It’s time to come out of the closet…

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I had something completely different planned for this week’s post, but I read an article this morning by Clementine Ford, and I was moved to action. The article was called ‘I was a teenage non-feminist’ – and was written in response to this dastardly website ‘Women Against Feminism’, where women post photos of themselves holding up a sign explaining why they don’t need feminism. Nauseating statements like ‘I don’t need feminism because I like to be treated like a lady, by a gentlemen’ – sorry, when did you say you were born? Are you sure it wasn’t 1933?

And ‘I don’t need feminism because my boyfriend treats me right’. Well, bully for you! Happy for you, but what about your best friend whose boyfriend doesn’t treat her right? This is the underpinning argument of Ford’s article. Just because you are secure in how you are treated as a woman should not mean that there is no fight to fight.

Ford explains that the ‘Women Against Feminism’ movement has completely misunderstood what being a feminist means. She explains ‘Part of feminism’s core mission statement is to advocate for a world in which all women, not just some, are given equal opportunities and respect.’ It’s not a global anti-men movement, but a movement that advocates for global equality.

I can recall a tram ride home from University nearly 15 years ago. There was a young woman on the tram with her friend and she was explaining to her friend why she didn’t have to be a feminist. She said ‘My Mum was a feminist. So thanks to her, I don’t need to be’. Even back then, I was alarmed at such a declaration and turned to look at this woman, just to get a visual on what a person who would say such a thing, might look like. She looked just like you and me. Educated, well off and articulate.

But what was interesting about this conversation that I wasn’t a part of, like Clementine Ford, I’d never called myself a feminist. But if it did one thing that day, eavesdropping on that conversation, it confirmed to me that I was indeed, a feminist. So today, I come out of the closet properly. You should to.

I’ll tell you why I’m being a little bit bossy about this. We are fighting a good fight, but let me tell you, the road is long and fraught, and really we are in the very early stages. There is no doubt that I have benefited enormously from the first wave of feminism.

I do believe if I was born a generation or two earlier I would be one of those gin-soaked, valium addicted mothers, imprisoned by my own life. I know this simply because I did try to be a stay-at-home Mum, for a while. After about 16 months I was nearly demented by it. So thankfully, the path forged so far by the sisterhood means that I’ve managed to avoid the gin/valium path – at this stage anyway.

You should come out of the closet to. If you have daughters, continue forging the path for them. If you have sons show them why its important to treat women equally – one day they may have wives and daughters themselves, but if not, they will always have a mother, who deserve equality. But look beyond your backyard and be outraged by what you see.

In India, a woman is raped every 20 minutes

In Afghanistan, more than half of marriages involve a child bride (under the age of 16)

In Mali, one in ten women die in child birth

Genital mutilation is not a thing of the past. More than 125 million girls and women alive today have been undergone genital mutilation, in the 29 countries in Africa and Middle East where it is most prevalent.

Now, I don’t mean to alarm you with these statistics, but this is what is happening with women, and to women, all over the world. And before you shake your head and say ‘well, not here in Australia’, I’ll tell you this:

In Australia, it will take 75 years before women receive equal pay to men 

Just over 16% of women in Australia & New Zealand have been sexually assaulted, and that doesn’t account for the women who don’t report it

Melbourne’s Royal Women’s Hospital says it is seeing between 600 and 700 women each year who have experienced genital mutilation in some form

The National Children’s and Youth Law Centre has identified 250 cases of under-age marriage over the past 24 months.

One woman is killed every week in Australia, by a current or former partner

Between five and ten per cent of Australian women experienced at least one incident of physical and/or sexual violence by a man, in a 12 month period.

So it is happening here. These horrors may not be as prevalent, but they are still happening. So, I’m urging you to come out of the closet with your feminism. Challenge misogyny and passive sexism, point out to your sons and daughters that chauvinistic acts are not ok. Just chip away, and do it knowing that its not just for the good of the sisterhood, but for the liberation of all.

Busy? Don’t be.

 

 

Everyone is busy, it’s a way of life. But one thing we all fail at in such a momentous way is not being busy. I read a great article by Tyler Ward  ‘Busy Isn’t Respectable Anymore’. The article explains that we wear busy like a badge of honour. When someone asks how we are, we answer ‘ so busy!’, like we’re proud of it. How did we come to this?

 

And there’s a little bit of disdain reserved just for those who have managed to carve out a bit of spare time: ‘well it’s fine for her, all her children are at school’ or ‘they don’t have kids – say no more!’ Sound familiar? What this disdain actually says is ‘My life is so damned full, I am so important, you on the other hand are not as in demand as me! Thank you very much.’

 

Why do we think concessions should be made for busy people? Why is it an excuse to not be present, to not put in the effort to things we claim are important to us, because we are busy? Busyness doesn’t cut it for me anymore. The term has been overused and has lost its meaning.

 

Tyler Ward proposes some interesting ways to look at your busy life, I’ve built on those to help you make the choice not to be:

 

  • Busyness can be a sign of not being able to manage your time very well – it’s the classic case of the person who’s always in at work early and last to leave, feeling hard done by because they spend more time at the office than anyone else in the team. But really, this person is checking their email every ten minutes, popping out for a coffee break or cigarette break, stopping by to chat to a colleague – in short, not using their time very well. Ask yourself how you are using your time. Being busy is not the same as being productive, remind yourself of this.

 

  • Being busy can be a sign of negative self-worth. The reasoning behind this one is that being busy can make you feel important, that you’re contributing something. The truth is, you don’t have to be insanely busy to make a worthwhile contribution. Setting boundaries around your contribution to society does not de-value it, in fact it increases it’s value as it is an acknowledgement that you value yourself enough to make space for what is really important to you.

 

  • Busyness can actually impair your performance and compromise your mental capacity. As much as we’d all like to believe the contrary, the brain and the body need down time to repair and regenerate cells. Making space in your life and your mind allows your brain to function at its optimum – when there’s too much crammed in to your grey matter, things start feeling a little squashed, which in turn alters your perspective and your perceptions. Give your brain the space it needs in order to sharpen your focus.

 

  • Being busy is an addiction, just like drugs or alcohol, that is used to distract us from the important things in life. We got busy slowly. Like an addiction, it crept up on us. Then suddenly, we’re all SO busy and SO addicted to being busy. Can you say NO to being busy? Or are you addicted. I’ll admit it, the thought of not being busy actually makes me a little bit uncomfortable, almost like it’s unfathomable. Sort of like the proposition, to an alcoholic, of never drinking again. Unfathomable.

 

 

The way of our modern world means we need to make a purposeful choice to stop and to re-engage on a personal level. It’s all interconnected with mindfulness and the slow movement, and according to Ariana Huffington, in Thrive, it is a new metric for measuring success. This new metric consists of four pillars: well-being, wisdom, wonder, and giving. It sits alongside the other two traditional metrics of success; money and power.

 

These concepts are not new, nor are they ground-breaking in any way. But if they do take hold, and become a new metric for measuring success, the world we all inhabit will be a much grander place to be. Simple, accessible concepts resonate with me.

 

The magic of this metric lies in the very possibility that if you achieve this new metric of well-being, wisdom, wonder and giving, the other two metrics, I think, will diminish in value.

 

Being so busy that you neglect your friends or family, or your art, or your fitness, or whatever it is that makes you truly contented, will be a thing of the past. I like this idea more than I dislike the discomfort of not being busy.

 

What about you? Are you a slave to being busy?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fear or Love – What Are You Choosing?

About a year ago I decided that life was too short to hope that one day things might change for me. Well rather than suddenly decide, it hit me like a brick, slap bang in the middle of my head. It came in the form of losing my Mum.

Prior to that, it wasn’t even really a conscious thought that I was looking for anything else. I’m blissfully happy with my husband and my children, we have everything we need. I had a job to return to after my maternity leave, as an editor in a business writing firm. That was good, great, in fact. There were things I didn’t like about it (like the commute), but mostly I was pretty happy with my job.

I’d done a Masters in Editing & Communications, so I was right on the path that I’d envisaged. Except that secretly, I really wanted to write, not edit. There were a few opportunities for me to do some writing, given it’s a writing firm that I work for, and I relished them.

But there was one issue, I was too scared to really give it a go. But those moments between my editing duties, where I got to write a feature for the website or a business magazine, I was in my element. But I had this internal dialogue going on. I’m sure some of you will recognise it.

Me: I love this writing thing. It really is what I want to do.

Other me: You’re shit! Don’t be ridiculous. Get on with your job. You have an editing deadline.

Me: I’m sure I’m not that bad, I’ve had some stuff published, surely your work doesn’t get published if you’re shit.

Other me: You’re shit. Forget it. It was a fluke.

Me: Hmmm. OK. I’m shit. Get back to your editing deadline.

And so it went. The number of times I had this internal conversation between me and myself, I can’t tell you. Then Mum died.

And yes, life really is separated into two distinct categories for me at the moment: When Mum Was Alive and After Mum Died. I got to thinking, Mum was 71 when she died; no spring chicken, but not particularly old. And I thought ‘If I die at the same stage of life that Mum did, I am over half way through my life’. That, my friends, is a very sobering thought. She still had lots of living left to do. ’Lordy’, I thought, ‘I need to make it count. From now.’

And so here I am. I still have my job as an editor, but I only do it one day a week. On another day, my youngest goes to day care and I work from home while the older two are at school, carving out my writing career. Success is elusive, but also subjective, so it’s not a metric I’m interested in measuring at this early stage. But the deep sense of satisfaction I get from doing this, I’ll boldly say, makes me a better person.

Better, in that I’m finally being honest, I can look at my husband and my children and honestly say that you must do what you love. But I can say it, and mean it, not say it but secretly wish I was doing it. It is vitally important, because you only get one chance and it is fleeting, at best.

There’s no hankering feeling anymore; and that’s a revelation. I recall a conversation with a friend, when I was telling her of my new plans to strike out on my own, doing something I’ve wanted to do for a long time. I told her I was scared. Her response was simplistic, but completely accurate ‘It’s either fear or love that holds us back’. So when you don’t choose love, you automatically choose fear.

I get it that life is much more complex than this, but ultimately, when you distill all your reasons for not doing something important, more often that not, it is fear that’s in the driver’s seat.
While it’s never easy to learn from someone else’s experiences (life is best learned in your own boots) but if you’re open to it, I would urge you not to wait for your own ‘brick in the head’ moment. Put your fears aside and make the most of your transitory time here. It’s incredibly freeing. And the best thing about it? You choose.

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