Beverley Merriman

I’m not a feminist

Inspired by those overbearing man-eaters who bitch about inequality and hide behind women’s lib for their every whim, I tweeted, “The world would be a better place without those hard-core feminist types“. Boy, did that tweet get me into trouble.

If tweets could kill, I would have needed life support.

“I’m no feminist,” I shot back (keenly aware that I owned a brand called FeistyFemale!). Truth be told, I never gave it a thought till that very moment — whether I was a feminist or not — I’ve never had to.

After much contemplation, I’m sticking to my guns. I’m not a feminist.

This leads me to my next tweet, one that was inspired by an article written by Justine Musk “I was the Starter Wife”: Inside America’s Messiest Divorce. The tweet read, If any man ever told me “I’m the alpha in this relationship” … God help him.

You see, those men exist. Those who do think they are god-like and that their dreams, talent and ambition take priority over any woman’s. Each time my (silent) response is: Why should my talent and dreams take a backseat to yours? How is that fair? What makes you superior? How do you justify your fucking god-like awesomeness? Instead of picking a fight with these types I let them be and I carry on fulfilling my dreams. It’s not like any argumentation can change this narrow-minded mentality in a single argument.

It’s ridiculous in today’s age to assume that any person reserves the right to have their dreams, talent, skill and career prioritised because of their sex. I don’t care if you are a man or a woman — it’s a bad attitude to have. It shows that you are selfish with no sense of what’s fair and that you have no compassion to uplift those around you. In the business world it also shows lack of common sense.

My parents raised my sister and me in an age and society where roles and responsibilities were far more clear-cut than today. Despite this, I had the privilege of being raised in a family where my parents were parenting partners, equals and peers. As both my parents spent equal amounts of time at home, they took equal responsibility for income and home life, neither had traditional mom and dad responsibilities. Both were equally likely to cook, clean, do the groceries, help with homework or cart us around to our extracurricular activities. They functioned as a unit, truly calibrating their lives to be shared and equal. They shared successes and failures.

This ensured that I was raised to be assertive, independent and outspoken about my dreams and needs. Neither my sister nor I have ever viewed being independent as being feminist. We seem to take it for granted that our rights and needs are on par with that of our counterparts. Despite working in a predominantly male industry, my attitude can be defined as: my chances are as good as yours!

My partner (both romantic and in business) and I function much like my parents did — as a team. It’s a two-way, give-and-take process with shared sacrifices and shared domestic and business responsibility. We are sensitive and supportive towards each other’s visions, wild ideas, aspirations and passions. It’s not really rocket science to realise that both parties need to be happy and fulfilled to be happy together. This too is true for business relationships. You need to be happy to flourish and happy enough to let those around you flourish whether they are male or female.

This kind of confidence and happiness is not obtained by joining a feminist lobbying group and bitching about your rights or on the other side of the spectrum believing your rights take precedence because of your sex. Enough of that!

Feminists seem to face the moral conundrum of how they give back to society: do they give back to society by using their talent and skill through a career or by raising the next generation of children?

You simply can’t blame men for this conundrum. It’s a societal problem. Our society is a well-oiled machine, an intricate system of smooth running processes that have rapidly evolved into what we know today. We haven’t designed our society to cater for either sex if you think about it. I’m sure that there are many hard-working dads that would give anything to spend more time at home with their wife and children. The solution is a challenging one. We need to recreate (as joint forces, both men and women) a society in which to function holistically — where women get to work while raising a family, but also where men have time to spend with their families.

Then there are those feminists that focus on weakness. I agree there are cases and societies where women are, for various reasons, ill-treated. This often comes down to lack of education or poverty. It’s not about feminism then — it’s about culture, education, poverty and/or not knowing any better due these factors. However, for the most vocal extremists in our society this does not hold true. If you can think you can work, if you can work you can earn, if you earn you are empowered to make choices. Choices, however difficult and complex, are still choices.

  • You choose to have a family and a job.
  • You choose work over family, or family over work.
  • You choose how you are treated in the workplace.
  • You choose to acknowledge that extremists and assholes exist.
  • You choose whether to stay in an abusive relationship or not.
  • You choose whether and how you will negotiate a relationship (work or business) that works for you.
  • You choose not to be set back by the fact that you are a female or you choose not to practise superiority because you are a male.
  • Lobbying, preaching feminists irk me. It’s pointless spending days lobbying for a cause that merely highlights inequality. This does not empower a soul. If you want to support something and effect change — go and educate someone in need, teach values while teaching them skills. Employ someone that needs it. Act equal, lead by example, pay it forward but stop bitching about bullshit. Empower through other means rather than highlighting injustice. And for goodness sake, acknowledge the fact that some women don’t mind being less empowered or objectified. That too is a choice.

    The alpha males should also realise that they are not doing themselves or society a favour with their narrow-mindedness. The archaic view that women are the lesser, weaker sex will do future generations a disservice. It also will not bring you any more power, control or success.

    I realise that my upbringing was not the norm — I was privileged having parents that were present and involved in my development and in so doing making me who I am today. I settled for a partner that’s prepared to work 50/50 and have children on a 50/50 partnership basis and who values my dreams and achievements as much as I value his. This is not the norm, but it is a choice, and one that is worth making. Together we can help society far more than if only one of us assumes power. Should we ever raise children, they too will have the privilege to absorb their parents equally.

    Ask yourself if you are making the right choices. Is your outlook really fair? Also, think about team work, even if society makes it hard or damn near impossible — because having fathers and mothers that aren’t stuck on sexist issues and have a joint influence on children, would raise a stronger, more cohesive, more talented, balanced and much more morally aware society. You know it would.