I have mixed feelings on the topic of feminism. I believe in equality of opportunity and in a society which is inclusive and non-discriminatory. I realise that our world is far from achieving these goals and am supportive of those who try to effect change in these areas. I grew up in a home where women were respected and valued and might have seen myself as a feminist for a time. My life choices have meant that my views on this have been challenged somewhat and this has forced me to consider how far feminism is something I practice on a personal level, and redefine my own terms.
My contradictions have come from the fact that I am submissive to my husband. Submission causes an issue for a lot of feminists and it has meant that I see where my views do not align with many. For me, feminism is about equality of opportunity. It is about being able to have the right to choose. It is not about someone else making decisions and choices for me based on my gender or on my biological sex, but allowing me to choose those things if I wish. Submission is my choice – I choose it and I stand by that decision.
I feel strongly enough to have that conversation within some forums but not within others and this leads so some internal conflict. I find my position to be complex in that my work role puts me in a position where I can fight to try to get equality and inclusion for others, whereas my right to exercise my own right to choose the lifestyle I want and be open about it, would render me ineffective. It causes a conundrum for me and so I choose the duplicity. It means that I see myself as not really fitting the term feminist any longer, although I support the right to have the choice.
As far as I can see, feminism has become a term which is interpreted in different ways by different people. It is easy to look on the surface and say that things have moved to a level where there are choices about what people want to do. But society is still weighted heavily against some people and you don’t have to go very far to find a teenage girl who has to compromise her education to care for younger siblings, or has experienced some form of sexual assault because things are still inherently different for some than for others.
For the young people at work, I make their battles my own. Whether they are to do with sexuality or race or gender or mental health or social factors it really makes no difference to the fact that life, for them, is not equal. I try to do what I can to support them but at the end of the day, often the difficulties they are having are just the beginning of a long and challenging journey to carve their way through a life which will not treat them fairly and will not allow them the same decisions and choices as others around them have. That is not an easy thing but it means that I get to try to do the little I can, and that is a privilege in itself.
Because of the way that submission is viewed, my decision to live the lifestyle I do allows for people to being their own prejudices in to play; essentially they make assumptions that my lifestyle affects the way that I think and ultimately the support that I provide. In reality I would no more push my own choices about my sexual identity onto others than I would my political views or my thoughts on religion. What I believe works for me, it is a personal choice and I do not assume that is right for others. Each person will find their own path and my role is to try to support them to access to the things that will help them.
Being openly submissive would not just alienate me from those who are feminist who would see me as letting the side down, but also those who think that my choice to do something alternative would mean that I would influence others around me in a negative way. They would see me as weak at best and seedy and corrupt at worst. Submissive women seem to threaten what other women have fought for, as if by choosing to submit to a man you somehow negate everything else.
Of course the issue is not really with submissive women, it is with submission itself and I think that any person who wants to submit to another is often misunderstood. Submissive males probably have an even tougher time trying to get people to understand why they want to make the choice they do. At the end of the day, my submission is what allows me to be strong and to fight for improvements in the circumstances for others. It challenges me but the escape I find through the submission I offer HL actually aids it, and that is why if I had to I would stand by my right to live as I choose and not be judged for that.
I have identified with feminism in the past and worked through in my own mind whether or not that could co-exist with submission and concluded that it could. I don’t think I see myself in that way anymore. I suppose I have resolved the angst I had and settled into living the life I choose to at the same time. I have stopped being anything publicly and just got on with doing as I do. My thoughts on equality of opportunity for all women as a basic right have not changed but they have become part of a bigger awareness and drive for equality of opportunity for so many people who are placed at a disadvantage for all number of reasons.