Establishing feminist views or to even be considered one had never been high in priority. Being a feminist was that other dirty F word.
But little did I realize, since early adulthood – university years, working and living abroad, my entire career path – there was that continuous, albeit subconscious, fight to prove that I was worthy and deserved to be treated equal to my male counterparts.
Working in Tokyo for almost 5 years, a female British friend asked me, “How do you deal with the racism and sexism in your Japanese office ”
“It’s not an issue unless you make it one” was my reply.
In hindsight, that was probably a complacent approach.
And while I still believe there’s truth in that statement, there were possibly times when I could’ve stood up for my rights with fervour and confidence.
What’s ironic is, it’s this journey into motherhood that the assertiveness has really kicked in.
Maybe it’s because modern society still doesn’t take the role of a stay at home mother seriously or as a legitimate job with heavy responsibilities.
Last Sunday, I attended “All About Women” at the Sydney Opera House and sat in on the most awe-inspiring, thought provoking talks by passionate, highly intelligent women.
I watched a heartbreaking yet inspiring film, “All Through Fire” where 3 courageous Somali women are rebuilding their communities after war destruction.
I heard the entertaining Jennifer Senior speak about the hiccups we face in modern parenting. While the stats she spoke of are grim and adding that pressure for parents, especially us mothers.
Everyone thinks it’s great that there’s an increasing number of women who are heading back to the workforce yet surveys show that people still believe someone should stay at home to look after the kids. Catch-22 much?)
Mona Elthaway’s words floored me. An Egyptian journalist who’s had both arms broken and sexually assaulted by riot police during Egypt’s 2011 protests, Mona is fiercely outspoken about the dire current situation of women’s rights in her home country and surrounding Arab nations.
Only until recently, the law in Morocco allowed rapists to dodge jail by marrying their young victims. Imagine being 12 and marrying your rapist.
Now, before we start thinking how awful and backward all these countries around the world and how wonderfully lucky we have it here in Australia, don’t forget that somehow, our very own notoriously sexist Prime Minister is also Minister for Women’s Affairs.
She reminds us that fighting the gender equality battle is never done and it starts with us. In our immediate surroundings. In our home.
I want my boys to perceive me as a strong, capable woman; someone who deserves respect and authority not just within her family but her community; a leader in her own right who is not afraid to voice her opinions, no matter how radical.
I want my children to know that when I’m fired up or feisty, it’s all for a good cause. I want them to know that being a feminist is not a crime nor social taboo.
But most of all, I hope that through my example, they will learn to treat all women – all human beings – with equal respect.
Is it too late to aspire to be someone? I hope not. In fear of sounding stupidly gushy, I want to be just like Mona.
The talks will soon be uploaded on the Ideas at the House YouTube channel. I urge you to subscribe now and get ready to be inspired.
Do you have a female role model? Who is it?
Joining Essentially Jess for IBOT