My little girl, who is four, said something last week which made me grin:
"Mummy, you know, when I am old like you..." [thanks for that, love] "I want to be a mummy – and a builder."
Wonderful, I thought! I was pleased that Ava could contemplate a future for herself which did not involve marrying a prince and wearing sparkly dresses even at breakfast time.
And I imagine many mums want to be able to tell their daughters they can be anything they want to be when they grow up, as long as they put in the effort – and certainly that they will be able to do anything their brother does, should they so desire.
But the dreadful thing is, that's not entirely true, is it? Not yet anyway and it seems a bloody long way off. As it stands, we have some pretty galling things to explain to our daughters. If they hear the call of God, for example, we must tell them they might never be able to serve Him, or mankind, as a bishop.
We must tell them that, even if they work hard, get their grades, and build themselves a terrific career, they are unlikely to be paid as much as their male counterparts. They are significantly less likely to secure a place on the board. And they are going to have something of a fist fight on their hands to gain a seat in Parliament and have a say in how their country is run.
Will my daughter ever be able to comprehend WHY it is okay that pouting women are pictured almost nude, on a daily basis, in our national press? Or will that be something she just grows up accepting as normal?
At what point might I have to sit her down and explain to her that, if she does become a mummy, and she does not forcibly drive away the maternal instinct that tells her to nurture her baby, that she will, in all likelihood, have to sacrifice some, if not all, of the career she has built for herself to that point? That she might have to do what countless women do, year after year – accept that she must, in many ways, have to start all over again?
The outcome of the bishop vote is an interesting one. It would be unfair to wave the misogynist stick at the Church of England as a whole, because the vote was narrowly lost: the majority did vote in favour of women becoming bishops, but the majority was not quite large enough to swing it.
Amazingly, feminism is being blamed for 'undermining the campaign'. Writing in the Telegraph, trainee chaplain Jemima Thackray, said that she felt uncomfortable with the "endless comparisons between the church and the secular workplace and pleas for the church to 'get with the times'".
It is not about women being "treated equally" apparently, it should not be about women demanding recognition for the hard work of the female clergy – it should be about, Thackray says, humility: "They bear little resemblance to how the one who is truly head of the church went about things – the one who 'did not think that being equal with God was something to be grasped, but instead made himself nothing, taking on the very nature of a servant."
So there we have it: feminism shot down again – the point, again, being missed entirely. The POINT is: why can women not be afforded the equal opportunity to demonstrate they can be as humble as the guy who's already got the top job, and the opportunity to be humble?
It's crazy. It's wrong. And would I be able to explain it to my daughter by saying that the (manifestly sexist) scriptures MUST be followed ("I do not permit a woman to teach or to assume authority over a man; she must be quiet")? Hardly, when so much else is ignored, skimmed over and manipulated in adjustment to modern times.
Given that around half the babies born are female, WHY is feminism not working better? Why don't not only mothers, but fathers, fight against a world which will inevitably discriminate against their daughters unless things change?
Are you the father of a girl yourself, dear reader? Does it not sadden you, all the levels on which your daughter will be screwed unless laws and attitudes dramatically change?
I hope, I really hope that by the time Ava is making career choices, if she still wants to be a builder, she can be one, without prejudice or assumptions being made about her sexuality. I hope feminists are not thought of as burly, bullish, crop-haired rottweilers, who are just out to cause trouble, but instead make up every household in the land. I hope changes have been made, so that if my daughter chooses to become a mother, provisions allow her to continue to contribute to society through her work (whatever that may be).
My daughters, and yours, ARE as good and as valid as everyone's sons – and they deserve to be treated as such.
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