News24

How to be a woman

2012-08-09 09:38

Sometimes I think that feminists got it all wrong.

We demanded an equal share in all the traditional responsibilities of being a man, without having a caucus to work out which share of the traditional female responsibilities the men should take over. The upshot? We work bloody hard and we raise the children. We're fucking exhausted!

Don't dictate me

In bitter moments, I sometimes wonder what we were thinking. I imagine a life in which my greatest worry is what colour to paint my nails – when someone else goes out to work every day, manages the finances, pays the bills and puts a hefty monthly sum in my top drawer with which I am expected to beautify myself.

Fortunately, for me, that little flight of fancy holds the seeds of its own destruction. I am not that woman, nor do I want to be. Because the person that I am when I'm having that fantasy knows that if any man were to try to dictate to me what I should wear or what I should do with my hair, the feminist that I keep on a slow boil would erupt like a volcano.

The trick to having an easy time as a feminist, of course, is ensuring that everyone else around you is a feminist as well. And this is where we run into trouble – not everyone is. So we either spend our lives in perpetual conflict with men and other women who want to suppress those of us who don't stick to our knitting, or we pick and choose our friends and partners from those who feel the same way we do.

Team effort

I have the wisdom or good fortune to be married to a feminist (although I'm not sure he would define himself as such). When he asks me what we're having for dinner, he means, “Which of the things that we planned, shopped for and stocked the fridge with will we be making for dinner tonight?”

We both scamper after loose financial ends, working together to make them meet. We both raise our children in a daily patchwork of responsibilities and fetching and carrying – and more importantly joy. (Other than the breastfeeding, of course, because there are physiological differences that can't be denied.)

We're partners in life, and while this means we each have an equal share at the worry, it also means, for me at least, that if my husband were one day to vanish in a puff of smoke, I wouldn't I wouldn't lose my house, I wouldn't wring my hands and wonder what was to become of me – and believe me, this isn't because we have such brilliant life insurance.

Be in charge

I am halfway through Caitlin Moran's brilliant book “How to be a Woman” (from which I stole this column's title), which is a part-memoir, part-rant about being a woman and a feminist. It's a book I would love to have written. As it is, I want to add my own notes to every chapter.

It's reminded me of all the things that I take for granted. The fact that when I've encountered the occasional blatant sexist, I've been able to shrug off his attitude because it hasn't actually affected the way I live my life or pursue my career. If I were to find myself subject to the whims of a person with such an outlook, that volcano would erupt again.

So, on this 9 August, when we remember the South African women who, fifty-six years ago, marched against another sinister form of oppression, I am doing what Caitlin Moran urges every woman who “has a vagina and wants to be in charge of it” to do – stand on a chair and proclaim: “I am a feminist!”

Georgina Guedes is a freelance writer. You can follow @georginaguedes on Twitter.

Send your comments to Georgina

Disclaimer: News24 encourages freedom of speech and the expression of diverse views. The views of columnists published on News24 are therefore their own and do not necessarily represent the views of News24.





Comments
  • tandi.freeman - 2012-08-09 10:48

    You go girl!!

  • mike.bundy.73 - 2012-08-09 11:31

    Does being a feminist mean that you have to swear like a sailor?

      LaurenH - 2012-08-16 12:33

      Yep. It means you can talk however you like. Like men.

  • Ze Don - 2012-08-09 12:15

    How often do you mow the lawn? Open the car door for your husband? I always find it strange that feminists want to be treated like ladies but only when it suits them. As far as I'm concerned, feminists are the worst kind of sexist that you get!

      grant.callaway.50 - 2012-08-09 15:54

      Agreed! In general, a feminist is to sexism as Julius Malema is to racism. How ofetn do Feminist consider true fairness? They are willing to march and fight for the RIGHT to fight in an army, but have they ever demanded such an OBLIGATION? Feminists want choice where others don't have it.

  • Dipzen - 2012-08-09 14:38

    I love independent women so much, but as a man I also believe men and women have different roles in society and in a home. I also think as men we should support our women so that we don't end up with women who attach titles such as feminist to themselves.

  • Dipzen - 2012-08-09 14:38

    I love independent women so much, but as a man I also believe men and women have different roles in society and in a home. I also think as men we should support our women so that we don't end up with women who attach titles such as feminist to themselves.

  • Dipzen - 2012-08-09 14:39

    I love independent women so much, but as a man I also believe men and women have different roles in society and in a home. I also think as men we should support our women so that we don't end up with women who attach titles such as feminist to themselves.

  • a18nukem - 2012-08-09 14:45

    YAWN! Good grief what the hell did I just read.

  • kevin.watson.7906 - 2012-08-09 16:27

    My late Mother felt feminism was for sissies. By the time she was 35 she had had 3 children, been the chairperson of an NGO (The Southern African Family Planning Association) and been elected to parliament whilst helping with the financial management of my fathers medical practice (he never wrote or signed a cheque in his life). She would never have burned her bra as she felt her breasts were too big to unencumbered. She always was of the opinion that a woman who aspired to be the equal of men was selling herself short or was an under achiever. Her two daughters and son all run their own and homes manage their finances unlike their father. I, her son, also cook supper every night. Her legacy lives on and her scorn for feminists.

  • js.mysman - 2012-08-10 10:24

    Why does there have to be a label? Why can't we just see that some people choose to live one way, and some choose to live another? A lot of women are quite happy to be "home executives". Other women can't stand the though of it. I think most of us fall into the middle ground. We are partners with our husbands in the business of life and parenting. Sometimes I pick up more of the responsibilities, and sometime he does. Each member of the partnership does what they are good at and we muddle through. By boxing me in with feminists (even though I do mow the lawn)you take away my right to be helpless and girly when I need to, and you take away my husband's right to be the "man of the house" when he feels the need to.

  • sekwati.robinson - 2012-08-11 08:22

    ahgggggg get over your self lady...you are called a woman for a reason,act like one....feminists behave like female dogs in heat...they usualy marry weak men so they could throw temper tantrums and have it their way always.... and they end up divorced

  • ambauli - 2012-08-11 10:43

    The roles of men as protectors and providers and women as caregivers have existed in society for millenia. And you expect to overturn this in a few decades? I LOL at you!

  • pages:
  • 1