What does Feminism mean to you?
I am in my 88th year and am thus a survivor of the early days of women’s liberation. How did we see ourselves? Feminism was defined as the advocacy of women’s rights and we were certainly feminists. Equality was being equal in all areas social, employment, emotional. We wanted equality. Above all we wanted liberation from the laws, rules and customs which constantly frustrated us. We wanted from men partnership not ownership. As the years went by we won the right not to be dismissed because we married people our employers did not approve of: to marry at all: to become pregnant (that really was a struggle)We were able to join company pension schemes to leave widowers pensions. We were no longer required to have husbands sign our tax returns or have a man act as guarantor for any renting or hire purchase. We have not yet won true partnership in personal liaisons. In co-habiting couples it is estimated that less than 7% share housework equally (2019) survey)Women may work, contribute as much financially but they nevertheless take on the majority of housework, nurturing family relationships and increasingly, the huge burden of caring for the elderly and frail.
And something worse is emerging- a regression of men, of all ages, all classes, to a centuries old idea of entitlement, where women are concerned. The idea that any women, however young, who meets the current male ideal can be treated like some pet animal, a cat to be stroked, petted, touched. And if the “cat” shows her claws she is a sour-faced bitch who took an accidental touch, a compliment, the wrong way. It might help if such unwanted physical and verbal attentions were covered by the same laws as racial offences ”behaviour which demeans humiliates or embarrasses” and immediate and stringent action taken. But at a time when an elderly American can tell the world he” likes to grab women by their pussy” and then go on to be elected President of the United States I think it is going to be a long hard struggle. I wish my young sisters well.