The F word

“I’m not a feminist,” a friend told me decisively today. A little earlier she’d given me a bunch of flowers for International Women’s Day.

She’s an intelligent, articulate young woman, married, travelling on her own in London from Ukraine, doing a well-paid job, well aware that she’s highly-enough qualified to be head-hunted.

I like to think she said that because she has what she wants from life and so feels she doesn’t need to be a feminist.

Later, she said that she thinks the women in London are more attractive than their Ukrainian counterparts – not because they are fundamentally any more or less beautiful, but because they seem far more free to be themselves, unconstrained by the need to conform to any particular idea of beauty or behaviour.

That showed me that she is a feminist – she just doesn’t know it.

How did feminism become such a dirty word? Why are women ashamed or reluctant or downright offended to be associated with it?

Of course, there are controversial and difficult things associated with feminism, as there are with any social movement. But all of us women today owe it a huge debt – and an obligation to carry on the good work.

I’m glad my friend saw British women as being free from social demands to look and behave a certain ‘feminine’ way – but I can’t say I agree with her. Instead, it seems to me that women have simply internalised the demands and the objectification to such an extent that now we impose them on ourselves and call it being in control. Being post-feminist.

There’s no such thing as post-feminist. How can there be, when the fight hasn’t been won?

Here’s my bunch of flowers. Happy International Women’s Day, all you fabulous females out there.

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