Femme Fatale

In conjunction with my performances in The Vagina Monologues, I found myself engaged in several discussions– with both members of the community and my students– about feminism. As they should, the monologues invited others to say or query things which they may have felt taboo before.

Shameless Plug:

We are staging the show again on March 23rd, 7pm, at Magic City.

Am I a Feminist? Yes.

I’ve always considered myself a feminist. Not of the man-hating shade, but in the Emma-Watson-esque light which is what I think we should all consider when we identify with the term.  We should all be feminists, one of my favourite TED talks, speaks of the need for men to fight for gender equality as well. We must not fear the idea of feminism.

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What do I think it means?

Does being a feminist mean that you should stop expecting men to hold doors open or pick up the tab for women? No, it means that you can hold the door open for a man or the waitress can place the cheque in front of you without emasculating him. I think this may be where the identification becomes lost. Somewhere in the idea that women will, by wanting equality, be expected to stop wanting other things. Should we only hold the door open for women? Newsflash: it’s actually pretty nice when you hold the door open for someone, regardless of gender. I mean this in a metaphorical sense which goes beyond the idea of literal portals and instead references all the intangible intricacies that gender equality discussions swirl through. I’m not opening that door here.

I digress. The buzz of discussion and the platform which it generated inspired me to create The Feminist Collection x Alloyds (you may be familiar with my other collections of Anguilla-centered and lifestyle-centred pieces). I felt this was something missing on the market here in Anguilla.

Feminism in Anguilla

In Anguilla, we don’t talk a lot about feminism. To my knowledge, we do not have a gender pay gap here (someone can correct me in the comments if I am mistaken). People are paid based on their qualifications or experience and not based on their sexual organs. We have three women in government right now. We have female CEOs and managers. We just had “Women’s Week” where we saw eighteen strong women highlighted, their achievements not being measured to those of men, but to those of other women.

These are not the reasons I think we avoid discussing feminism in Anguilla. What I believe is that ours is a matriarchal society. At the head of almost every single Anguillian home is a grandmother. We see women as strong and limitless creatures. We see women in our history working alongside men. Anguillian women led the revolution and were the cornerstones of our first industry (salt picking) and make up the largest employment demographic of our current industry (tourism). Anguillian women are sometimes both mother and father. Young girls don’t see their biggest hurdle to success as womanhood— they see it as access to tertiary level education. We don’t discuss feminism in Anguilla because we don’t think we have to.

We should. It should be something we instil in our girls, but most importantly in our young men. We should raise our boys to feel comfortable showing vulnerability. We should stop using the term “baby-sitting” when we refer to fathers caring for their own children. We should teach our girls that a strong man is not a gangster. We should change the West Indian epitomisation of what it is to be a ‘man’ by teaching our next generation to be feminists.

If you would like to purchase any of the merchandise seen in this post, email me at vanessacthompson@gmail.com

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