Over the past 18 months or so, the world's media has become focused on feminism and what it really means to be feminist. While I've always thought being a feminist meant you are a person who simply supports equal rights for men and women, it seems there's a lot more to it.
I can barely open a newspaper/turn on my computer without seeing an article about what it takes to be a feminist. If only they all didn't contradict each other and make me feel shit about myself.
For example, if recent features - not to mention Cameron Diaz - are to be believed, you're not a feminist unless you grow a 1970s bush. On top of that, others suggest committing yourself to a man-and-child-free life is necessary to avoid the gender stereotypes holding us back. However, if other features are to be taken as gospel it's okay to trim your lady garden and fine to get married. As long as you don't take his name.
My brain is fried. I'm confused. And I need these questions answered...
1. Can I get married and still be a feminist?
Amy Glass claimed in a recent article on Thought Catalog getting married isn't an achievement, stating: "You will never have the time, energy, freedom or mobility to be exceptional if you have a husband." Right, noted.
Meanwhile Zoe Holman's piece on marriage in the Guardian sees nothing wrong with tying the knot but only if women keep their maiden name. Married woman have, according to Holman, "been cast off for the happy tags of 'Mrs X', as if to proclaim 'forget who I was before - I am now loved, wanted and owned by a MAN!'."
I understand historically marriage is tied up with patriarchy, but in the present day I'd like to think it's more about love. Just last week I was at a friend's engagement party, it was a traditional Turkish do and involved a lot of dancing and ceremonial cake-eating. In essence, it was a celebration of love. Is it anti-feminist to fall in love and want to get married? Making a commitment to another person doesn't mean you're giving them ownership of you anymore.
As for changing your surname, if you've a problem with taking on your husband's then surely you've a problem with keeping your father's in the first place.
2. Can I remove my body hair and still be a feminist?
According to Cameron Diaz and American Apparel the bush is back. On top of this, a UK Medix poll recently found 50% of UK women do not groom down there at all. So, the days of the neatly-groomed fanny are gone and we're all very good feminists for not letting the thought of some man going down on a hairy fairy force us to reach for the Veet.
But hang on a second. I'd like to know who Medix are polling. The over seventies? The pre-pubescent? I don't know a single woman who doesn't trim or totally remove their pubes. And other women telling us to keep the bush is just as annoying as the porn and beauty industry telling us to wax it off.
3. Can I have a child and still be a feminist?
While many would be disinclined to suggest being a mother and a feminist is nigh on impossible, there is a hostility towards women with children from online feminist writers that's hard to ignore.
I'm so far away from having kids, and sometimes I question whether it's for me at all. But I'm fed up with feeling a pang of guilt when I find myself cooing at pictures of babies cuddling dogs on Instagram. "Bad feminist! You can't stand up for equality if you consider birthing a child."
In short, I'm sick of other women telling me how to think, live my life and deal with my bush. I don't see how it's getting us closer to the ultimate goal: equality. At the end of the day, who's telling men what to do with their pubic hair, reproductive abilities and right to marry? No one - so why should I listen to you?