I was born inside a bubble fifteen years after the Great War and inside that bubble I stayed until it burst. Inside that lovely alternative placenta I had never felt that I was not equal because of my gender. My mother spoke about the danger of stamping guilt on working Mothers, always changing the word to parent and for as long as I can remember she also used to say that as long as women said “My husband/partner helps me with the house and the kids” we were doomed and would not advance. She was right and I am sorry to say that unfortunately I still hear them say; “Ah he’s very good and helps me” not expecting a 50/50 division of responsibility and care by both parents.
She was very much against that idea of not being able to have it all career and children; to her it was all about being able to make the choices that worked for you with the right support. My mother was the most present of mothers, one who enjoyed her children immensely, she used to say that she could not wait for us to come back from school and we were encouraged to be as daring and bold as we could possibly bear to be and more, inside her house there were no boy nor girl roles, we all did what was needed and did not give it a second thought.
My father read me the riot act religiously if my grades were not up to scratch. I can still hear him, “If you don’t study you won’t be independent and you will have to ask your husband for money to buy a pair of tights”. So far so good, how forward my family was for the 60s and all of that. Then the bubble burst when my mother needed to take me out of the country and was told that she needed a letter from her ex-husband my father to take me out of the country. My father could take me wherever the hell he wanted without even telling my mother, it was 1971.
The bubble was well and truly burst and we felt that unequal world take hold of our lives. For those of us who live in the West in secular societies it is easy to think that we are now equal under our constitutions but we only have to look at our own government to see the inequality , if we are not equally represented in gender we are not equal, end of the story line.
If your Ryan Air hostess has no choice to wear a pair of trousers instead of a cute skirt, she is not equal. While toy stores divide your children into heroes and princesses they continue to confine them to particular roles, to more of the same and to inequality. While women continue to think to think that they have to work harder than any man to prove themselves they are not equal. While television commercials put Mothers and daughters marvelling about how economical Fairy liquid bubbles are we are perpetrating the inequality that our foremothers endured at the bloody sink.
I do believe in quotas and I make no apologies for that because we have been think waiting for things to change “naturally “ since the beginning of time and I do want this put right before my demise. I fail to understand why so many resist this concept. As soon as you introduce the idea of having a Government cabinet or a management team that is equally composed of women and men, out come all the capability questions, “Oh we have to chose the best person for the job, regardless of gender “ yes my dears, voices of fears but the vast majority on offer are still men and Eve is still looking for forgiveness for eating that stupid apple.
Time to tell your young sons that that superheroes exist only comics and that the only super power humans have is choice. Tell your daughters that they are not princesses because you are not aristocrats and that privilege by birth is the essence of inequality, gender related or otherwise.