And the women say...

posted on: Saturday, 23 May 2015

Every now and then I get a jolt of feminism. Here's the background: I grew up the second child to a single mother. She was a bastion of strength and dignity. She worked full time and I saw her balance a BIG job (the intelligent, competitive kind of job in a very male dominated industry) with our home life. She did it with grace and tenacity and frankly, her toil then set her up for a very good retirement now. The things that I recognised - sometimes she was late to collect me from school events. I was the only one with divorced parents. Sometimes she spent her money on power suits (it was the 1980's). Sometimes she was so tired we had the same meal for dinner three nights running. Sometimes, looking back, I wondered how she did it all. I had a normal, happy, secure upbringing interspersed by visits to Copenhagen to see our extended family. I lacked nothing. My Mum is Danish, so she was and is liberal, forgiving, calm, empowered. People should so emulate the Danes. They are the coolest society. But I digress...

I suppose what I see now is that I was, one way or another, raised as a feminist by a feminist. But not the rant-y kind. The assertive kind. Anything a man could do I could do. And I lost count of the times she advised me not to be financially dependant on a man. Get educated, make your own money.

So it's interesting as we fast forward twenty years and here I am; a housewife. It's an endless source of conflict for me.

I am raising a daughter, I ask her if is she is a feminist. She thinks I am nut; I am not sure many mothers ask that question? Or at least not of her peers. Not much of her current situation requires that she understands feminism. I guess it's one of those things that doesn't become a requirement until you realise it's a requirement. But yes - she says in reply; she is a feminist. She says I have brought her up to understand that she can do anything she likes, regardless of her gender. She doesn't see her brother being afforded different privileges because he is a boy. We raise them the same way.

I think this issue is no less important when raising a son. Can I just say that when his time comes and he is getting to know his future girlfriends, I be will labouring the point about how to treat women. I am facing the thorny topics now; saying what needs to be said. It really matters to me. Raising a good man is a feat in itself.

But here we go again - overzealous parenting? Why can't I just let it be?!

One thing my lovely Mum infers she observes me parent my that she never worried about all this sh*t. She just got on with it as best she could. Worry was for the people who had time to worry. I do sense there is a self-conscious degree of anxiety about parenting that is so overdone in my generation. Awareness can be a thing that works against you. Did she escape the worry because she wasn't aware that there was so much to worry about?! Or was it enviable Danish sensibility - ever balanced and easy-going? A bit of both.

How do you find the happy medium?


  1. Your mother sounds wonderful. I loved reading this X

  2. To my way of thinking, one of your best ever posts! J