When I was younger Feminist was to me a dirty word, I didn’t want anything to do with those hairy armpit, bra burning activists, I thought being a feminist separated me more from males then making me equal, we were being given separate categories for everything, literary awards, ect, as if we weren’t able to hold our own against men. I was a tomboy and didn’t want to be associated with anything remotely feminine, I would put up a fuse every time my mom made me wear a dress to church, I’d rather learn how to ride a skateboard then sit in the grass making daisy chains, and Batman was by far superior to My Little Pony, I wouldn’t even listen to female musicians or read female authors, but I eventually discovered Patti Smith and Joni Mitchell, Sylvia Plath and Toni Morrison and realized that being a girl didn’t mean having to wear baby doll dresses, spending 2 hours doing your hair and make-up and talking about how to ‘catch’ men.
I still like to think of myself as non-gender specific, I try to avoid being categorized because of my sex, perhaps because of experiences I’ve had where I’ve felt I had to play a certain role. Being told in Eastern Europe by a male friend I was meeting, that “I may be a little late, but you’re a girl, so just do some shopping,” or being ordered to make the tea when hanging out with my male friends, or going to a church where women had to wear head coverings and weren’t allowed to speak in the service. Although, I will admit that I do sometimes take advantage of my gender. I tell myself, if they’re going to be chauvinistic anyways, I may as well benefit from it, (actually I’m just a cheap bastard) as I put on my push-up bra and giggle at lame jokes in hopes of a free drink, ‘it doesn’t mean I have to sleep with the guy, not unless I want to.’
I have been seeing many articles lately addressing women in the work force and how there are certain factors hindering our progress. The great wage divide is no longer shrinking, there are still a disproportionate amount of men in top positions. Whenever we see a women that has made it to the top, we feel a great sense of pride, it still isn’t the norm, but an achievement. According to an article in the Globe and Mail, women are less likely to strive for those top positions, until they feel they’ve perfected all the necessary skills, where as men are more likely to strive for positions even if they are only partially qualified. Is this a female trait, or is this something drilled into us at a young age? Men are often considered brave and brash, while women are rational and calculating. Also, women are often left behind because of bearing children, which takes women out of the workforce for a considerable amount of time, and when they return, they have trouble catching up with men who are able to devote their lives to their work. Women have to do some incredible juggling in order to remain competitive or may even sacrifice having a family. Although there are some countries where there is paternity as well as maternity leave, dividing the responsibility of raising the child, and then there’s Germany who are wanting to provide women financial assistance in order to encourage them to be stay at home housewife.
Growing up in the 90’s and noughties, I have taken for granted all the progress Feminists have achieved, and although I have no intention of working my way up the corporate ladder, it is apparent that the women’s lib movement isn’t over. Blatantly obvious if you look at the middle east or many other countries that are still backwardly sexist, but even here in the West it is evident that we are still not at the idealized level of equality. I feel this is partially residue chauvinistic thought, but also a position women put themselves in, that it will ultimately be up to us to prove that we are a force to be reckoned with.