Sitting on the Fence

In Think

cc Compfight // Max Eremine

I’ve always struggled with the word feminism and, to most who know me, I still sit on the fence. I preferred the company of boys to girls, I played football, shunned dresses and was occasionally allowed to choose clothes from the boys section of Next. It stems from not being a particularly feminine child growing up, even though as an adult I know perfectly well that ‘feminine’ and ‘feminist’ have completely different meanings.

Truth be told, I’m a feminist, whether I like the word or not. I don’t use the word to describe myself often, but if that means I believe in equality, then I’m a feminist.

Some argue that feminism is an outdated concept that has no purpose in the modern world. However, inequality is prevalent in 21st century society as much as it ever has been. What more do I need to be convinced that feminism has a place in my life?

One thing I was fortunate enough to experience during my childhood was that if I was a good enough, then I could succeed, regardless of my gender. I’ll never forget the day Richard, my rival in mathematics and sport, suggested I should try out for his local boys football team. It had never crossed my mind that I could play.

The same goes for many aspects of childhood. Blue vs Pink, dolls and action men. I shunned dresses and pink things because I didn’t relate to the image projected by society of what a girl should be. Now I know that feminism and gender are separate issues but there’s no denying that they’re intrinsically linked. I remember someone asking me if I wanted to be a boy so much, why I didn’t just cut my hair off. But I didn’t want to be a boy, and I didn’t want short hair. I just wanted an action man instead of a barbie.

For me, the most important thing feminism can do is let people know that their gender should not be a reason to hold them back. I don’t think I’ll ever be a militant feminist. These days I wear make up, buy dresses and even occasionally embrace pink, but I can do that while swigging ale at the pub, shouting at the football and dreaming of becoming a physicist. And it has nothing to do with my gender or sexuality.

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