...or something similar. I hate memes, or chain letters or whatever they are called and am delighted, for that reason, not to have been included in one of the latest 'tags' to be going round that I noticed at Stroppy land namely: 5 things feminism has done for me.
However, I thought it would be quite a good idea if at least one chap joined in on this one and so I've taken it on myself to go for my top five things feminism has done for me.
Incidentally, without getting into too much of a frenzy of pedantry I wouldn't describe myself as a "feminist" partly because whenever I hear a bloke say they are a feminist I have an irresistible visceral urge to scream "fuck off you tosser!" into their ear and partly because I'm never quite sure how far labels get us anyway.
When people say anything like "As a Marxist I think..." I always think I bet there are loads of Marxists who think the exact opposite, what I wish they'd say instead is "This is what I think, and here's why..." Much the same goes for feminism, there are plenty of self identifying feminists out there, but until you actually hear what they have to say on issues like abortion, men, pornography, marriage and trade unionism you are still in the dark as to what they actually think.
So here goes, five things the feminist movement has done for me
1. The Nuclear family
My personal experience of the nuclear family has not been an entirely, ahem, happy one and the break from the rigid post-Victorian moralism that kept people who didn't love each other within spitting distance of each other is jolly good. Or worse, like my Dad's parents, a social standard that brought them together in the first place despite having no real feelings for one another because getting married and having kids was the thing that was done - I'm not so sad to see the back of that particular zone of emotional disfugurement.
Obviously I'm not for polyamory or anything [shudders theatrically] but the fruits of serial monogamy have been delightful I must say, both in terms of a far healthier way of operating than being locked into a valueless relationship that has run its course and having partners that are both sexually experienced and emotional mature. I assure you dear reader, this does have its benefits.
The right to an abortion, easily available contraception and sex education have not just been welcome steps forward but are absolutely revolutionary in terms of how we live our lives. If it wasn't for this and point one (above) my own life would be quite, quite different today. Whilst I'm certainly not opposed to wives and babies I'm very much in favour of getting to choose when and if they become part of my life.
I'm pretty certain that the 17 year old me would have been a pretty poor husband and father and I'm very glad that, due to the advances that feminism fought for, it never happened. Family planning isn't just something that has enhanced people's sex lives (or simply allowed them to have one) it's a social revolution allowing us to make choices about children, sexual health and orientation that simply were not open to us before.
3. Breaking down barriers to advancement
It may sound strange that allowing women to be promoted into positions that were only available to men previously should be something of benefit to both sexes, or perhaps it doesn't, I don't know, but it certainly seems that way to me. When my Mum was at school not only was she not allowed to take her best subject (Maths) because it was not a girl's subject she was all but forced to become a nurse.
I don't think it's in my interest for my Mum to have lived a life constrained by gender conventions that simply do not suit her temperament. It can hardly be in my interest either that the best person for the job of, say, the heart surgeon who may have to operate on me, has not gone to the best person because gender roles forbid it.
The best person for the job is something that benefits the whole of society, not just the person who gets the position they applied for and, whilst we still have a long way to go to a totally open job market, the difference between my generation and my Mum's is difficult to over state.
4. Learning to cook
How many skills have I got that my father just never will? How many men have no confidence to do the simplest things around the home because they come from a generation which told them it was "women's work" and so they never learned.
I suppose it also has benefits the other way round. I don't have a clue around cars, traditionally only men might have been able to help me spark my alternator, or whatever you do with it, thus limiting the number of people who could help me out when stuck. I hate cleaning the oven though and very rarely do it.
5. Making workplaces habitable
When I left school I went to work in Hayters Lawnmower factory in Spellbrook (Essex) and I thought it was hell on Earth. The job was boring and monotonous, but I could tolerate that, what I found very difficult to cope with was the constant use of the c word, the vile and misogynist tripe that my workmates constantly came out with and the dull as ditch water view on what was and was not homosexual behaviour.
I'm not saying these attitudes have gone away but the progress made at work in terms of professional behaviour has made my life far, far better - and I'd like to thank feminism from the bottom of my heart for that.
It sounds obvious to say but the fact is I've met many women I like, and I enjoy spending time with them as friends - if women are only there to fuck or to cook why would I have ever wanted to talk to them in the first place? I think I would have missed out on some very interesting, funny and challenging conversations over the years that rarely, if ever, strayed onto sewing, wedding dresses or recipes for bread and butter pudding.