I am the fortunate woman who was raised in a ‘post-feminist’ world where equality has been achieved. The woman who competed at school achieving as easily as the boys. I was the woman who worked long hours, and whose credit card ensured I could buy the expensive shoes and clothes which showed the world my equality. I was the woman who was always mistaken as the admin girl, who was fair game on a work’s night out. I am the woman who knows to put her keys between her fingers, when walking the canal bank alone. I am the woman who hopes never to be raped or sexually assaulted by someone I know, because knowing them is enough to sow the seeds of reasonable doubt.
I am the woman who travelled the world, seeing new cultures. Marvelling at how lucky I was not to live the lives of the women I met. I was the woman who became a social worker, and laughed at tutors who told me social work was a profession done by women, for women. I was the woman whose caseload was filled with women whose route out of poverty was barred by motherhood and violence and the effect of both on their mental and physical health. I was the woman who thanked my lucky stars that I made different choices which meant I was better.
I was the woman whose marriage was dismissed as a man’s mid life crisis, because he couldn’t possibly see further than my pert arse and legs. I was the stepmother who found that the cruel cartoons of any woman who dares to marry a man with children, applied to me regardless of what I did. I was the woman who found I was having the same conversations as generations of women before me, wondering how and why I was doing all the work involved in maintaining a family and a house. I was the woman who was selfish for not wanting a baby of my own.
I was the pregnant woman who found that I was fair game for everyone’s advice and my actions were to be decreed as selfish whatever I did. I was the woman who went back to work when my baby was still on the breast, because I shouldn’t expect an employer to accommodate my choices. I was the woman who worked a full time job in part time hours. I was the woman who was lectured by cab drivers about my failure to be a good mother, because I was coming home late from work.
I was the woman who was selfish working while my daughter was small. I was the woman who saw my earnings potential fall by a third, because I had her. I am the woman who is a mother 24 hours a day, 7 days a week regardless of what else I am doing. The woman who spent half her salary to go to work and give another woman a peanuts wage, to take care of my child.
I am the woman whose concerns are trivial if they are about children or concerned with what goes on in the home. I am the woman whose marriage fell apart like many others, but who became a feckless slut and scrounger as soon as that relationship ended. I am the woman’s whose relationship ending means Britain is broken. I am the businesswoman who was advised to wait till my daughter was older, because I couldn’t possibly focus on it right now. I am the woman who is aggressive for not accepting both inequality and being blamed for the poverty that results from that inequality. I am the woman who should know her place. I am the woman who can make a kick ass sponge cake, and finds few things as therapeutic and satisfying as cooking.
I am the woman who should be careful that I don’t put men off by being too ‘self reliant’. I am the woman who should remember that no matter what I do, the most important thing is to remain pretty and young. The woman who needs to learn that businesses cannot be expected to accommodate the mothers who make up it’s work force, and the state shouldn’t be expected to subsidise the inequality they ‘choose’. I am the woman who is being dramatic if I say that equality till you breed, isn’t actually equality at all. I am the woman who should pretend that women’s equality is an acceptable price to pay for bankers recklessness. .I am the woman who should be constructive and accept that solutions which widen inequality are the only way to cut the deficit, and accept the expertise of a political system that where decisions are made by men.
I am the woman who has learned that I have things in common with all women, and that their success is good for me too. I have learned that I am no different to the women whose choices I didn’t make, and I believed myself to be better than. The woman whose lifeline has been in the women who are my friends. I am the woman who is hoping that the woman her daughter becomes, sees the world I was raised to believe existed.
Happy International Women’s Day.
Cross-posted from The Top Soil. This is the first of their ongoing series on Women’s Voices to celebrate the 100th anniversary of International Women’s Day. This piece has been written by a woman who wishes to remain anonymous.
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