I didn't choose feminism, it chose me.
‘Why would anyone willingly flaunt feminism? Why do women want to hate men so much?’
To write those words today feels quite shocking. Even more so knowing that not too long ago, these thoughts were my own.
Now, I get it.
Before I dive into what feminism means to me, and why it is so important, I would first like to tell you a little about the men in my life. And when I say the men in my life, these are the men I have CHOSEN to keep in my life. They are not people that come and go, not people I put up with, these are the men that make my life better on a regular basis.
I work in the entertainment industry. If you were to read the news of the past six months it would be fair to think that predators lurk in every corner, and good men were few and far between. I am soooo happy to tell you that this is not the case, in my world anyway.
If I break my professional network down to blocks of ten, I would be confident in saying that around one in every ten male I have had dealings with, is a known predator. That might sound okay - it’s only 10%, right? Well, no, that’s not fine. One single predator in the industry is unacceptable, let alone one in every ten.
So what about the other nine? Let me tell you.. If I needed to restore my faith in humanity this year, the thing that would have got me there was the men I know through my work, who I choose to continue to deal with.
These men are more than happy for a woman to lead. In actual fact, I don’t believe it even crosses their mind that it’s unusual. These men have heard about the #metoo stories and instead of thinking ‘bloody feminists’, they have all spoken to me individually to try and understand it more and, without knowing it, have become allies for change.
I celebrate these men today, and every day, for allowing me to feel supported, safe and valued, in an industry that is very tough at times.
Next up, is the blood’s thicker than water men. The men in my family. This includes my smart and creative brother Greg, who shares parenting equally with his lovely wife and the mother of his two boys. It has never even occurred to him that women should have lesser roles than men, and I respect him highly for that.
My father in law Pete is a true gentleman. He married a beautiful and strong woman, and welcomed me into the family with no questions asked, regardless of the fact that I can be quite strong and opinionated at times too. Both of my husband's parents do a hell of a lot for us on an ongoing basis, and I couldn’t do what I am able to do without them.
Then there’s my Dad. Both Dad and I are pretty determined when we can see an injustice in the world, and neither of us are afraid to speak our mind about issues that we feel are important.
I was talking to my Dad about a mammoth task I am about to take on, for no other reason than doing what is right and just in my eyes. Dad almost apologised to me that I take after him. Well Dad, I wear it proudly. What an incredible role model I have had in my life to stand up in what you believe in and go after what you want.
Finally, the man I married. My husband Rob, who would never consider himself a feminist, but my goodness, he sure as hell is.
When I sat Rob down after three years of desperately trying to be the ‘stay at home’ mother I had thought I should be, tears rolling down my face, he asked me what was wrong. The only words I could manage to say were ‘I can’t do this’. Rob understood instantly, and probably had suspected it for some time. He didn’t hesitate, within five minutes we had drawn up a plan for me to return to work and for Rob to become the main caregiver to our two boys.
If I tell my husband I want to do something, there is never the question of how, why, if or what.. The only question is ‘when?’. He never doubts that it’s something I can do, or should be doing, he just prepares for my next move.
Beyond that we are raising two little men together that are learning from their father how to treat and value women. They are little feminists too, we could get cute matching feminist tops and march the streets. They rock.
All that to say, I love men.
I REALLY LOVE MEN.
And now that I have said that, I can tell you why it is I find myself a hardcore feminist today.
A few years ago someone asked me what I stood for. I had no bloody idea. I knew I cared about animals and the environment, I knew I was an empathist (perhaps to a fault), and I knew I stood for equality - in the general sense of the word at least.
What I was missing was something that took over my thinking, that made my blood boil, that filled me with dread and hope, all at the same time.
John Keats once said ‘Nothing ever becomes real until it’s experienced’, and that, could not be truer for me. As much as I feel deeply for things that I hear about, and that I see on the news, I am aware that they are not my reality, not yet anyway.
What is my reality is the deep understanding of the power men have over women. A broken system that allows perpetrators and predators to continue doing disgraceful things to women. I understand what it is like to be chatting to a girlfriend on the streets of Richmond at night and noticing that we both stepped into each other that little bit closer when a male walked past us.
In 2017 we heard an almighty roar, of women from all over the world, all different races, in many different industries. From where I am standing, there were many voices, all speaking to one thing only.
A woman has the right to go to work and do a job without feeling threatened, harassed or abused by those she interacts with.
A woman has the right to report something that isn’t okay, and be supported, rather than mocked or even made to feel guilty herself.
A woman has the right to mother how she sees fit, without judgement or expectation.
A woman has the right to embrace her sexuality, to wear a nice dress and tall heels, without waiting for a grope, a wolf whistle or the word ‘slut’ applied to her.
A woman has the right to just 'be'.
So this year I celebrate International Women’s Day, probably for the first time in actual fact. And I get it, and I am sorry, and I am hopeful.
And a note to my sisters around the world.. How about we just be bloody kind to each other? Listen to each other, support each other. If we can’t do it, how can we really expect the change we are all so desperate for?