Details of the #52essays2017 Challenge can be found on Vanessa Mártir's blog but, in brief, it's to write one personal essay a week.
There are many ways to re-act to the news of Donald Trump becoming the next President of the USA. As a member of one of those many groups for whom the new Mr President has shown his disdain - women - I decided to re-visit a question I've oft asked myself: am I a feminist, or just anti-misogyny?
The thing is, although I brought my child up alone and have had total financial responsible for us both, I've never considered myself a feminist. I do - wholehearted - believe, support and endorse equality. But there isn't an equivalent term for what I believe I am - why don't we have equalitists, or equalitism?
And yet, our society is clearly patriarchal. But I can't get away from the belief that society is thus shaped because men cannot get pregnant, not even if they undergo hormone treatment and gender re-assignment surgery. And because our bodies - their physical structure, their hormonal make-up, their re-productive systems - haven't changed since the Stone Age, we are stuck with those limitations and that one-dimensionality. Is that horribly inefficient? Well yes, but that's what we've got to work with. So having a situation where men are responsible for being the provider - whether that be of food and shelter, finance, or simply of sperm - individuality and personal choice tends to get lost. Despite knowing there are men for whom the inability to bear a child is a genuine sadness, not having the opportunity is very different from being unable to avoid the responsibility.
But men can father a child - indeed they can keep on being part of the creation process way into old age, whereas biology stops a woman earlier. It's been the reason (or is that the excuse) why older men continue to pair up with younger women, and why men remain the hunters and women the hunted. Check out a dating site and compare the photos of similarly aged men and women - the men look their age, the women mostly do not. Why? Because no man will consider dating a woman who looks as he does. And yet, for so many men, testosterone enables the mirror to lie to them. Here's one woman's response when asked - by a man - why she'd broken one of those rules : Why Am I So Fat?
So we are left with a man who's been voted into becoming the holder of the most powerful office in the land; this despite his crudeness, his inappropriate attitude and behaviour towards women and other "minorities", his childlike need for attention, his lack of financial probity and morality, his total lack of experience and expertise and his bully-boy tactics. The worst part is it wasn't just men who voted him in. But this attitude to women isn't just him, there seems to have been an outbreak. How many women have been verbally attacked online and threatened with actual assault simply for daring to stick their heads above the parapet and express a viewpoint on social media? Shocking isn't it? As is this woman's experience when she joined her husband in the world of role playing games: My First Virtual Reality Groping.
The best answer to my question was found in the words penned by Chimamanda Ngozi Adiche to mark the birth of a daughter to her friend: A Feminist Manifesto in Fifteen Suggestions. There's no ranting, no anti-male rhetoric, just sound advice on teaching a female child to value herself as an equal in a society which doesn't appear to share that view.