Throughout my teenage years I have learned more about being a woman than anything else – and that’s with over five years of studying. I’ve learned to ignore the eyeroll that I seem to get when I mention if something is sexist or I start speaking on something to do with feminism.
Let’s call me becoming a feminist a journey. Because it literally has been, there’s been ups and downs and I still have plenty more to learn. I’ll admit shamefully I didn’t really take much to do with feminism till I was around 18. This might be down to ignorance and I cannot wait to educate my children about how unfairly women are treated from an early age. My mum had always been my idol, along with my two grans. They all had thoughts and opinions and were never afraid to share them. I knew I wanted to be like them when I grew up and my mum will tell you I’ve been very opinionated from the day I could speak. We learned in school a lot about women getting the right to vote and I think this is probably when I started to think “this isn’t really fair” but I was more focused on remembering the dates of laws passed for a history exam than anything else. When you start to get a little older your eyes open a lot more. You get groped in night clubs, whistled to in the street and discover that men all around the world get to make decisions on womens bodies. I started to learn that women had to fight for everything, the fight for a choice, fight for a vote, fight for a better pay, do you see the theme? I was starting to realise my life would be full of fighting for the simplest things.
I have struggled with being a woman many times, I’ve never wanted the stereotypical “woman’s life”. I noticed it more as I watched most of the girls I went to school with announce their pregnancies and engagements on social media. Now, I’m not saying I don’t want to be a wife or have a child and I do look forward to that day well into the future but right now I am more than that, I’m a woman building a career, I’m educating myself, travelling and building my own life right now. I know you can do this as a parent as well but we make women believe they have some expiry date. I know a lot of men have this conventional image that a woman cooks, cleans and brings children into the world but I know that is not my place right now and I am not embarrassed about that.
Back in 2015 I was living in Australia and I mentioned that I wanted a career before I wanted children and a boy I knew at the time disagreed with what I wanted to do. He told me that my boyfriend shouldn’t be happy with that and that it was my role to be a mother. The thing that shocked me the most was some women in the group agreed with him. They then told me that they couldn’t wait for that part of their life. I stayed quiet. When they finally exhausted their own arguments, I simply told them I didn’t need them to understand as it wasn’t them living my life. I do not judge any woman who wants to live that life as that is their own choice but I can break the image, I can mould myself into the woman I want to be.
My mum is very career focused and managed to have me and work at the same time. However, she got the comments about how she worked too much and how could she be looking after me if she was working so much. Everyone lives their life differently and women are under such scrutiny when it comes to their home life and career.
In Australia I had a lot of free time between travelling and working, this is where I connected more with being a feminist. I was surrounded by a lot of sexism and couldn’t believe some of the views that people openly spoke about. This was also the first time I was called a “snowflake” and “feminazi” Names I couldn’t quite come to terms with. I won’t lie I cried far too much over mens opinions of me. I was called a “man hater”- as if feminism meant I wanted the extinction of men.
I was picked apart for any views and I was made a fool of for standing up for something I believed in.
I think often a lot of people don’t understand the meaning of feminism and they have this horrible misconception of the word. Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie said in her book “We should all be feminists” that being a feminist was
“a person who believes in the social, political, and economic equality of the sexes.”
Being called all these names may have gotten me down then but it’s the fuel that keeps me going. I’m used to the name calling and people telling me I’m just sensitive and I know the world out there is cruel, and I know in my lifetime I won’t see women at the level they deserve but it doesn’t stop me from fighting. I’m not sensitive I just don’t have time for women to be treated unfairly anymore, I’m only 26 and I’m tired of it already.
What does that say for us?
Just like my mum I’ll have to work harder to prove my worth and I know this and women like me all around the world will face hardships for simply being a woman. However, I know that I have a lot of privilege that a lot of women don’t have. I can vote, drive a car and even though there is scrutiny over the subject - I can make my own choices for my own body. I can’t stand up for feminism in the UK and not the rest of the world. I can’t pick what I want to stand up for down to geography.
I know I’m not a perfect feminist, do you know how many times I’ve watched 50 shades of grey? Do I need to give up a naked Jamie Dornan to be a good feminist? Do I have to stop listening to rap music that hypersexualises women? Probably. I guess I should do these things as it’s hypocritical of me to do these things and not expect it to be returned by men. So, I promise I’ll stop in the near future to stop watching 50 shades... in the future. Give me one last watch - its for the storyline, I promise.
I’m trying to improve in every way I can, not with just gender issues but other social and clutural issues. I think thats what we all should do, instead of calling someone sensitive understand how another person lives and how they feel. I just wish everyone was more respectful to people around them. We need to stop putting each other in little boxes and labelling them in our head.
I’ve been in rooms where men have started to discuss football and I’ve tried to join in and people (mainly men) have questioned if I really know what I’m talking about. As if that isn’t what a girl should be into, as if I should be sitting at home curling my hair and baking cookies. They laugh their comment away and ask me the offside rule as if I’ve not been going to football games since I was around 6. It’s something I still enjoy, and my Dad was never embarrassed to have a little girl who wanted to watch football on weekends. He’s probably prouder of my love for my football team than the degree and masters i’ve achieved. But that is what it should come down to, what you love doing and what you are passionate about. I’m passionate about helping women. I’m often the happiest being surrounded by strong women. My group of friends consist of scientists, journalists, retail workers and teachers. All women from different backgrounds and countries but we all have the same thing in common and that is empowerment.
We’ve all been called names and seen how nasty the world can be. So, every time I feel weak or I think I’m not doing enough I think about the times I’ve been called a snowflake for wanting a better world and I get angry, but in the right way. I try to do more and I stand up with my privilege and make my voice be heard and even louder for women who can’t be heard. It’s time for us to fight back and call out who is wrong, to get people to stop using words and phrases that are sexist and derogative. They can call us what they want because it no longer embarrasses me, it no longer makes me feel voiceless because I know as a woman I can achieve anything I want.
So call me whatever you want because I’m a woman and even though it’s hard I am proud to be a woman and proud to be a snowflake because I actually think snowflakes are quite lovely.
Instagram: @auldy _