Becoming a Feminist

As part of the theme #feministfriday, the blogger Translantic Blonde asked this week, “What moment triggered you to say, ‘I am a feminist'”.

To be honest, I am not really sure. I guess I have always been a feminist, but had never considered myself one. A feminist – one of those hairy-legged, dungaree-wearing, elderflower-wine-drinking, hemp-clothed women? That wasn’t me. Sure, I went through a gentle rebellious protest stage in my teens, but I didn’t go on protest marches, I had no strong opinion on feminist topics or politics (although I was always interested in politics in general).

When I moved to Germany, “Feminism” was not something that I was interested in. I would watch Alice Schwarzer on television and, yes sometimes – often – agree with her. When I read about the Frauenbewegung, I did not feel the need to join in, to assert myself.

I think that the first feminist woman who I admired (and this is a slightly embarrassing thing to admit, since she is a fictional figure) was CJ Cregg, the Press Secretary in the West Wing. Who could forget this scene:

After I had my children, I started using the website Mumsnet. For the first time I read about the injustices that women suffered, and wondered if there was something that I could do. The first thread that I really got involved in was one about a young woman who was in Yarls Wood Detention Centre and had her children taken from her, despite the fact that she was breastfeeding the youngest child. It was the first time that I had emailed my MP, the first time I had gotten involved in a political “campaign” of any kind. The activists from Black Womens’ Rape Action Project were successful – Janipher was finally granted leave to stay in UK in 2008.

After this, I became more interested in what we normal women could do to help women in need, to protest against injustices. The Mumsnet Feminist board has grown over the past years. Highlights have included the ill-fated “Career Women Make Bad Mothers” ad campaign thread where Mumsnet activists forced the Outdoor Advertising Agency to remove the slogans from buses.

Twitter has made me even more aware of feminist issues around the globe. This week has been a busy one for feminists, with the Dominque Strass-Kahn alleged rape case and Ken Clarke’s faux pas hitting the headlines. The advent of Social Media means that feminist topics are reaching a wider audience, and it is easier to get involved. No longer cut off on the continent, I can be an “armchair activist”, firing emails to MPs and ministers, blogging and tweeting.

I suppose that this makes it easier for young mothers to get involved in feminist activism and explains the popularity of the Mumsnet feminist board, which is presently the most active feminist chat board in the UK.

My blog started as a way of informing the folks back home about our exciting new adventure in Switzerland, but over time evolved to be more about my opinions, my writing, my interests. My first cautious blog posts on feminist topics were reasonably well received. In the same way that I would not class myself a “mummyblogger”, I have to say that if you are looking for a “feminist blog” then you are in the wrong place here but I will continue to blog on feminist topics in the future.