Why I think I’m a Feminist

Why I think I’m a feminist – a personal perspective on feminism

I am, without doubt, a feminist. I have subscribed to the belief in the social, economic and political equality of the sexes for almost as long as I can remember. My attitudes have been shaped by my upbringing, influenced by societal expectations and honed by life experience.

I was brought up to believe in equality and in women’s rights.

I grew up in the UK and as a child of the 70s and a young woman of the 80s, my generation’s older sisters had laid the foundations of feminism. Underpinned by new legislation in the 1970s, the Equal Pay Act and the Sex Discrimination Act, women were set on a more equal footing than ever before, but perhaps the biggest trigger for change was the widespread – and free – availability of the contraceptive pill in 1974, which gave women control over their fertility.

Product of an all-girls grammar school, where academic study was actively encouraged and higher education was the goal, I gained a place at university. Although not part of our studies, many of us read Germaine Greer, Simon de Beauvoir and Margaret Mead. We weren’t a generation of militant feminists, but we breathed the air of feminism and equal opportunities.

I’d discovered in my early teens that, due to a heredity condition, having children would not be part of my future. Can’t have / won’t have: a fine distinction. I didn’t have to be one of those women who ‘wanted to have it all’. I could ignore those remarks about being selfish for not wanting to have kids -where does that come from anyway? Not that I wouldn’t defend the right of any woman – or man – to stay at home and bring up their children. But that path was not for me. When the time came, I would have a career and I would be (financially) independent. 

I grabbed the first graduate opportunity that came my way.

I started as trainee underwriter in a large multi-national insurance company, working in an office among some very strong and very capable women. The senior management were all men, but things were changing; women were rising. I worked hard and worked my way up, soon entering a very male-dominated department, whose role was to visit the company’s commercial clients to better assess the underwriting risk and to effect improvements to safety and security. It was a fascinating job.

Only on one occasion, so far as I can remember, did any person comment on my gender. It was a hotelier in Blackpool. She said she was surprised that a woman was doing my job. She was surprised and delighted; more women should be doing jobs like mine!

I undoubtedly worked harder than my male colleagues. 

Unlike most of them, I took all the professional exams and attended all the available courses. I felt that I had to prove I had the ability and the right to be there.

Never during that time did I come across any apparent discrimination until I sought promotion to a higher grade. I was very good at my job and I had passed all the important milestones, but it all went very quiet. Then I ‘happened to’ let slip that I was unable to have children. Lo and behold, within a few months, my promotion was granted. Coincidence? I doubt it.

Spool on another five years and I was responsible for a nationwide team within the same department. Young women were aspiring to join the team and I was both delighted and privileged to mentor some of them. A few years later I received the most gratifying comment in my whole career from one of those women. ‘You gave me the confidence to do this job. You have been an inspiration to many of us.’ That was something I had honestly never considered. I had just been doing my job.

Think I’m a feminist? I know I’m a feminist! Why wouldn’t I be?

Okay, I’ve oversimplified and summarised a lot about my journey; these were just some of the experiences that shaped me as a feminist. But all the conditions were right for me. I was living and working at the right time and the right place. Throughout my working life, opportunities had been opening up for women in business and I was able to grab some of them. 

Now I live in South Africa where there is huge inequality in gender and race. Violence against women is rife and the patriarchal society is alive and well. Had I grown up here, would my attitudes have been different? The situation is complex, but that’s a story for another day.

Author: Chris Hall

Chris Hall is a former insurance professional, who identifies herself as a Storyteller and Accidental Blogger on her website, Luna’s Online. She is the author of 4 books – The Silver Locket, You’ll Never Walk Alone, Following the Green Rabbit and Song of the Sea Goddess, written under the pseudonym Holly Atkins.

Published by Fiery Females

Fiery Females is an initiative to help women Be and Become

27 thoughts on “Why I think I’m a Feminist

  1. Well, non-fiction story telling too then! The stuff you bring up is the stuff of cringe, how could any of that happen one might ask, but I know how and it is still unresolved. I’m not sure if you’re aware of the past 8 mths of appalling politics over here, but the Federal govt is in a mess and in the midst of it is the PMs treatment of women. We’ve dialled back 80 years. Sigh. Thanks for this Chris.

    Liked by 4 people

      1. Our PM has taken Trumps playbook and run with it, trouble is, we’re all so laid back, no one notices or cares, but there is a growing storm that might reflect in the next fed election due early next year.

        Liked by 2 people

  2. Wow that is an amazing journey! Thank you for sharing it with us. Your question about whether you would be different had you been raised in South Africa is an intriguing one. I often wonder they sane thing. How much of us is formed by our early environment and our growing up years? 🤔

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I guess it’s a question we can never answer. I wonder how much I’d have pushed back under a violent and repressive regime. I’m grateful not to have had to put myself to the test.

      Liked by 2 people

  3. cousin bena did not drive nor have kids
    but she was a force
    and would sit in her driveway and wave to the passing cars
    you would have liked her
    she was feminist too
    and she did not even know it

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Chris, The only demonstration I ever participated in was for the ERA. It seems as though it is being resurrected and may be enacted after all these years! I enjoyed your story very much. I had the experience once of training a man to become my supervisor. I was in my twenties then and that experience made me a confirmed feminist. Great post. All the best!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Well done you, Cheryl! I once went on a ‘Women Reclaim the Night’ march in my 20s, but that’s the limit of my demo experience. I’m astonished to learn that the US has been so far behind the curve in gender equality. What little we know about other people’s countries – but I guess that is the point of this site.
      Training a man to become your supervisor… that really takes the cake.
      Have a good week, Cheryl 🙂

      Liked by 2 people

      1. There are already very comprehensive laws to protect civil rights in the US, though things are still not perfect. Back in the day, the ERA, the Equal rights Amendment to the US Constitution, was passed by a large number of states, (36 out of 50, I think) but not quite enough to become law. I am not sure what mechanism they are trying to use to get it finally added to the Constitution. The Biden administration has so much going on right now, it’s hard to keep up! Though the passage of the ERA would probably not result in much change in our laws, symbolically, it would be nice to see the ERA become part of our constitution. 🙂 Take care, Chris!

        Liked by 2 people

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