Inspired by a conversation on twitter, I am running a series of interviews with women about their feminism. I’m hoping that other women will find our various paths to feminism interesting and we might also take strength from and pride in our stories. If you would like to take part please leave a message here or send a direct message to @sueveneer on twitter.
Thanks to @Captain_Chaos43 for sharing her story.
1. At what point in your life did you start to understand that you were a feminist?
I’ve always been a strong believer in social justice, I have been involved in activism of various kinds for around 30 years now. I think I’ve always been a feminist, I’ve always believed that women were just as good as men, that we are deserving of fair treatment etc. However, for me, having children was a big wake up call, and then going back to work after a long break raising my sons, one of whom has some serious difficulties associated with autism. I actually had a manager tell me that women don’t do such and such a role with our company and that really opened my eyes.
2. What is the focus of your feminism and how has this shifted over time?
My particular areas of interest are: rape, domestic violence and childhood abuse. I am a survivor of all 3. We live in a rape culture, everywhere you go, there are images of violence and violation of women. Women are still not believed when they disclose their abuse, and even when they are, they are blamed for having brought it on themselves in some way. Narratives abound where women are expected to keep themselves safe from men, and yet, men aren’t taking any real level of responsibility for the epidemic of male violence that’s going on in front of their faces.
3. How has feminism affected your life/relationships/career etc?
My friendship groups have changed a lot. I am less and less tolerant of off hand sexist/racist/ablist twaddle the older I get. I tend to have a lot of acquaintances eye rolling at me if I call them out on their attitudes, this has been especially true since the Ched Evans case, however, once you give them the facts, they tend to end up agreeing that he is a rapist and was bang to rights.
I am now going back to college in order to go to university to study psychology. I want to use my studies to point a spotlight on male violence and to help women to find their own tools to heal from past abuse. I can work to prevent male violence, but there will always be women who have experienced painful things at the hands of men, and if I can help with the healing, I will consider my life well spent.
4. What are your hopes and fears for feminism?
I see feminism being taken over by man pleasing ideas of empowerment through actions which are inherently unfeminist a lot on social media. I really hope that this trend can be stopped before it utterly destroys the movement. It’s the ultimate divide and conquer gambit by men, and women seem to be sleep walking into it! I’d love to see women coming together more, in safe spaces, I hope that we can engineer that, in spite of all efforts to close down women’s space.
There have been a lot of positives that I’ve seen recently, older women sharing their experiences with younger women, true sisterhood of support and encouragement social media has been a major mover in this, so I hope we can all come up with new ways to exploit that in order to make the world a better place.
5. Who inspires your feminism?
Other women! I have been really lucky to have met a group of women who support and care for each other, who live out what the world could look like if we threw off the chains of Patriarchy and stopped hating each other.
All sorts of women inspire me, from the wonderful Jean Hatchet and her funny and self deprecating battling against some truly vitriolic trolling from men angry at her defence of rape victims, through to the many women who just make life happen for the people they love everyday, women who support other women, offer them the hand of friendship and love rather than endless policing and hurt. We have men who do that, women should look out for each other, especially feminists, and it’s really difficult to see when women gang together to rip other women apart.
6. If you could recommend one book or film to a young woman what would it be and why?
I suppose, for women my age who have been in relationships for a while, it would be Wifework by Susan Maushart, which explains just how much of the gruntwork women do every day within the majority of homes, and how men have been merrily shirking these shit jobs for too long. I’d also recommend Delusions of Gender by Cordelia Fine, it can get quite dense at times, but it a really easily understood primer for anyone who wants to be sure that there’s no such thing as “lady brain”