Wednesday, January 27, 2010


So, inspired by The Butterfly Rush and an old post on Blue Milk, I wanted to write an entry where I answer questions.  Mostly for myself, but feel free to read and comment if you so choose.

(Pinched from the What Does A Feminist Mother Look Like? entry at Blue Milk)

1.How would you describe your feminism in one sentence? When did you become a feminist? Was it before or after you became a mother?

To answer that in one sentence is really tricky.  I suppose I am a liberal-minded feminist with non-activist tendencies, although I practice what I preach every single day and try to persuade others to think about gender equality wherever possible.  I think I've always been a feminist underneath, having been brought up in a household where my mother ruled the roost and we were encouraged to play with both dolls and cars, but I really came to claim the label for myself when I lived by myself.  So around the age of 22.  This was several years before I became a mother.

2.What has surprised you most about motherhood?

The amount of stuff that just never ends.  My love and adoration for my son goes hand-in-hand with the sheer frustration I feel when he throws up for the twenty-third time in ten minutes, or the fact I never catch up on my sleep anymore.  The responsibility never ends, either.  From the moment you conceive you are completely responsible for someone else's life, particularly when that someone has special feeding requirements or medical appointments every day.  I am constantly surprised when people refer to me as "Mom" (or "Mummy", although I choose to go by "Mama") and it reminds me just how much responsibility I have to have.

3.How has your feminism changed over time? What is the impact of motherhood on your feminism?

I am both far more relaxed and far more militant.  I care less about certain aspects of feminism (what books I "ought" to be reading, for example, or things I cannot change in other cultures) and far more about things that directly affect my family.  Motherhood and marriage have done this.  I will defend to the death a woman's right to choose: her name, anything to do with her children, her ability to speak out, her safety and anything else she might need.  However, I condemn those women who do nothing for our rights and are involved in showing off their bodies for money (I'm looking at YOU, Jordan-esque types), buy oodles of pink crap for their daughters and toy guns for their sons, and who do anything else that generally irritates me.

4.What makes your mothering feminist? How does your approach differ from a non-feminist mother’s? How does feminism impact upon your parenting?

My mothering started out differently the minute I knew I was pregnant.  Mike and I decided that although we wanted to know the sex of our baby (no excuse, just sheer curiosity), we felt it was no-one else's business. So we kept it a secret and everyone bought us neutral baby gifts.  Now we all know Owen is a boy, it pisses me off that we receive things in blue or with a sports motif, simply because he has a willy.  I wish people would listen to me more when I tell them how much I hate that stuff.  I think my approach has yet to be fully defined, but I think that refusing to buy gendered baby stuff makes me different to a non-feminist mother.  I will also educate Owen on how boys and girls are the same as he gets older; and how he, as a white, middle-class male, needs to think about his impact on women's rights more than most.

5.Do you ever feel compromised as a feminist mother? Do you ever feel you’ve failed as a feminist mother?

The only time I feel compromised is when I buy things for other parents.  I hate myself sometimes when I buy something pink or blue because they've specifically asked for it or I know they'll really like it.  I always try to pick out something neutral instead.  The very worst times are when there's no option: I was looking at buying plasters today, but all the children's Band-Aids were either girl characters or boy.  There was no in between.  You got either Barbie, Dora or Littlest Pet Shop; or Transformers, Spider-man or Star Wars.  In the end I went with Toy Story, but I couldn't fathom why it was in the boys' section.  I rarely feel I've failed as a feminist mother because for me, that isn't an option.  I'm a feminist and I'm a mother.  I live my life according to both principles.
6.Has identifying as a feminist mother ever been difficult? Why?

Sometimes yes.  Other people Just.  Don't.  Get.  It.  They think you're being deliberately antagonistic or that you think your parenting skills are better than theirs.  (But that's usually because they are, if you're not a feminist parent.)  I am getting better about speaking up though, and I'm learning that speaking my mind calmly and logically will often help other women to come around to my way of thinking of their own accord.

7.Motherhood involves sacrifice, how do you reconcile that with being a feminist?

I cannot believe I'm a stay-at-home-mom.  God, I hate that.  I'm so glad I'm also in the publishing industry, because I don't believe women should be confined to the home with children.  It's so boring!  I've sacrificed a lot for my child, starting with my job and ending with my sanity, but the way I reconcile it is to remember it's not his fault.  It is whatever I make of it, and I choose to be a feminist mother, even while I'm engaged in a non-feminist role.

8.If you have a partner, how does your partner feel about your feminist motherhood? What is the impact of your feminism on your partner?

Mike is also a feminist, if we've finally made up our minds that men can be feminists too.  Therefore he supports all my decisions and even though it sometimes takes him longer to get there, he also recognises feminist issues and helps us resolve them in our parenting.  The biggest impact I've had on him was our decision to keep my surname as our family name, losing his.  It was so important to me, and it has become very important to him too.

9.If you’re an attachment parenting mother, what challenges if any does this pose for your feminism and how have you resolved them?

I don't know what that means!

10.Do you feel feminism has failed mothers and if so how? Personally, what do you think feminism has given mothers?
Feminism has only failed mothers in one way: motherhood is not as valued as it could be.  Feminism is started to lean back this way though, which is remarkable to see.  I love a world where women can REALLY choose to have a career OR stay at home and to not feel guilty for either choice.  And in terms of what it's given mothers... well... the list is endless.  Breastfeeding in public, having a career, enabled fatherhood, the pill... brilliant, brilliant stuff.
So there you go!  What an easy post.


  1. IF I was to ever get married, I'd want to keep my surname too, I can't ever imagine changing it. And I like your answer to Q3!

  2. Thanks Butterfly!

    (Hat tip to you for the inspiration for this post.)