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Did Somebody Steal Feminism - Or Did We Leave It Behind?

by Kaz
Mar 5, 2007

I was mulling the past over today and had to admit that I have definitely been guilty of leaving feminism behind in the not-so-distant past. Yet, at that time. I was under the misguided idea that I was wholeheartedly a feminist. In actual fact I was allowing men and the world in general to treat me terribly while patting me patronisingly on the back and coughing "sucker" under their breath.

However, after experiencing and finally escaping, my last (and I mean my last) majorly messed up relationship with enough emotional scars to cover a 6ft tall 20 stone body-builder (no mean feat for a 5ft 3" Scottish lassie!) and a bitter streak to rival Bette Davis in Whatever Happened to Baby Jane, I am no longer willing to compromise myself and have now achieved the no BS policy I always coveted from afar.

I realised that in finally refusing to adapt myself, or compromise on what I want from life and what I feel is an acceptable way to treat a human being, that I was starting to understand what feminism really was.

However that did lead to my eyes being opened as to how few examples and role models of this exist in my fellow females. Many of those who really are feminists have only truly learned how from suffering years in the school of hard knocks or, thankfully, have had strong women to guide them through their tentative teenage years.

The pre-feminist part of me allowed my ex to cheat and let myself believe his lies and forgive the betrayal no less than 8 times because, laughably, he had confessed his sins to me! I allowed him to put me down in subtle, and once he had me down-trodden enough, as-subtle-as-a-sledgehammer, ways. No matter what he did, no matter his attempts at manipulation, no matter that I would argue and point out what he was doing, no matter that I could already see what he was (a lying, unfeeling, not at all smart or attractive, toad - the N realisation didn't come until much much later) I would still cave and allow him yet another chance to do it to me all over again.

My inner voice went from little whispers of "there's something not right here" to "FOR GOD'S SAKE WOMAN, GET A GRIP!" over the last few months until finally, after yet another promise made, not really meant, then swiftly broken with almost indecent haste, I eventually listened and ordered him to leave.

Despite all that, I'm not a man-hater. I don't think they are all self-serving, selfish, greedy, using, abusive arseholes who all have hidden agendas to demean and destroy the female species - but neither do I think there is anything wrong with a healthy in-built BS sensor and a hefty dose of cynicism when dealing with men or in fact the world in general.

After freeing myself from my victim role I seem to be seeing examples of eyebrow raising behaviours in so many people, even those I believed for years were strong women.

I must point out that I accept that an adult relationship will involve some level of give and take so I'm not being totally idealistic and black and white in the views I hold BUT I simply must ask the following things:

  • When did things get manipulated back to the way they were in the 1950s with so many women so pleased and grateful if their partner so much as puts the toilet seat down once a week?

  • When did it suddenly become acceptable to stay in a relationship, as does my best friend, where the money she earns is spent on the child, house and food and her master - ..ooops sorry, "partner" - pays her only 150 a month from his 1000+ monthly earnings then squanders the rest on god knows what?

  • Why does Cosmo now print articles on "Pleasing Your Man", pole-dancing, "erotic" dressing, anal sex and Brazilian bikini waxes when it used to relate articles about respecting yourself, getting what you want and need and would teach women that if a man dared to suggest you change anything about you for him then he should be shown the door faster than you can say, "You don't like me as I am? Your loss mate!"

  • Why are we suddenly back to outdated opinions that we need to conform with what is believed to be the weight, size, hairstyle, shoe-size, yada yada, to truly be defined as "attractive"?

  • And the big question -- When did feminism suddenly become a dirty word? Why are there so many women who take it as a criticism?

When I woke up from my attempt to convince myself that I was a feminist by refusing the condone my ex's behaviour and my illusion that I should attempt to change him ... I finally realised 4 important things that I now live by...

  1. Once a cheat, always a cheat - simply because so many of us give them another chance or 10 just because they say "sorry".

  2. If a dog refused to be housetrained and refrain from something that is upsetting you he would be quickly shown the door. The same rule should apply to the person you are with. It's all about setting and sticking to your boundaries.

  3. If a man starts trying to manipulate you into changing something about yourself then there is a simple message behind this, however upsetting this may be at the time - He is NOT the one for you! He is not that into you and still won't be when you have changed yourself completely - except he will now have got the message that he can pretty much do anything the hell he wants to you.

  4. Alarm bells should definitely ring if a man you have been seeing for anything less than 3 months suddenly declares undying love for you. Love, other than that of direct blood relations, takes time to grow and develop. Anything else reeks of lust, obsession and worst of all, manipulation.

I, and many others, may have glimpsed the hell of an unhealthy, abusive or Narcissistic relationship and our scars may be obvious and upsetting to those with no understanding of it, but I myself feel that it has taught me a very valuable lesson.

I used to be scared to be alone, so scared that it didn't matter how much I went through with my ex as long as I was still with him.....I could blame him until I'm blue in the face but by avoiding the fact that it was MY fault for allowing him to do the things he did would mean I would never move on.

Now I've realised that I'm pretty damn great, I love spending time alone with myself.

Suffering and martyrdom brings no reward, no gratitude and no happy ending.

It takes time to realise and amounts to truly loving yourself.

That, I think, is the real essence of Feminism.

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