I always thought of myself as a feminist but there are days where I no longer fully understand what that even means. To me the essence of feminism was about giving women a choice and celebrating that choice whatever it may be. My Mum was a stay at home mum, she was there every day when I came home from school, it was what she wanted and I believe it gave me the structure I needed when I was younger and benefited the family as a whole. It was what worked best for us then. I on the other hand have been to University (twice – I like to learn!) and have worked for most of my adult life. The reason I stopped working was to take care of my family, it became impractical to work while my Mum was undergoing cancer treatment and I had young children at home. As Mum has improved though I feel a sense of judgement.
“When are you going back to work?”
“You can’t sit around and do nothing you know!”
“Do you really want to be one of those stay at home mums who doesn’t have a life?”
“You’re better than that?”
All comments that I have had thrown at me recently and I began to wonder at what point did we stop celebrating a woman’s right to choose and decide it was okay to judge each other for not doing everything? There is no way I could have taken care of my family, taken my Mum to the hospital daily and worked a full time job and I was incredibly lucky that I was in a position where I didn’t have to but at what point did putting your family first make you open to judgement. Looking through the jobs pages I see so many openings for carers, babysitters, cleaners and it occurs to me that you didn’t see as many positions advertised because that was what women did, unpaid and largely unappreciated. Telling a woman that she isn’t good enough and that she should be doing more is not what feminism is about. Yes there are still feminist issues to be addressed. When women do the same work and cover the same hours as their male counterparts they deserve the same wage for it but I find myself wanting to fight for it less and less because I see so many self proclaimed feminists who don’t seem to understand what the word means and I don’t want to be associated with them. I don’t want to be a feminist if it means judging other women for not making the same choices as me, I do not wish to celebrate my femininity by belittling men and I don’t want to feel like I’m failing because I can’t fulfil all these different roles and be as successful as I would want to be in them.
I love men. I like knowing I have my partners love and support at the end of the day. That he cherishes me and wants to care for me as I want to care for him. I expect him to respect me as I respect him. I like it when he holds the door open for me. Not because he thinks I’m incapable of opening a door but out of courtesy and I like taking care of him in return. I want my partner to feel loved and respected in our relationship and I expect him to make me feel the same way. Working day Bella is very different to After Hours Bella. I can be in charge in all other areas of my life but when at home with my partner I need him to take charge so that I can let go and I trust him to care for me and make the right choices for us during that time. I get to release all the stress of my day and he takes it all on and deals with it for me. I definitely get the better end of that deal!
I support a woman’s rights to choose whatever path they wish to take in their lives. I celebrate the differences between the sexes and I will work hard to succeed at all my own endeavors while supporting those in my life. I am a feminist!