Life Work

What Feminism Means To Me

March 8, 2015

What is a Feminist?

This morning I tweeted about International Woman’s Day and said simply that I have never been happier to be a girl.

And it is true… this is why.

Pre-separation I didn’t really think much about the concept of the Feminist. I’m ashamed to say that for me at that time it brought to mind men-hating bra-burning women with radical political views and clothes made from hemp.

Back then I was a woman who definitely enjoyed being one, but not for the right reasons. I enjoyed having an interest in clothes and make-up and having doors opened for me, I believed that you had it pretty good if you were supported by a wealthier partner and didn’t really see myself as a strong or powerful person, woman or not. A Feminist to me was someone I would never identify with: a bolshy, potentially offensive and masculine woman. The opposite to myself.

So what is a Feminist?

I had lived with a strong male presence in the same household my whole life – my Dad has always worked very hard and was the breadwinner in my family and then I moved in with my ex-husband at the age of 18, who always earned more than me. As many of us do I associated earning with power and easily fell into my role of the wife: cook, housekeeper and general caretaker. It never crossed my mind that it would possible for me to push forward in my career and achieve that same status or higher; I assumed that as the woman I would be the one to have a baby or two and stay at home to care for them. And this was a life plan I was happy with.

One of the hardest things about my divorce was the deviation of my life from this plan. All of a sudden I was be expected to think ‘like a man’: lead a household, make all the decisions, earn all the money. It was a situation I’d neither pictured or wanted myself to be in and it was terrifying.

On the contrary for me this divorce journey has been hugely positive. I have learned that I am strong, I am capable… that I am a Feminist. Just because I am a woman does not mean I have to fall in with a set of outdated values dictated to me by society. I am not a man-hater but a woman-lover and my gender will not hold me back from being who I want to be.

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie says in her famous essay, We Should All Be Feminists (the first feminist text I ever purchased and very highly recommended, see an excerpt here):
Because I am female, I am expected to aspire to marriage. I am expected to make my life choices always keeping in mind that marriage is the most important… marriage can be a good thing. It can be a source of joy and love and mutual support, but why do we teach girls to aspire to marriage and we don’t teach boys the same?

Valid point


A Feminist is not a woman who hates men. She is not a woman who believes in crushing men, in being all-powerful. To me a Feminist is a woman who has the power to embrace her femininity yet make strong and informed choices about her own working, family and personal life, to know she is able to decide whether she wants to go out to work or raise children, or to work and then raise children and then work again… it’s her decision. The right for a woman to choose to live her life in a way that suits herself and her family best and feel strong and empowered while she’s at it – for me that is Feminism.

Since my split I have a wonderful new appreciation for other woman, the likes of which I hadn’t had before. I was always a guys girl, feeling uncomfortable in the company of women I didn’t know or women who seemed to be by my judgement overly feminine. I was worried of being judged by other women (ironic…), of the bitchiness that I know can be so prevalent in larger groups of women (sadly still true). Give me a group of men over a group of women any day and I would have been happy.

But now I thrive off other women. I enjoy the energy of women, especially that of mothers who, having gone through the inhumane sleep deprivation, hospital stays, teething, disastrous nappy changes and heart expanding love know that our gender can do anything. That is the most important lesson that motherhood has taught me – that our potential as women, each and every one of us, is absolutely limitless. I believe in the sisterhood, that by and large we are here for each other. I feel I belong here and I support my fellow women in our journey in motherhood and life.


The struggle between family and working life is still real and I don’t know how to conquer this. I doubt if any of us will ever discover the answer. I start a new job tomorrow as an Account Director for a Marketing Agency close to home and though I have managed to negotiate less than full time hours I know the juggle will still be difficult. I have the yearning that my children are so young and they need me – the days are long but the years are short – but then I also have the instinct to push push pusht to get ahead, smashing that glass ceiling, working as hard as I can on behalf of me, my family, women of the world and Sheryl Sandberg to show just how good girls are.

want to be out to work, I want to be showing my children by example that they can achieve absolutely anything if they work hard enough and I want to feel proud that I myself worked as hard as I possibly could, every single day.

And I can do that, in lipstick and heels if I want to, because I am a Feminist. It might never be easy but it is real.

Happy International Women’s Day!

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  • Reply Gemma March 8, 2015 at 11:17 pm

    I am so pleased you wrote this Alice, it is so eloquently put. I too am a feminist and proud of it. When I was growing up my Dad always said to me “Don’t ever let anyone tell you that you can’t do something because you’re a girl, because you’re a girl you can do ANYTHING”. It’s stuck with me and has always given me the courage to have faith in my own decisions and a real love of seeing my friends soar and achieve greatness. It is something I aim to pass on to my daughter and to my sons

    Congratulatons on the new job too, that was quick. I’ve only just caught up on the fact you were looking Xxx

    • Reply alice March 10, 2015 at 8:25 pm

      That is such brilliant advice from your dad. I love it.

      And thank-you! x

  • Reply Sarah Rooftops March 9, 2015 at 8:20 am

    This is perfect.

    I’m coming to motherhood from the other end of the spectrum – I’ve always called myself a feminist; I grew up firmly believing that I should never be reliant on a man to pay my way; I’m finding it a bit of an adjustment knowing I won’t be contributing financially for a little while – but my hope is that future generations of girls won’t HAVE a spectrum for this, that equality will just be the accepted norm.

    Best of luck with the job today – hope you love it!

    • Reply alice March 10, 2015 at 8:28 pm

      Yes, I really hope this will be the accepted norm. I hope we’re the start of making our children see this is the norm too! x

  • Reply HonestMum March 9, 2015 at 9:23 am

    Love this and reclaiming and redefining the word ‘feminism’ is crucial. Must note, it’s never had negative associations for me- my Mum is a proud feminist and at 2 gave me a badge to wear that read, ‘Women together are strong’ but it does sadden me how distorted the word has become over the years.

    I was one of only 7% of female directors before becoming a full time blogger, the media (and us) are still suffering with a real lack of women and ethnic voices too, at the helm, writing and directing stories, shining a mirror back at us of what we want to see and the potential of who we can be… It is changing though and you are right, we can damn well be whomever we want to be without shunning our femininity if we choose not to, in the process. Brilliant post as always x

    • Reply alice March 10, 2015 at 8:30 pm

      Lovely to hear a different side of the feminism story x

  • Reply Karen March 9, 2015 at 1:30 pm

    Gosh, this is fab!!!!!!!! Love it. Love it. Love it!

    • Reply alice March 10, 2015 at 8:29 pm

      Thank you Karen! x

  • Reply Jem March 9, 2015 at 2:51 pm

    Great post, and I identify with a lot of it, albeit on a different timeline. I discovered feminism after I had child #1 and realised that if I could push a massive baby head out of my chuff, there wasn’t much I couldn’t do.

    Leaving my partner, whom I earned more than and *did* more than anyway, and finding myself after 12 emotionally abusive years cemented that feminism in my head and no-one will ever take that away from me.

    I am woman, hear me roar!

    • Reply alice March 10, 2015 at 8:31 pm

      Precisely – childbirth practically makes us indestructible!

      It sounds like you are a total woman warrior, Jem. A true inspiration x

  • Reply Muddling Along March 9, 2015 at 4:06 pm

    Yay! Not only to a great post but also to the new job

    I think you have hit the nail on the head – for me feminism is about giving women choices, to work or not, to parent or not and every bit of grey along the way

    • Reply alice March 10, 2015 at 8:32 pm

      Exactly – it’s not about the choices we make but the fact we are able to do this without judgement :) x

  • Reply Kiran March 9, 2015 at 8:34 pm

    Brilliant, perfect, couldn’t agree more.

    • Reply alice March 10, 2015 at 8:32 pm

      Thank-you Kiran :)

  • Reply Metropolitan Mum March 9, 2015 at 9:00 pm

    Great post, Alice! I’ve always been a proud feminist and still am. I supported myself from a very young age – until I became pregnant. I had a very hard time coming to terms with the fact that I was living ‘off’ someone else and have tried to carve out something for myself beyond looking after small children and running a household. With varying degrees of success. Somehow, I felt like I had betrayed the sisterhood, because I didn’t want to go back to a male dominated work environment. For the first time in my life, I didn’t want to smash glass ceilings anymore. I felt so ashamed to have ‘given up’.
    A couple of years down the line, I have finally understood that being a feminist does not necessarily mean donning a power suit and marching up the stairs in a corporate environment. To me, it means having choices without having to justify them in front of anyone.
    Sending lots of love your way. You are doing fantastically well! Dxx

  • Reply Morgana @ butwhymummywhy March 10, 2015 at 10:23 am

    I absolutely love this Alice and could not agree more. Reclaiming the word feminist is so important, and something I’m so aware of especially now that I am a mum. I’m so proud of my girls when they question something, even if it’s just why toys are advertised in a specific way towards girls or boys.
    Congratulations on your job too, very exciting! xx

  • Reply Anna March 10, 2015 at 7:26 pm

    Great post. I especially identified with the part about feeling coder to other women now I am a mother. To use the words of a previous commenter… pushing a massive baby head out of your chuff is something no man will ever understand!! I’m not sure if it’s motherhood or growing up (won’t say the “O” word…) or the blogging community or what but there definitely seems to me to be a rising tide of feminism happening at the moment and it appears to be a lot about mutual support and respect for individual choice, regardless of what those choices may be. Go sisters!! *fist pump & high fives*

  • Reply Anna March 10, 2015 at 7:26 pm

    Coder? *Closer*, Obvs.

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