Are Women Really Defined by Men? Has Feminist Become a Dirty Word Again?

Last night, TV drama Apple Tree Yard concluded on television.  Its conclusion appearing to be that the main thing perimeopausal women need in their lives is some tall, dark mysterious stranger to make things exciting.  Are women really so shallow?  Will we all be rushing out to buy sports cars and adopting comb overs at the first sniff of waning ovaries next?  Ludicrous.

Apparently all it takes, for even a highly intelligent woman, to whip their knickers off in a broom cupboard is one brooding look and a few sentences.  Oh, and the lure that it was the same broom cupboard Emily Wilding Davison hid in in 1911 was an absolute guarantee of knicker removal etc, apparently.  The poor woman must be turning in her grave!

I haven't read the novel the series was based on, and perhaps it is far better than this dramatization, but the key message appeared to be that now we are all independent feminist sorts with careers we will become like men and have mid-life crises.

Really?  Aren't most middle-aged women far too busy maintaining those careers, running homes, looking after their children who could be aged 1 or 31, and possibly still enjoying a good relationship with their husbands?

What kind of message are we giving our mothers, sisters, daughters if we think their entire lives can be upturned over some 'mysterious' (suspicious, downright odd) man?

Wish me luck raising three girls in this world!

Then this morning I read that our second female Prime Minister, still a thing to be proud of, whatever your political standpoint, has had to apologise in the House of Commons for attempting to demean another MP by calling her by husband's name, rather than the job title or constituency name she should have used.  When brought up on the point, she sniped at Ms Thornberry, who uses her own name in life and work, May commented:

“I have to say though for the past 36 years I have been referred to by my husband’s name!"

Yes dear, maybe you have, but it doesn't mean the rest of us have to!  Why women give up their own name, the core of their identity, to become subservient to someone else's gender and title is a constant mystery to me.

Centuries of being 'given away' from one man to another at an altar, then becoming part of his chattels and belongings by taking his name is so ingrained that, even now we have been 'given' the vote, we are supposed to follow this oppressive patriarchal 'tradition'.  Disturbing.

Since Steve and I married, the only people who have asked me why we have different names have been women.  Like many countries in the world, we both have our own names and our children have a combination of our surnames.  Why would I ever change the name I had for many years simply because I chose to make a public and religious commitment to someone else?

And yet, we live in a society which still makes a distinction between toys for girls and those for boys (because obviously they are operated with genitalia!); which believes girls sit and play quietly and keep themselves clean and tidy, whilst boys shout and fight and get muddy; and in which casual sexism in images, throw away comments and attitudes is rife.  Inequality in roles, pay, dress and expectations remains a huge issue.  Even girl superhero toys have to wear short skirts, have long hair and interesting body issues!

How far have we really moved on?

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