The Trainee Feminist

What is feminism? Simply the belief that women should be as free as men, however nuts, dim, deluded, badly dressed, fat, receding, lazy and smug they might be. Are you a feminist? Hahaha. Of course you are. Caitlin Moran

I have a mother, two sisters, a wife and a ten year old daughter. The majority of my clients are women. Twitter tells me I follow slightly more women than men. I have a great group of kind and generous friends and the women are just as much fun to get tiddly with as the men. They have strong, considered and sensible opinions on all areas of our lives. My wife has a serious, grown up job. I arse about on Twitter and doodle to top up our income. Without me we don’t go to the cinema to enjoy the latest instalment in the Star Wars saga. Without my wife we lose the house. I take the kids to school and pick them up at the end of the day most days. I run them around to clubs, playdates and parties. I cook most of the meals at home. I make a ham-fisted attempt at making sure the house is kept tidy, that there are clean clothes and that we don’t run out of loo roll. When my wife does these things and her full time job, she does them much better than me. And still she lets me keep on at it. When we were expecting our eldest I was terrified of having a girl. Terrified because one day she’d be a teenager and want to date teenage boys. And I’d been one of those myself. I know what they’re like. I’ve worked with more women than men. They have been noticeably better in pretty much every way you can imagine at pretty much any area of working life you’d care to mention.

I wouldn’t be where I am today, indeed I wouldn’t even exist, without women. I’ve let them down, been ungrateful and I’ve treated them carelessly, from time to time and to my eternal shame. I’m still learning and much of what I have to learn I will learn from the women in my life. About life. And love and play and art and joy and sadness and grief and science and humour and nature and fine wine and good food and the whole damn universe.

We don’t need a business case to see why we need women to be as well represented in workplaces as men. Or to see them paid equally. The Fawcett Society says that, at the current rate of progress, it will take 50 years to close the pay gap. 95 years after the Equal Pay Act (since repealed) was passed by Parliament. If we continue to discriminate against people because of gender, race, sexual orientation, religious belief or for any difference at all we’re not hearing them. Their new ideas, inventions, innovation and creativity will all go unheard. And we need them. Desperately.

I can’t not be a man I’m afraid. And I know that means some will think I have no place commenting on these things. But I’m a man who cares deeply about the future my daughter will live in. She’ll inherit the future we’re building now. At this rate she’ll be nearing retirement age before she can expect to be paid equally with her male counterparts. I’m sorry, but I don’t think I can allow that to happen. And I don’t think you can either. Because of your mum. Or your sister. Or your daughter.

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3 comments

  1. Thank you Simon for saying something more eloquently than I could on this subject. I’m a man too – and I’m afraid I have committed the sins you describe above including poorly administered household duties. And I’m a sensitive soul too – something I find much more receptiveness in the female of the species than in the male. Machismo is not really something I do despite going up the football and even playing the thing.

    I say to people I’m a feminist and your Caitlin Moran quote sums that up. I’m not into patronising but I’m into inclusivity and fairness and the world hasn’t been as fair to women as it should have been. Until now maybe. We all need a check in on our approach to the world and the world that women experience can be different to that of men. It’s time to spread the fairness I reckon and this is a nice reminder of why that should be the case for us all.

    Great writing as ever from someone who farts about on twitter. Believe me. when this is the result, we’re all glad you do that.

  2. Great stuff Simon and echo everything you’ve said, as well as Perry. I’m troubled by the fact that in some organisations I had the ability to try and impact this agenda and probably could have done more. Interestingly most of my bosses were female and they also didn’t do anything significant either as the monumental shift in front of us looked massive. Not so sure how much longer we can sustain a relatively voluntary approach but like you and with 2 daughters I’m firmly past the point where I think this can be avoided to bridge that ridiculous gap.

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