Monday, March 11, 2013

Pink is a feminist issue (apparently)

The Sunday Times Style magazine at the weekend reminded me that there was something I had to write. 

The other week I put up a lighthearted, tongue in cheek post about 10 things they should tell you about having a girl. The list included warnings about them being obsessed with the colour pink, a love of glitter and making sure that at all times all of their barbies were naked. 

However it seems that the intended humour of my post was bypassed by some, and I was to learn that the fact that my own daughter liked all of these things meant that I had in fact forced her into a stereotype that belittles women. 

'Disgusting!' said one commentator (who went on to call my daughter 'a complete and total twit'

'I'm gagging!' fumed another. 

Another likened my form of sexism to 'racist jokes, sexual harassment, using the N-word, and date rape'

Erm...but I...

The next told me that I should really be ashamed of myself. 

And the next ordered  'Let's not conform to Disney, people. Little girls don't all love pink, princesses and sparkle.'


Well after all that I thought I better pour myself a stiff drink and find out what it was that I had got so wrong with this parenting lark. 

As it turned out all these lovely ladies had found my blog via a post on a 'Being Feminist' Facebook group. 

Someone had kindly put a link to my blog post with the words 'Oh dear' - and of course they all came running over to show their outrage that I had a daughter that liked being bossy and dressed herself like a My Little Pony. 

As it turned out the worst of the comments were kept on Facebook...

'I threw up in my mouth a little...but it's no wonder her girls will be encased in pink and buried under glitter and barbies, she calls them "princesses" on the very first sentence. She's the one who'll probably have a hissy fit if her girls ever pick a blue dress..'

'What a crock of complete horseshit.'

'Highly offensive and just plain ignorant.'

'So sad and disgusting.'

And my personal favourite:

'Kate sounds like a boring bastard doesn't she?


Nice huh? 

Which brings me back to the Sunday Times... The article asked the question 'If feminism is so cool, why are British women going backwards?

My question back is 'Is it really cool?' Because I'm not so sure. If some of the most forthright feminist folk around are acting like I've just described, who on earth would want to be associated with them?

Last year Netmums surveyed 1300 women 'to find out what it is like to be a woman in the UK today and to find out what feminism means to both girls and women living in the UK in 2012.'

Only 1 in 7 (or 14%) of women called themselves a 'Feminist' - with younger women least likely to.

(Only 9% of those aged 25 to 29 identified with it and only 8% of women aged 20 to 24)

And yet 41% claimed UK society was 'still a man's world'.

Go figure.

To me that tells us that the word 'Feminist' has lost it's meaning. There is so much baggage and 'not coolness' associated with it many women don't want to associate themselves with it. But really all it actually means is 'equal'.

Do you think you are equal to a man? Yes. Then you are a feminist. 

But how do you reclaim a word that has been and continues to be so battered and bullied by the very people who say are it's protectors?

Being a feminist is not about highlights or shaved heads, it is not about short skirts or dungarees, it is not about being a SAHM or an office mum, it is not about burning bra's or buying botox and it is not about little girls who like to dress in pink and pretend to be princesses - it's simply about being equal. 

Equal. Equal to men but equal to each other also. And if the next generation of little girls are taught that you never know - they might actually make it happen. 

But I'd like to wrap up this post with the wise words of Mummy Barrow whose comment thankfully tops the list of 60 that my original 'Girls' post received:

'I always think it is a shame when so called feminists attack other women. They feel it appropriate to be rude and offensive to somebody they have never met. Just because one of their friends posted in a Facebook group and said "ooh look at this", all sat there being vile and then came here to launch an attack.
If that is what feminism is about well, count me out quite frankly.
I have two girls and as much as I didn't stereotype them at the end of the day, given a choice, they wanted pink. They wanted Barbie. They wanted net princess drapes over their beds. Do I tell them no and demand they have blue and grow balls?
No. As a mother I respect THEIR wishes. THEIR opinions. I support what THEY want and I go with it.
Not ram my opinions onto them.
And I teach them that bullying other women for their thoughts and opinions is wrong and just that. Bullying.'

If only we had a feminist manifesto that made members sign up to all that. THEN feminism in the 21st Century might have a fighting chance. 

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