I hear all the time that the woman has chosen to stay at home and look after the children, while the man has chosen to go to work. Given all these overt and subtle pressures, I wonder whether these are really free choices at all. The only solution is for men to actively take up the mantle of childcare, right from the very earliest days of our children's life.
18 months ago, I walked out on my publisher, HarperCollins, because I was sick of seeing my novels getting packaged as frivolous, girly 'chick lit'. This week, eminent British children's author Jacqueline Wilson spoke out about the pink covers assigned to her books, which 'pigeonholed' girls and put off boys. And now, young adult author Maureen Johnson has come up with the #CoverFlip challenge in which she encouraged her 78,000 followers to take a well-known book, then imagine what that cover might look like if the author's gender were flipped.
Feminism still feels like someone rescuing me from the patriarchy so that I may be told what to do by 'sisters' who need to get their opinions out of my knickers. The banning of jelly wrestling would bother me less if I didn't think it was symptomatic of a feminism that will fight for your right to choose until it no longer trusts you with that right.
The feeling that I can't shake is that she has been alienated by feminism and the stigma that surrounds it. I am happy to admit to being a feminist, because I have my own personal interpretation of its meaning. Obviously feminism stands for the freedom to choose, and choosing to be one should be included in that.
I'll let you into a little secret. I pretend to be someone I'm not all day every day, but it's a bigger act than faux diligence at work. I pretend to be a man. No, its not a transgender issue. I mean being a man in the traditional day-seizing, lady-killing, shelf-putter-uppering sense of the word. I'm not bad at pretending, and for the most part, people seem to believe me.
When my eldest was first born, I used to spend countless hours reading 'educational' news articles with titles like 'Why Women Mess Kids Up', 'Why Food is Evil for Children' and 'Why Mothers are to Blame for the Demise of Modern Society'. These conflicted 'expert voices' all agreed on just one thing; that 'whatever you do for your kids, it is WRONG.'