. Oh how i love the debate, and the freedom to change my opinion if you can persuade me!

    x

    1. Of course, men have their challenges too but the majority of inequality and repression affects women. Interestingly, women’s innate sense of fairness means that often I hear women say ‘some men have issues too’. Unfortunately, evolution dictates that foundations come from male rule and male instigated legislation. This is because the majority of power brokers (politicians) are men. I think the advent of machines and the digital age creates a more equal society because the division of labour doesn’t require women to be the ones that run the household.

      In our current society it comes down to cashflow – who holds the purse strings. On some level if you have money then you have freedom and independence to make your own choices without having to ask for permission. But how many women, sacrifice their careers, their pensions to raise their children, while men abuse their trust by taking them for granted and shitting all over them.

      I am just pissed off because I didn’t think it through enough. Freedom has always been so important to me and yet I blindly walked into the trap like a fool.

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