In a nutshell, Femumism is my term for a feminist mother or a feminist who is also a mother or a mother who is feminist. But I think it’s mostly about being a feminist mother.
The long version is as follows.
Getting on for nine years ago, I was made redundant from my second post degree job. I was really only just getting into it and finding my feet after a series of badly managed departmental shifts and acquisitions. I can say, with confidence, that it is one of the least pleasant things to happen to an individual’s career. Nothing boosts your ego quite like being told you are ‘surplus to requirements’.
It’s unsurprising I think that, over the following weeks and months I took to considering what defined me. If I didn’t work and wasn’t (yet) a mum, and was a very poor and unenthusiastic house wife, then what, exactly, was I good for? What was I going to say when people asked ‘What do you do?’, which is polite for ‘What is your purpose in life? What is the point of you?’
The answer was that I didn’t know. I came to the realisation that I, like so many, believed that my job defined who I was. But surely being a stay at home wife or mother was a ‘role’? I’d always respected this option, and yet here I was in that position, using my ‘unemployment’ to sell my home, nurse my husband, find a new house, get pregnant, and I discovered that I didn’t respect this choice at all, in fact, I had a very negative view of people who stayed at home (with or without kids) and now I was one of them, and suddenly I had absolutely no idea what I could possibly say if someone asked me ‘what do you do?’.
Which meant I had to start thinking about it seriously.
I did and the resulting enlightenment lead, eventually, to my separation and divorce and a complete change in my life. But that’s another story, an unfolding one, and one that will no doubt form the basis for much of this blog.
What I have discovered along the way so far is that we are not our job title, our favourite hobby, marital status, parental status, gender, sexual preference, favourite music genre or dress size. We are, in fact, all of these things and more. We fulfil many roles for different people and different people value our roles differently. We have a currency of person which is formed through what we choose to be defined by and how we choose to present that definition to the outside world. And often that will change depending on our environment and our stage in life.
One thing I realised, after becoming mum to a wonderful little girl, is that now, before anything else, I’m a mum. That’s not so much a conscious decision as one that was bestowed on me the moment I realised I was pregnant, strengthened the moment I first felt her move inside me and cemented the moment I first held her in my arms. I’m self critical and anxious and doubtful much of the time, but I have no doubt about the fact that my daughter and I are bound together for ever, for better or worse, until death do us part, in a way that no friends, lovers, partners or even family will ever be.
But over the past 4 years inspired by wanting to be the best Mum I can be for my daughter I’ve discovered what being female means in the world today. I’ve opened my eyes to how wildly that differs depending on where you live, how much money you have, your religion and society. The more I’ve learned about women’s place in our world, the more I’ve identified with feminism.
I’ve always described myself as having ‘feminist leanings’, but essentially shying away from the word as so many women do, conditioned, as we are, to believe what I think is a deliberate misinformation and deformation of the word. But now I understand more, now I am proud to say that I am a feminist, because I believe in equality for everyone, irrespective of gender.
As my awareness of the problems faced by women ‘even’ in the Western world expands the more my concern for the future of my daughter in this world has grown. My understanding of the impact that culture will have on her, irrespective of what I may teach in the home has deepened. My appreciation of the effect that my beliefs, social and political, may have on a child who may simply (and understandably) wish to ‘fit in’ to a culture that I dislike. So I spend a lot of time exploring and considering the best ways that I can give her the tools to empower her, rather than alienate her. To help her to work within the society in which we are bound to live, without succumbing to it. To be different but not outcast. To help her find her way through a world that favours men, without making fearing or disliking them.
For me, Femumism is a meeting of the two most significant things in my world. My daughter and my belief in equality. Finding a path to help nurture my daughter whilst developing and honing my understanding of the political landscape I now see more clearly. Femumism is about my quest to parent my daughter mindfully, with love and respect for the world we live in and the struggles that many face every day. To teach her to care for the world around her and to truly know that we are all different but equal.
So here, I will explore the struggles and enlightenments along that journey. I think it could be a wide and varied topic, covering toys to recipes, day trips to princess parties. School to politics. I do hope that you’ll enjoy the journey.