I’ve got a new dustpan and brush! It’s so cute – it’s baby blue. And metal, with a huge brush to go with it. It cost about twice as much as a plastic one but because it’s metal, I can scoop warm ashes from the stove into it and dump them on the garden, which is so much better than the previous scoop-them-into-a-cardboard-box-aargh-aargh-it’s-started-smouldering routine that went on in our house before.
I also have a new Leifheit Rotaro sweeper(£59.99 new, £15 second hand!) I must admit I hadn’t intended to go so totally low-tech, but was really looking for an alternative to the big hoover, which was hurting my back. I also find sweeping and brushing really therapeutic and it’s helping polish my terra cotta floor, with which I have a love/hate relationship, up to a shiny finish.
I have to say I really like cleaning. The only problem with cleaning is that it takes time. And if I had the choice I’d rather be reading or writing than cleaning. And since my life priorities to go: work/kids -> school governance -> writing/blogging/reading, and since these things take up almost all my time, cleaning gets pushed right down the line.
But yesterday, I did make space for a bit of therapeutic me-time.
After having to take time off last week for OFSTED, and also because each of the Lovely Daughters had an appointment, I had to leave for work super early in the morning each day. On Wednesday I was practically falling asleep driving in. Thursday was my first normal time start for about a week, so waking up and not having to get up straight away was bliss.
Anyway, that’s where I’ve been all week, at work, trying not to fall asleep.
Although I’ve not been reading or writing, I have been thinking about various things. One of them is this post here: “Men can be feminists but should they?” from the ever thought provoking Leif.
Firstly, my own thoughts are that although I sympathise with and support many feminist causes, I can’t call myself a feminist because to me, being an anything “-ist” implies a total philosophy and orientation of your life style. It implies to me more than the passing interest in feminist theory and literature with feminist themes that I have, my interest being no more urgent than, say, literature on a multi-cultural theme.
Of course I could be wrong on this definition.
Secondly, I do not think that you can call yourself a something “-ist” unless you have lived and experienced that life for yourself. Life as a woman is more complicated than I thought it would be when I embarked upon it aged thirteen/fourteen.
I was reminded of this last Friday. Amongst all the fun and laughter, a common theme emerged among the women there, and that was one of adaptations we had made to the way we lived our lives on behalf of our families in order to have children.
This isn’t true of all of us, of course. In some of our local families, mum has the main job and dad does more of the childcare. But I have found that usually, there is a “reason” for this set up, which is often that mum has the greater earning power. Where a man and a woman have shared a comparable level of education and previous job experience, it seems that the woman by default tends to give way for the good of family life. To them man, it does not usually seem that there is a decision to be made; he just carries on with life as it is. And to what extent do women limit themselves and their career ambitions, through cultural conditioning?
This isn’t supposed in the least to be a moan; trends aside, we all do what we think is best for our lives and our families. It’s just an observation, and I am interested to make this observation because when I was growing up, with all my hopes and future before me, I did not see why we could not all forge an equal society together, where legislation and logic would allow women to have a totally equal chance to compete with men in the job market.
I used to think that I could think my way to the solution for a better society. But now I have been through this realisation that lives look different when you experience and live through them, I have moved towards the opinion that you cannot truly understand something unless you have experienced it. Knowledge, even a very detailed knowledge, is not enough. It’s why, when you meet someone and you come from a similar background or past as they do, you feel affinity, even though you don’t know each other.
So, this is my argument why men can’t be feminists. Because they haven’t experienced the issues around what it is to be a woman.
What do you think? Have I just moved from one over-simplistic view to another?
[I want to say thank you to everyone who has been posting over the last two weeks. I’ve not been able to keep up with everything but all your thoughts have been spinning around in my head with, amongst other things, the above results.]