With Women’s History Month and the celebration of International Women’s Day, I thought it would be fitting to write about a small part of my journey with feminism.
Four years ago, if anyone had asked me if I were a feminist, I would have balked at the idea. Me, a feminist, no way. I had this stereotypical, preconceived image of who a “feminist” was, and quite frankly, I did not fit that mold.
That feels like a lifetime ago. Now, I am proud to be a feminist. Why? Because I went on a learning journey, I learned that at the heart of it, feminism is quite simply the concept that “genders are equal.”
I went from no way, not me, to oh my goodness, of course, yes, definitely me. How could I not have seen it before? How could I have been so blind? Of course, all people deserve equity and respect.
Throughout my career, I have seen, heard, and experienced terrible behaviors; in some situations, I would go so far as to say outrageous behaviors, but my career was going well, so I would not rock the boat. I very much stood on the periphery and was not going to speak up or speak out when situations arose.
I didn’t want to be associated with “feminism.” I definitely did not want to be labeled as a troublemaker.
Then two events happened during a relatively short time, changing my life forever. I got a promotion at work that ended disastrously, and I gave birth to my daughter.
The knock-on effect from one to the other was the realization that I didn’t want my child to experience what I had experienced. I want my children to live as equals. To experience life as equals. That no matter what career path they choose, they are treated equally.
This realization set me on my path. I wanted and needed to learn and understand more about gender equity across cultures, societies, and in the workplace. The first book I read was “Work Like a Woman” by Mary Portas. I found it rather addictive.
A sigh, understanding, and validation followed each page. I had either been in the situations being described or witnessed them and could understand and agree with the assertions being made. It was then I realized how wrong my preconceived thoughts and ideas were.
Feminism is not burning bras and bitter women; it is a realization and acknowledgment that we need change.
A realization that the framework of the corporate world was not aligned with the inclusivity of women or supportive of women succeeding. After all, the corporate world was predominantly built by men.
It is not to say that women cannot succeed because they do, but with the right change, both men and women would be better supported, and both have more opportunities for success.
Through my reading, I also learned the importance of demonstrating equity at home and demonstrating to children from a young age that we are all just people with no superiority and modeling appreciation and respect for individuality.
There should not be a delineation of chores based on gender. And by far, my favorite is there is absolutely no wrong answer to “What do you want to be when you grow up?”
So, I am no longer on the periphery of this discussion but right at the heart of it. If I can help start the conversation or push it forward, I will try my hardest.