Why FEM Apparel - Part 2
You’ve already met the male half of FEM apparel. I am the female half. I am just shy of 40 years old and have finally reached a point in my life and career where I can take a little breather. I have missed out on a lot in life to get here and I have absolutely no regrets. No regrets, but definitely a few tender spots. Maybe one day I’ll tell you more about them, but for now, I want to tell you my WHY for FEM apparel.
At this point in life I’m just enjoying being able to coast a little and feel gratitude that I am one of the fortunate ones. I had supportive parents, I live in a country that allows women access to education, I have strong female role models.
My studies and work didn’t allow me much down time and so I didn’t watch movies, read the news outside of my discipline, or do much in the realm of social media. I regret to say that #metoo was well underway before I became aware of the movement. What a great and inspiring movement!
As I listened to women’s stories, I began to realize that sexual violence isn’t just about date rape drugs, consent, and human trafficking. It’s about the violence and inequality that pervades our culture, workplaces, family lives, social media . . . it’s everywhere. And I realized ME FUCKING TOO!!
Me fucking too and it’s not okay. It’s not okay to ever be told “let the men handle it”. It’s not okay to be asked “are you going to take a maternity leave” and when I say no, it’s not okay to tell me “you’ll change your mind”. It’s not okay that I choose my outfits based on who will be at a meeting to ensure that I get a voice at the table. And when I ‘m too tired to put in the effort it’s not okay to be told “you’re working too hard you look like shit”.
It’s not okay to make comments on my body shape. It’s not okay to be called “bossy” or “bitch” or “crazy” or “emotional”. I used to say, in response to being called a bitch, “you say I’m a bitch like it’s a bad thing!”. I thought that was a pretty good comeback.
But you know what? It IS a bad thing. You could call me anything you want but if you mean it in a way that is meant to be derogatory to me as a female member of the human race then that’s abhorrent. Thinking about things that happened to me in the past makes me angry and also proud. Angry that it happened. And proud that I rose above and made it this far.
But it also makes me scared. I don’t want these two little girls who have sprung into my life to have to take any of this garbage into consideration when they make education and career choices. I’m afraid that they will be told to take a step back and let the boys try it.
I’m afraid they will consider who is going to be at the table when picking out an outfit for a job interview. I’m afraid that their access to reproductive choice will be limited and I’m scared that they will be shamed for what ever choice they choose. These “hurdles” they will undoubtedly face (that their male counterparts will not) are a disadvantage to their bright futures.
And that fear far surpasses the anger. Anger is good sometimes. It lights a fire in our hearts. But to let that fire burn with anger is to create more hatred and intolerance in our world. Anger can light the fire. But the fire that will sustain this movement needs to be fuelled with kindness, compassion, empathy and understanding.
I’ve learned this the hard way. Closing my ears to the “other side” has always been a disadvantage to me. Instead, I now approach problems with curiosity. I want to know what the issue truly is, fully understand it and where is comes from, and then eliminate it. I want to replace hateful language, fighting, and debate with dialogue and respectful communication.
I want equal access to education and jobs to become the norm not the exception. I want every one to be aware of the inherent bias in our world and I want those who have the deepest intolerance to become uncontrollably curious about what the world would be like if we showed more acceptance and love for each other.
I don't want one solution. We are all different and equality doesn't mean "same". I want gender equality in all of it’s forms for everyone in the rainbow of humanity. I know that’s a lot to ask and sounds very idealistic. But the only other option would be to stick with the status quo and I just can’t do that.
So I choose to challenge people to think of me as an “alpha” despite the fact that I don’t look like the stereotypical “alpha wolf”, or to imagine what the future would look like with ALL female leaders. I want to hear their thoughts and explore their rational so that I can break stereotypes, challenge myths and create a culture of inclusiveness.
I want to positively contribute to the forces already at work and help tip the scales to a more equitable future for all genders. To quote my hero, Marie Curie, who blew gender norms right out of the water "Nothing in life is to be feared. It is only to be understood."