My husband is my pillar, my rock, my life partner. He has been nothing less than supportive of me and my career since we met. During that time I’ve run my own successful advertising agency and worked for Google.
I had three months off work with the birth of my first child and 6 weeks with the second. We married after the second – I have always joked I wanted to make sure he’d make a good father before I committed to him. The truth is, he’s the better half of our partnership.
The F* word.
That’s right. Feminism.
Before I met him I started working with a charity that ran several women’s refuges and rehabilitation program mes for survivors of domestic abuse. When this took the form of gathering hundreds of presents each Christmas for the residents of the refuges.
It apparently didn’t occur to him that this was more than a charitable gesture from a white, middle class woman. When I talked about women’s rights and told him stories about survivors I’d met, he listened, nodded and I took this to be a shared feeling of the utter outrage I felt about the gender equality we live with day to day.
Then the charity I had been working with for 9 years went into administration. The refuges luckily were absorbed into a bigger network, but the high quality 1:1 counseling, the lobbying, the powerhouse that believed survivors deserved more than 30 days of support as they sought to rebuild their lives, that all disappeared.
I was very involved as the charity wound down and became a lot more vocal about my beliefs. This came around shortly before Weinstein and the #metoo movement. This is the point when I realized my husband is embarrassed by my perspective.
But it’s not just him, it’s also certain groups of family, friends, parents from school; both male and female. If I’m socializing and anything remotely related to #metoo or the F*word comes up it all gets a bit awkward. If anyone attempts to open up the conversation, or offer a vaguely provocative opinion they’re immediately put down with a combination of banter and deprecating remarks. And yes, when I say anyone, I mean me.
This realization came as I’d come to realize that charities, small charities especially, really struggle with funding; government and institutional grants require mountains of paperwork just to be considered, individual donors are being pulled in all sorts of directions for all sorts of causes. The only way to create real financial stability is for them to create a sustainable income stream.
So I set my mind to thinking. What product could we create that would provide this sustainable income stream for charities whilst also effecting change. My experience with social exchanges, or rather lack of, made me realize that to have any hope of progress around gender equality continuing we needed to change the conversation.
For the last 18 months I’ve been working on a set of conversation cards that are designed for families with kids age 5-12.
They have all sorts of questions on them ranging from Have you ever wondered what animals talk about? Or which of your teachers might survive a zombie apocalypse? To ‘Is it ok to call a girl manly?’ and ‘Who should have the last say in a family?’.
It’s working. My two girls love it and play it with their dad all the time. He barely seems to notice it covers conversations he’s uncomfortable having with me if I instigate them. Friends who get awkward when we’re discussing this around the dinner table are happily buying sets of cards for their kids.
You can read more about practical ways you can teach gender equality to kids here –
The beautiful thing is the children themselves love the simple interaction they have between themselves and adults. It’s a small thing but I hope it can make a difference.
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