‘Tis the weekend of crap telly, hot cross buns, family visits, slight guilt from crashing a religious holiday without belief in its significance, chocolate eggs and the celebration of fertility.
Yes, simultaneous to mourning Christ’s death (proper sad) and resurrection (believe what you will), Easter is also a pagan festival — a time to honour Eostre, the Great Mother Goddess of the Saxon people in Northern Europe; Goddess of fertility (hence the bunny and egg symbolism, and the ambience of spring — a season for mating). Is it a coincidence that such superpowers are attributed to a Goddess and not a God?
It’s funny how the talk of bunnies and eggs leads to the scrutiny of women: “When you gonna settle down and make a man happy?” “When you gonna have kids?” “Why don’t you have kids?” “Its great that you have a fab job and you’re well travelled…but, you’ve got to find a man, and fast.” “You’re still single? Why?! … Never mind. One day, but one day soon yeah?” (often said with a tilt of the head and look of concern).
Naturally, this bombardment of interrogation can take its toll on a woman — make her feel doubtful; unaccomplished; worthless. We’re self critical enough as it is, so to hear such remarks from loved ones, which out of respect, you can only answer with swallowed pride, smiles and silence through gritted teeth, is beyond frustrating.
It’s no wonder why feminism has become magnified and analysed in a world where we’re meant to sustain multi-tasking skills by being all things to all people.
But what does it mean to be a feminist? This question has been workshopped to the point of exhaustion, and yet for so many, the answer remains unclear.
Chimamanda Ngozie Adechi brought some good philosophies to light in her ‘We Should All Be Feminists’ TedTalk. Beyonce’s attempt to take the baton from Adechi has left more questions than answers: I think much of Bey’s lyrical content and imagery contradicts Chimamanda’s ideas…but maybe ‘Queen Bey’s’ business acumen compliments them? I’m still mulling over this…
The nuances and application of the word ‘feminist’ seems culturally and generationally dependent. We (at least in the western world) have contextualised the term via the Queen Esthers’, Boadecias’, Tubmans’, Rosa parks’, Sufferagetts, WW2 women holding down the fort, sexually liberated women of the 60’s, business women of the 80’s, girl power pop sensations of the 90’s — leading to the suggestion that feminism can be a plethora of things, and a discrepancy of sorts.
From an etymological prospective, to be a feminist suggests something of a french, latin, ‘tickled pink’ word, inspired by women, for women, and for the advocacy of equality among women. Over time, the cotton-like, fluffy associations have become evermore deeper —arguably an angry red: A ‘shout’ for freedom — bra burning, martyrdom-by-horse inducing, scary idea. It seems the world cannot be discerning; we only understand things at their most extreme…or are we now evolving?
Recent times have shown us that feminism isn’t a way of behaving; it’s a way of thinking, meaning that its ideology is not attributed to a particular sex, age, faith or background. With that being said, why does it make me sad to know that my mum doesn’t want to label herself a feminist for fear of giving the impression that she doesn’t value her sons? Why do comments re men not wanting to associate themselves with the term ‘feminist’ haunt me? Why am I frustrated by the influx of ignorance vomited from the mouths of simple women, who use the ‘feminist card’ to defame men, and make them feel small with cheap statements like: “Its men causing all the problems in the world…men ain’t shit…I don’t need a man to help me raise my son, they’re all bastards!” (Btw, the woman had her son in the room when she said that. He was about 4 years old; was sat quietly in the corner, deeply concentrated on his toy trucks and colouring books and looked up in shock when he heard those words from his mum — the only woman showing him ‘love’ at this point in life, now chastising him for something he can’t help but be).
I love men. I’m a self-confessed daddy’s girl, I’m in a happy relationship with a man, I have brothers, uncles, cousins and friends whom I love dearly, and it’s because of this, I am a feminist. I do not see them as my ‘masters’; I see them as my equals. And not surprisingly, I resent the women (because in my singledom, I only ever had this from women) who burdened me with the ‘why don’t I have kids or a man yet?’ semi-rhetorics. I felt it was their remarks that represented the confusion and contradictions of the term. And you’d think being engaged would improve the situation, but now I’m lumbered with; “When’s the big day?” “When you gonna have kids?” “Why no kids yet?” My experience (to a point) is best summed up by the words of Zena Agha who says: “We (us ladies) are the principle agents in our own oppression.”
I don’t write this to ‘let the side down’ or draw in readership with poor attempts at controversy. Rather, I write this simply because these are my thoughts and experiences, and I know I’m not alone in thinking that the feminist mind-set needs to be addressed, explored, and discussed among us girls just as much as we expect it from our boys. Only after that, we can reach a higher stage of viewing feminism as genderless.
So, in honour of the spring equinox, can us ladies be allowed to liberate bunny habits (I’m too prudish to be anymore obvious), and be left with our eggs (both chocolate and ovarian) in peace?!