Happy Thursday?

Not really. It’s one of those sort of ‘blah’ days, when the weight and volume of stuff to be done is intimidating and depressing. Worse, I feel guilty for even thinking about feeling sorry for myself: I’m currently reading Robert Fisk’s The Great War for Civilisation: the conquest of the Middle East, which I bought for my birthday (together with Barbara Walker’s A Treasury of Knitting Patterns). He writes with informed authority and passion, his frustration and anger growing ever more clear, and the more I read, the more I feel I too must do ‘something’ if I am to retain any self-respect. But what? I don’t know. So I sit gently fulminating while planning information boards and re-drawing maps of an Ottoman fort in Egypt. And knitting. It’s a strange feeling, having part of my mind tranquilly counting sl1,k1, psso, k5, k2tog… while the rest of it is considering the atrocities we so-called civilised beings inflict on one another. But at least the knitting is proceeding smoothly.

KiriBlue is growing. This will be a birthday gift for the friend who suggested the Personal Shopping experience and joined the fun of the day. It’s Lisa Souza alpaca/silk in ‘Blue Sky’ to complement anything denim, and I’m adding a couple of repeats to ensure she has a shawl big enough to give her a huge warm hug whenever she needs one. There’s also a small swatch of Sundara’s yarn for my sweater. It’s lovely.

As if to take my mind off all this, Alice has tagged me (My first tag! I’m thrilled :-) to list five things that feminism has done for me. I considered this, then realised that when I thought of ‘Feminism’ (with or without the initial cap) the thing that immediately came to mind was a strident Australian voice. There must be more to feminism than that; when did it officially originate? As usual Wikipedia proved helpful. So, in no particular order

Five Things That Feminism Has Done For Me:
1. Modern feminism (as opposed to the legislation of Theodora, a lady ahead of her time) allowed me to continue my academic studies to university level without even considering the fact that there was a time when that would have been impossible. It was taken for granted that I would have the same educational opportunities as my brother, especially as my mother didn’t. Looking back, it might have been different had I been interested in Engineering rather than Ecology. I really wanted to learn how to make stuff, wood and metal-working, but I was not allowed to take Industrial Arts in Junior High, even though I’d found a boy who wanted to take Home Economics to learn to use a sewing machine and bake muffins without tunnels. The school apparently told my parents they feared the mere presence of a girl would distract the boys (moi? They had to be joking). That would have been the late 1960s. Gee, I wish I was there again and knew what I know now… they wouldn’t know what hit them. That’s one thing feminism has done for me :-)

2. Feminism has given me the right to control my body (and by doing so, my future) insofar as that’s possible. I have the right to choose not to have a child, either by using an effective method of birth control other than abstention, or by opting for abortion if that method fails, or I am forced to have sex against my will. I know that to some people some or all of those choices appear obscene, but for me the right not to reproduce is probably the most significant gift of all.

3. Feminism gave me The Vote. There are times when life would be so much easier without this, because then I couldn’t possibly be responsible for the political situation and a lot else. I could sit back and say, hey, nothing to do with me, no one asked me about it. Alas, because of feminism I can’t: I was asked, I voted. I’m not sure it makes much difference but, dammit, people died so that I have the right to Vote and people elsewhere in the world are dying in attempts to gain the right to Vote. So I exercise it, every time. I have the right to share responsibility for the place in which I live.

4. Feminism shaped my character and my life by allowing my mother to divorce my father. If they’d remained married I’d be a completely different person. Better? Worse? Happier? Unhappier? I’ve no idea. But because of them I know that if I were unhappy in this marriage I’d have the right to walk away from it. I think that’s a kind of freedom.

5. Feminism has given me a lot of laughs. That’s what brought Germaine Greer’s voice to mind. Feminist jokes about men, about women, about feminism, about the lack of feminism. Google found this as a basic example. Not forgetting my disbelieving laughter when I first encountered a serious demand for the term ‘Chairperson’. Or ‘Ms’ (“Mzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz”. Sounds like a bee trapped in a curtain). Or the sympathetic laughter a couple of years ago when, after I thanked a man for holding a door open for me, he thanked me for thanking him because the last time he’d done so for a woman with an armful of books she publicly took him to task for assuming she was incapable of opening it herself. A lot of laughs — and a lot to think about.

Each of these brought others to mind. Some little things, but surprisingly significant: the right, or perhaps the expectation that correspondence addressed to me will be addressed to ME, my initials, as in M.Y. Marriedname as opposed to my husband’s initials Mrs. H.I.S. Marriedname. I don’t use Ms; I think it’s ugly. I am simply me, or rarely Mrs. Me. But conversely, I think feminism has put some women in a difficult position, especially those who find fulfillment in simply raising a family and running a house and doing it well. There’s nothing wrong with that, it’s an entirely worthwhile achievement and (I suspect, not having done it myself) very hard work. So why are they supposed to measure themselves against career women?

Anyway, I think I’m supposed to tag someone else for this. Joanne, if you’ve got time I’d be interested in your thoughts!


4 thoughts on “Happy Thursday?

  1. Debby

    That shawl is such a beautiful blue! It’s a sky blue, perfectly bright and clear. I can’t wait to see it finished.Alice tagged me too, so I hope to post my answers in the next day or two. I like your list, particularly #1 & #2. Thank you for sharing with us.


  2. Anonymous

    Thanks, Sarah. I always find your writing and your views very interesting and well-considered. In fact, when I saw how comprehensive your response was, I went to refill my glass and came back to read with relish!I have to say, in addition to the points you made, I really liked the link to the office scenario. In the summary at the end, the point is made that women now feel comfortable in their status and don’t have to be so touchy about it (offering to make the tea, in this instance). I think that’s an important point. To me, it means I can choose to be at home doing all the home-y things without having to feel inferior. It’s ironic, really!


  3. Anonymous

    Completely forgot to say that the shawl is looking beautiful. What a practical but attractive colour. Anything to complement denim is a good idea! And the grey yarn has really caught my eye. I like grey a lot.


  4. Joanne

    Hey! that’s me! What an interesting meme… I’ll have to think about it and post on it. I’m just getting over a big trip to Dallas (4 airplanes, whew!) and it may be a day or two, but I’ll definitely get back to you.



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