On Medium: ‘The Five Stages Of My Feminist Grief’ (excerpt)

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An excerpt from recent piece I wrote on Medium: ‘The Five Stages Of My Feminist Grief’

“I turned 39, and stared at myself in the mirror. I studied carefully the lines that had begun to etch their way across my features, and the way everything seemed to be gradually giving itself over to the power of gravity. The woman staring back at me was a daughter, a sister, a wife, and a mother-of-two. A former administrator, a former lettings agent, and a former charity leader. She had always been a writer. She was me, and that prompted feelings of both pride and a deep, searing, feminist grief — pride at having reached the place I’m in now, and feminist grief over…well, all of it.

Because, you see, I am not what I used to be – and nor is my feminism. As a young girl, my feminism was primarily concerned with representation — with what I could see. I could see that the majority of people in government, on television, in film, and in positions of authority in my school, were able-bodied white men. I could see that the majority of people on magazine covers were slim, able-bodied white women. I couldn’t see myself in the former, and I couldn’t identify with the latter, either. Growing up in South-East London, I couldn’t see the majority of my peer community reflected in these things at all. This is where the seeds of my feminist grief were sown…”

“…You see, the white boys at my schools saw themselves represented everywhere, so the world was theirs for the taking. The girls’ story was different, though. There were those of us who were marginalised and ostracised for not conforming to the feminine ideal portrayed in media, or for not doing what the boys wanted. At the same time, those that adhered closer to this feminine ideal, or those who did what the boys wanted, were ‘slut-shamed.’ Those positions within the school situation were determined by the male perspective. Neither of those positions was an enviable or enjoyable state of social affairs — but, most importantly, these were our formative years. These were the years when we were embarking on our earliest paths through life. What effect did this patriarchal toxicity have on us, and on the choices we made? What was — and is — its impact on the mental health of pubescent girls and boys?”

Read more, at https://medium.com/@sjmyles79

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