What feminism meant to my mother
Sorry for the Not Pony post, but I wanted to share this story as part of my opinion on what feminism should be.
So I was out having coffee with my mother a few weeks ago. We don’t do this often, and I live 80 miles away from her, so we take the opportunity to talk about the past and stuff.
My mum started out her working career with banks, specifically, Lloyds Bank. She started with a load of other young things fresh out of school and looking for work.
And she picked up the job very quickly, she was good at it, and the economy was good.
But there was this issue, one of her colleagues, a man, was the same age and experience as her, but wasn’t as sharp, and did not pick up the job so quickly.
She was constantly having to assist him and explain things to him… which wasn’t the end of the world, but a clear indicator that she was a better member of staff.
But then there was this thing she noticed… Because this is the late seventies and there aren’t really any computers or privacy, people who work in the bank can see everyone’s finances.
And this male colleague who’s crap at his job, and started at the same time, is getting paid more than my mum is. Because he’s a guy.
So this goes on for a while, and my mum has now sensed that she’s going to be stuck on the back foot here… so when an offer comes up, she jumps ship and takes a job at a credit card company called Diners Club.
The pay is better and so is the work. On come the eighties, and into the world comes my big sister.
Maternity leave is a thing in the eighties, but it’s basically at the company’s discretion. My mum takes maternity leave, and returns. But there’s a distinct problem.
There’s zero progress in her career here, because the brass doesn’t want to promote a woman who’s likely to have another kid.
Stagnation sets in, and then hey ho, when the 80s financial crisis caught up with Diners Club and they set out a wave of redundancies to compensate, my mum – despite her prowess – was first on the chopping block.
Because she was a mother raising a family.
It wasn’t about some contrived patriarchy, it was purely prejudice and an assumption that women were inferior in a business industry.
When I told my mum about modern feminism, she said words to the effect of; “What are you talking about? I just wanted to be paid the same as everyone else with the same job as me, and the right to progress my career at the same time as my family.”