Feminism for 7 year olds

This is a bit of a departure from some of my normal posts sharing my family life but recent news stories have really got me thinking about the world my kids are growing up in.

I don’t know if I am a feminist. It is a confusing label that means different things to different people. Some feminism ideas strike a cord with me and others don’t. Maybe that makes me a pick and mix feminist – I’m too busy to figure out the label.

What I am for sure is the mum of a seven year old girl who I want the absolute best for. I want her to grow up in a world where she is safe and has opportunities open to her.

On the surface life seems so much more complicated than it did in my formative years. It is easy to spot danger lurking around every corner with sexual images and revenge porn sites, airbrushed models influencing our body image ideals and social media capturing and broadcasting our embarrassing moments for prosperity. Although is the world really more dangerous or are we just focusing on what we are told to be scared of? More confusion that I’m too busy to figure out!

You may have seen the debate about Charlotte Proudman and accusations from some people that she is a feminazi (a horrible term that was probably invented by internet trolls or people who share their mindset). In a nut shell she called out a senior lawyer on Twitter for sending her a message on LinkedIn commenting on her appearance. She didn’t know him and judged that it was inappropriate to do this on a professional networking site. I saw her on News Night yesterday she clearly is sincere in her belief that this is demeaning and inappropriate.

Many column inches have been devoted to both sides of this story, some I’ve read some I have tuned out (did I mention I was busy?). It makes me question is this debate making the world a better place for my daughter to grow up in? I’m not sure.

What made an impact on me much more than the Charlotte Proudman debate is story hidden away on page 29 of the I Paper yesterday. It detailed two young (alleged) rape victims in India who were shot dead before they could testify in court. The details of the story of horrific. The fact that this is given the briefest of mentions shocks me. Surely this is more relevant to the future safety of girls like my daughter than what you say on LinkedIn?

I can agree to an extent that everyday sexism is on the same continuum as this extreme and violent story. But is the energy and attention generated by the Proudman story focused in the right place when there is life and death examples of sexism seemingly quite prevalent in the world? Or can we afford to do this because we have got all the life and death aspects of female equality sorted here?  Have we got the life threatening stuff sorted?

Kylie Jenner and Malala Yousafzai both turned 18 recently. One is a reality star from a privileged family. The other survived being shot in the head by the Taliban for attending school. I’m pretty sure I know who’s milestone birthday got more attention. A google search gives Kylie Jenner 8,220,000 results and Malala Yousafzai 469,000 (I realise that this is completely unscientific). I’m also very clear which one has something to say that I would want my 7 year old year old girl to hear.

I don’t have any answers. Does asking these questions make me a feminist or not? I have no idea. All I know is that it is very confusing to me as an everyday mum. How do I equip my daughter with the skills and confidence she needs to hold her own in this crazy mixed up world? What are the dangers she needs to be ready to face?

I’d love to know your thoughts. Do you have some answers? Let me know in the comments section below.

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11 thoughts on “Feminism for 7 year olds

  1. As a mum of two little girls, and a big sister to two teenage girls, it infuriates me seeing celebrities being role models to young women. There is so much to aspire to in education, in careers, in making a home and a family; yet they all (hopefully not all) want to be WAGs. All we can do is try and encourage the right values as mums, and give them the love and support to grow into happy young women. X MMT

    1. I think I’ve concluded there is always going to be aspects of the world that are less than ideal and I’ve just got to foster confidence and aspiration in my daughter. Thanks for stopping by and commenting. S x

  2. Such a thought-provoking post, a feminist to me simply means equality, something women sadly don’t have yet in this world, west or not, we still don’t have equal pay or status. I hope things change and are better for our children’s generation. My Mum raised my brother and I as feminists and I am raising my sons that way too. You are a wonderful mother, a great role model for your daughter and you’re right, it’s shocking how obsessed our society is with celebrity culture x
    Honest mum recently posted…My Time at the FunFest Blogger Summit 2015 (Including my Keynote Speech from Maternity Leave to Professional Blogger)My Profile

  3. I think as my children get older this is going to be a really tricky thing to tackle – to educate my son too. As a society we see to really over focus on crazy things in the press – who actually cares about the Jenners / Kardashinans and if a man was a genius I can bet my bottom dollar people wouldn’t comment on his appearance. It is a really confusing airbrushed world sometimes that’s for sure – great post x
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    1. I am very glad social media didn’t exist to capture my younger years – so glad its a few years until we have to navigate this tricky territory. There are a lot of contradictions out there isn’t there – I’m not even sure that I have it straight in my own head (hence all the questions and lack of answers).

  4. I agree that there are bigger issues in the world than what people are posting on LinkedIn but I very much agree with the position that all these things are on the same continuum. We are lucky in this country that we are relatively privileged, but women in this country are killed by their partners every week (can’t remember the exact statistic but it’s more than one a week I think) so I believe we have a responsibility to at least question the smaller issues as well, as they are all part of a wider problem of women not being valued as much as men. I don’t have a daughter but I believe that as the mother of a son I have just as much responsibility to teach him about feminism.
    Min recently posted…How I Became a Real BloggerMy Profile

    1. I just looked up how many women are killed per week and it’s 2 per week (according to Women’s Aid) – totally shocking. We clearly have not got the life or death issues sorted. It occurred to me after I’d published this that I should have mentioned that this is equally relevant to how I raise my two sons. Thanks for stopping by and for your comment.

  5. I’ve been puzzling over this post for a few days, and felt I wanted to comment. I am not sure why women don’t want to identify with being a feminist or feminism. As someone has said it basically means you believe in equality, that be male or female you have he same opportunities or access to things. The same rights, not to be hurt for example.

    Do women not want to identify themselves as feminists as we have been conditioned to think that you have to have hairy legs and no bra? Or that women want to “take something away” from the men? I fully support gay rights etc, but don’t feel the need to fly the rainbow flag in my garden.

    If Sofia, Leo and Sam were all employed in the same job, exactly the same, you’d expect all three to be paid the same wage. If you were told Sophia earns £3,000 less just because she was a female and for no other reason (experience, performance etc) you’d disagree with that wouldn’t you? But you’d expect Sofia to get her £3,000 not Sam and Leo to lose £1,500 each?

    I just find it a shame that as we move towards equality the media finds ways to move us away from supporting or identifying with the ideals that started the progress.

    1. Hi Vicki – thanks for your comment. I agree 100% that what is important is equality for both men and women – equal pay, being recruited and promoted based on ability, everyone being safe and respected. We have definitely come a long way and I enjoy the benefits of that and our kids will too.

      I’m just a little bit hesitant about the terminology. I feel like I need to be more informed before saying with conviction that I’m a feminist. The waters get a bit muddied for me when it starts to go beyond gender equality – like the idea of having quotas for the number of women on company boards (I would never want to be the token woman there to make up numbers), or women getting extra employment rights when their role is redundant during maternity leave (which seems totally unfair).

  6. Thank for the thought provoking post. I get frustrated any time I hear a woman say anything but: “I am a feminist.” Being a feminist simply means you believe that women and men should be equal, in every sense of the word. I would sincerely hope that you share that belief! But I do understand that feminism has come to mean so many different things, and people are afraid of the label. While I agree that of course the Linked In story is not as important as the murder of two rape victims, I do think that acts such as rape are influenced greatly by the pervasive culture, including sexism in a Linked In message. I believe that in a world where a man would never think to comment on a woman he didn’t know personally’s appearance on a professional network there would be less sexism of every kind, across the spectrum. Just my two cents! Glad I came over from #brilliantblogposts
    Elizabeth, Plant Based Bride recently posted…Why I Add a B12 Supplement To My Vegan DietMy Profile

    1. Thank you for reading this post and for your comment. I have really appreciated how people’s comments have really prompted me to examine my thinking on this. I’m 100% for gender equality for both men and women even if I’m not completely comfortable with the term feminist. I think for me the label isn’t really the key issue for me.

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