I’m very grateful to all those women who threw themselves under the King’s horse, marched for suffrage, burned their bras and generally fought for the freedoms and rights I have today. I’m relieved that I can earn my own money, own my own property, not be sold as a chattel, and decide what happens to my body.
But equally, I have no desire to be like a man. I love that I’m a girly girl: I wear dresses to work, I coo over kittens, and I’m in serious danger of contracting a case of glitter-lung after years of dousing myself in anything sparkly.
For me, it’s the differences between men and women that make them attractive to one another. Call me old-fashioned, but I like a man to be bigger, stronger, more physical and more gallant than me. I want him to have that primal urge to protect and provide, even though I don’t NEED him to. It somehow gives me permission to tap into my feminine traits; it allows my inner cave-girl to nurture, to nest, and to feel protected from bears / marauding intruders / terrifying spider encounters. “Not so feminist now”, I hear you cry…
Difference feminism asserts that despite the equal moral status of men and women as persons, there are genuine differences between the sexes and those differences need not all be considered “equal.” (Wikipedia)
I know women who, thanks to the efforts of the sisters who went before us, are “having it all”. They have the career, money, kids, husband, house, gym membership and so on and so forth. They are intelligent, attractive, successful people. But for me, their life seems less like having it all and a lot more like DOING it all. They get up at 5am to clean the house, prepare packed lunches, and dress the kids before they go and wake hubby at 7am. They earn more than him, work more than him, look after the kids more than him, clean more than him, organise more than him, plan more than him… In effect, they are undertaking something like 75% of the tasks in that relationship. I can only presume that their husbands are delighted by this arrangement, in which they sleep more, play more and worry less as their freshly-ironed shirts appear, as if by magic, in the wardrobe each week.
Probably those women are happy. Probably their husband is amazing in lots of other ways. After all, these are smart ladies and peeking into someone else’s relationship never gives a true picture. But as sure as I am that I want to be an equal partner in my relationships, I also want to be the female partner. For me, feminism is about equality of opportunity and status, without any detriment to my identity as a woman. Rebecca West puts it better that I ever could:
I know how she feels.