I’ve always been a feminist. My father spat the word at me once when I was 4 years old, after I’d stood up for myself or commented on some remark he’d made. I knew the tone he’d used meant something bad, so when I was back with my mum (oh yes, a child of divorce) I told her and her good friend Lynnie that dad had called me something bad starting with f, and I think it was that thing from toothpaste. After establishing he hadn’t, in fact, called me fluoride, Mum and Lynnie asked me to tell them what I’d been doing before he’d said the word. I remember them grinning at each other and asking me if he’d called me a feminist. I said yes, and they laughed and said that was an awesome thing to be called as it meant I was a strong and independent woman. It was one of the first times I felt like one of the gals, a member of a new and fascinating club that had a special name. It was also my first experience of the double edge of being known as a feminist – some folks see it as an insult, something to be thrown in your face and then dismissed.
My life hasn’t been full of strength and solid bra burning choices. Sure, I did attend rallies and protest meetings with my mother a few years after that, chanting ‘We have the right…to reclaim the night!’ as I marched alongside men, women and children down the main streets of my nearest city (though born and raised for a while in Melbourne, I soon became a rural child). Mum remarried, and lucked out by finding a legit psychopath to join and then split up our family. He claimed to be a feminist, but gradually our sense of self and strength eroded under his delicate manipulations. Not entirely though, and I never gave in completely. I’m proud to say that one of the excuses he used to eventually leave my mother was that she was a feminist (something he originally admired, while it served his purposes). I’ve never been a man hater, but I was raised by strong women in my early years, and my mum always taught me that I had an inalienable right, as a person, not as a man or a woman, to achieve whatever I put my mind to. If I wanted a Barbie or a My Little Pony to play with, I had it. If I wanted a remote control car, or a carpentry set, I had those as well.
Just like everyone, my life has been peppered with highs and lows, and many challenges. I’ve come through the darkest places I’ve known to exist (kicking my step dad out of my life was a big part of that), and worked hard on myself. And then, when I least expected it, as cliche as that sounds, I met a man. A man who intrigued and fascinated me. A man I found attractive, not just physically (though he is the perfect blend of all the classic leading men I’ve loved in film) but intellectually. He was unavailable when I first met him, so it was strictly a friendship that developed. I doubt I would have had the courage to speak to him if I’d known he was single. But speak to him I did, and little by little the walls I’d built up around myself came down and I found a new best friend. His life changed, and we were able to be together. It’s been 8 months now (conveniently, our anniversary is New Year’s Day – mainly because I took my heart in my hands, screwed up every skerrick of courage I possessed and turned up on his doorstep to resolve the back and forth crap we’d been doing for ages), and he asked me about a month ago to move in with him. Totally took me by surprise, as our beginning was so rocky it still astonishes me that we’re actually together, that I can be this lucky.
I moved in last weekend, and have decided to keep this blog to record my first experience of ‘living with a man’. My man. It’s strange, thinking I’m now the lady of the house. Before this, I’d lived at home, left to go to uni, and then had my mum move in with me in the last year of uni after she split with my step dad. I set some ground rules, as I didn’t want to go back to being the child, but still – she was the woman of the house. Now it’s all me. I’ve found out some things about myself these past few months that have surprised me, and I’m sure I’m going to find out more as I go along. I’m sure there are millions of women who have gone through the same things, so this is me, reaching out to the world wide web worth of women, to share my experiences with you and hear about yours in return.