I am currently starring in a play that I am taking to the Edinburgh festival this summer. It's a one-woman show that fearlessly examines feminism. Its called; 'Touched... Like A Virgin', its written by Zoe Lewis. It follows the journey of a thirty something woman called Lesley who is so busy being 'independent' and uses her career and active social life as a way of running away from the things she REALLY wants in life; kids and a family. Spending so much time studying the script REALLY got me thinking about the emotional state of the modern woman, and the journey we have come on in the last thirty years.
I have to admit it - I was never really much of a feminist! If I'm being even more honest I spent most my twenties not really understanding the concept, nor even thinking about it for that matter.
Like most flat chested high-pitched cocky young girls - I thought I had it ALL figured out, and when I needed advice I went to the people I could trust the most; my Mum and Grandma. Coming from a close knit Jewish family there was literally nothing my Mum or Grandma didn't know about me... or made it their business to know. They were in such cahoots with each other that something would happen in the house i.e.; I decided I no longer liked tuna fish, no big deal, just went off it. Then I would phone my Nan to ask how she was, no sooner had she answered the phone she would say; 'I hear you're not eating Tuna anymore?' and then; 'WHY' (to picture this properly you must imagine the Jewish hands gesticulating wildly, thanks)
In my mid twenties I had my first long-term boyfriend, he was, as one could describe...finicky, controlling and unreasonable. I recognize this now, but at the time he wore a SUIT owned a CAR and had a JOB so my grandma announced that he really was a keeper! Which meant any time I went to her for advice over our many rows she would invariably always take his side, as he was OLDER THAN ME AND HAD A JOB (I was a student at the time) So when I went to Grandma with the latest issue in the relationship she naturally took his side, a conversation which went a bit like this 'Grandma, he wakes up for work very early in the morning and he expects me to get up with him and immediately make him a cup of tea! And if I don't do it he sulks all day and ignores me!'
To me, even in my youth/stupidity this seemed massively unreasonable, but what came out of my nans mouth was really quite remarkable (imagine the Jewish hands gesticulating wildly again, thanks) 'Why cant you get up early with him EVERY morning and make him tea? Just keep your mouth shut and get on with it, DON'T ROCK THE BOAT!' So I did what any self- respecting girl would do...I ROCKED THE BOAT. I refused to make tea; we broke up, best decision ever. However early morning tea hasn't tasted quite the same since, shame.
It was at this juncture that I started analyzing where this seemingly terrible advice was coming from, why did the women in my family always take the boyfriends side? And why were they so scared of me ROCKING THAT BLOODY BOAT! While I loved them very much and knew their hearts were in the right place it was starting to become clear to me that their views were outdated. When I started speaking to my friends about this they all shared similar experiences, as the majority of their mothers were from the generation of stay at home Mum. Now, don't misunderstand me I'm not saying there is anything wrong with staying at home to raise a family, BUT if you are financially dependent on your husband and you are in a BAD relationship it might have bought rise to the 'DON'T ROCK THE BOAT' mentality. Which by its very nature is submissive.
To the lovely ladies in my family feminism is a concept that likely means; 'Be more feminine, wear more lace, use talc with a big puff sponge'. Talc I hear you scoff? Well yes actually, my Nan has one of these old-fashioned talc devices that one administers with a big puff sponge, it's quite a sight. In-fact she still has it now (its ONLY forty years old) and every time I go round there she demands; 'Go upstairs for a bath then use the TALC' I never do. It's an ongoing saga.
But I digress. You see it took me a while to work out that I am very different from most of the other women in my family. I am the first woman in my family to have a career, I am also the first financially Independent woman in my family (imagine me gesticulating my big fat Jewish hands wildly, thanks) Its no big deal, I'm not saying I'm rich but I do now OWN MY OWN CAR. I'm basically like a lot of modern women out there at the moment who have a career and love it! WOOHOOO go women who own cars and have careers...we rock!!!
But wait a bloody minuet here, if we are now so independent financially why do I still hear so many of my unmarried and childless girl friends (I am unmarried with no kids yet) whimper; 'Well I'm waiting for him to call me back' or even better 'I'm waiting for him to decide he wants a girlfriend and hopefully if I wait around long enough and give him mind blowing sex on a tap he will choose me!" and of course the golden nugget that is; 'I'm waiting for him to propose'!
Seems to me that women have come a long way in being financially independent but still have the rest of their lives on hold waiting for men to take control as they may be too scared to ask for very things they REALLY want and need from a man emotionally incase they ROCK THE BOAT! (i.e.; scare him away)
Much like my Nan who was trying to tell me to put up with bad behavior because she came from a generation of women where it was much better to have a man than be on your own, because that meant you would be looked after financially. The modern woman has come along way since then and many of us sisters (clicks fingers) own our own homes & cars & buy our own designer handbags...So why oh WHY are so many women still looking to men for emotional security, the amount of times I hear single girls say 'Does he love me?' 'Does he wanna shag me?' 'Does he want kids?' When we make it about what the men want, we become submissive again just like my Nan's generation, it's exhausting!
How about we own our feelings more, how about we ask ourselves 'Do I love him? 'Do I wanna shag him?' and 'Do I want kids with him?' And if the answer is yes to any of the above I suggest you (whoever 'you' may be, maybe a woman who is reading this unsure of her relationship) GO FOR IT. ROCK THAT BLOODY BOAT UNTIL IT TIPS AND ALL THE TREASURES SPILL OUT. OK, admittedly I have dragged this metaphor of the rocking boat out for the purposes of this point. Also notice how it's now a pirate boat with treasure on it, nice work Lee. So, if you let me continue...think of the treasure on that boat as your future, and that if you don't go for what you want you might not find it!
Now again let me add the caveat that not all women or men are like this (i.e.; useless) but it seems to me for every one married friend with kids that I have, there are still single gals floundering. Maybe some people are just useless, maybe I am wrong (could be that!) or maybe.... just maybe a lot of women are still afraid to ask for exactly what they want from a man and still give men way too much power over them. I don't want to come off as a man hater here, I am very fond of men and have a lovely boyfriend, its not their fault some women don't have the balls to ask for their emotional needs to be met! So, I suppose I'm having a moan at women who are too afraid to ROCK THE BOAT, sorry ladies, I'm sure you are lovely etc... but grow a pair!
So, with that in mind its time for me to get out my shriveled scrotum and tackle the mighty challenge ahead that is this one woman show, truth be known I'm petrified! But I'm going to be a proper feminist and GET ON WITH IT, boat rocking an all!
If you fancy coming to see it here are the details;