I was in a conversation in the month leading up to Emma Watson’s speech at the United Nations, you know the one, right? THAT ONE. I said that of course I was a feminist. No, you’re not, the other person said, no way. If I could show you my face at that moment my confusion and errr, what the heck’ness would have been evident. I’m a feminist, I assure you, I think you’ve got the meaning all wrong.

And then Emma did her thing. People on the interwebs took their sides of the fence as they normally do. Some said that by incorporating the He in the He for She campaign that it was once again women deferring to men to save them. Others, like me, disagree. Gender roles and the stereotypes we impose on girls and boys effect us all. Threats were made against her in a fashion that only served to better prove her point. The internet did what the internet does and the world went on turning.

But how did it happen? An entire generation of women who were told that being a feminist is a bad thing. Taylor Swift came out recently as a feminist after previously denying the label. A label she too had seen as being filled with hate and distrust, anger and resentment. I was thinking more about the moment I became a feminist, long before I had the language for it, and that time came down to my father. He taught me how to be a feminist by responding to my aspiration, so very serious at the time, of being Prime Minister with a simple, you can do anything with your life Melissa. Anything at all.


My Dad was my very first #HeForShe and one of a long line of strong men in my life who believed in their hearts that women should be offered the same opportunities as men. They knew the physical differences in men and women didn’t mean there was a weaker, lesser sex. Men who in many ways did not conform to male gender roles themselves and therefore longed for the opportunity to break free from them too. They are my father, my uncles, my brother, my cousins, my husband. Feminists, though I wonder now if they would call themselves such.

When you encourage a girl and later a woman to be the fullest expression of herself in her life, her relationships, career and voice, then you are a feminist. If you require equal rights for men and women, you are a feminist. Men and women are different, it’s not about being the same, but it’s not about hate or distrust, more or less something than the other, it is about equality. And that is why I am now, and will always be, a feminist.

My children’s children deserve the right to be who they are without you telling them what is right for them. Without the roles or ideals we burden the with before their birth. That’s why working together is the answer. Becuase boys not doing well in school isn’t good enough. Girls being sexualised from their pre-teens is disgusting. And I want my children, born male or female, to be able to choose their path, free from what anyone says they should do, should be or should have.

Ask Aziz Ansari, his recent quote on David Letterman {reported here} says it all, “You’re a feminist if you go to a Jay-Z and Beyonce concert, and you’re not like, ‘Mmm, I feel like Beyonce should get 23 percent less money than Jay-Z.'” The rest is about delivering on that promise of equality.

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