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Vandalism for my daughter’s sake

I was sitting on the train today and scoped out the poster above my head for a leading political rag. The cartoon depicted a husband reading a business paper and the wife in the doorway heaving in a load of shopping. My blood boiled, I grabbed a pen and in full view of the packed carriage scrawled “for the everyday male chauvinist” under the title. A second later I wished I had written “The 1950’s called; they want their sexist sterotypes back” but I didn’t have any Tippex on me.

It has been a while since I have taken any direct action in the name of gender equality. The last time was at the Salvation Army Headquarters in New Zealand when I took down the framed photo of William Booth above the plaque “Founder of the Salvation Army” and replaced it with Catherine and William- for she is the oft overlooked brains behind the outfit. That was really quite tame and courteous and about 6 years ago.

But since becoming a mother I have seen the world with fresh eyes, and Ramona is growing up in place with more limitations and adverse expectations due to gender then I was, that is for sure.

It’s in the quite superficial things – when I was a kid, everyone wore brown and orange, nowadays you have to work really hard to find colours other than pink and blue and shapes other than butterflies and tractors (and flipping heck, Ramona would look brilliant in a little brown and orange number.)  But also in the wider story -when my mother was bringing me up she had a consciousness about gender inequality, it was a fight being fought. Now we say we are “post feminist” and to oppose porn or point out subtle sexist messaging is to be too prim or politically correct. And then there is the not so subtle messaging – one of the UK’s biggest menswear shops, Topman, bringing out some completely misogynous  tee shirts– and the chorus of “Why all the fuss? We are post-feminist!” greeting the initial furor (Even the comments on that incredible Guardian piece reveal this – mostly arguing about whether the slogans were funny or not. WHAT THE HELL?)

I don’t know if it was the Topman t-shirts story knocking around my head or the fact that I am reading Female Chauvinist Pigs that moved my anger at that poster into action but I know that I vandalised it for Ramona’s sake.  (Ramona made me do it!) I don’t want Ramona to grow up thinking that women shop and men read buisness newspapers; I want Ramona to have a host of female role models in politics or the engineering industry,  to be able to walk around without feeling that her body is a commodity, to get paid as much as her male counterparts. It is great that the Topman story went big but there are a million everyday things that don’t even get addressed at all that make all those things much less likely to become a reality in her lifetime.

So this is me now –  never without a big black marker pen (and a bottle of Tippex for those moments when the wit arrives too late) to start addressing those little things. Any other mothers out there want to unleash your inner vandal?

15 responses »

  1. Oh Lucy! You crack me up;)

    I did like that line “The 1950′s called; they want their sexist sterotypes back”.. but I think what you actually wrote was more to the love love

    I’m not a mother but totally hear you on the “post feminist” what’s really wrong with porn?” Oh Naomi you’re such a prude” voices out there..

    .. may we be blessed with anger at injustice and so that we work for justice and peace.. as what she is criticized for doing yesterday she is ridiculed for not doing today- Edith Wharton


  2. Deborah the Closet Monster

    I love that closing image. What I don’t love is the term “post-feminist,” which I hadn’t heard until now. Is there equality between the sexes, with 100% of people everywhere free to live the lives they choose free of harassment? The answer to that is, of course, a resounding “no,” which means feminism has a long way to go until it can be retired in favor of a “post-feminist” world.

    Apart from the car image here, I haven’t yet seen anything that made me want to set free my inner vandal. But being a mom has certainly made me cognizant of all the things I do and don’t want my little boy to either oft witness or ever perpetuate, as well as more vocal about questioning and raising concerns as they arise.

    • Hi
      Thanks for your comment. It is immense how having a child does this. I almost feel that by not challenging some of this stuff we are almost compliant. And that is something I don’t want Ramona to see in her mother.
      Nice blog btw

  3. i loved female chauvinist pigs – great book. also now reading ‘living dolls’ which is also good at outlining the normalisation of the sex industry and how the idea of emancipation has been utterly distorted. anyway got to head off to work 🙂 much love to you x

    • Hey Nina,
      I am struggling with FCH, it is just so, so horrendous. I think not having a tv keeps you in the dark a little and I think I almost like it that way?!
      Look forward to reading more on your blog though

  4. Lucy – When i first saw the title and the image ‘ I was like noooo, lucy spray painted a billboard!’ and although what you did is still cool – this has to be your next challenge!
    Always love your posts mate! hope you and the family are well!x

  5. ‘Any other mothers out there want to unleash your inner vandal?’

    Can the Dads too?

  6. Yes, I often want to unleash my inner vandal. I have a son and I think it’s just as important that boys don’t grow up thinking this rubbish is normal either! Love the way you’ve written about it. I feel very strongly that girls and boys should see their mothers “being out in the world” for want of a better expression and not just “heaving the shopping around”, as you say. Don’t think I’m brave enough to spray paint a poster (although you are right, if you are dressed for it, you probably won’t get questioned!) but I have spent a furious hour in a coffee shop correcting advertising cards or some such that I found offensive. I couldn’t get through them all, I ran out of time! Love your blog. Polly.

    • Hey Polly, thanks for your comment, love your furious hour! I think it is actually quite easy to be desensitised to it all. Having Ramona has totally helped me see things afresh and things, Woah, that is so not on.
      I actually think it is possibly MORE important for our boys to be bought up with a passion for gender equality/ challenging stereotypes as it is only when both men and women fight the issue that things might ger fixed.
      So good work!

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