My original plan for Monday was to take a crap-ton of photos of Lavenham, a super cute town in Suffolk, and then post about it after having been. As it turns out, I saw less of Lavenham than I had hoped. Rather than show you other people’s photos, I’m going to wait until I can get there, investigate at a leisurely pace, and then tell you all about it. But Monday’s post ended up just being kind of lame. I know. I’m sorry.
To make up for it, here is a bonus Tuesday night post, and its another rumination on the challenges of living in a foreign country. As foreign countries go, England is an easy one to live in, at least for an American. But England is still a foreign place. One of the ways that this has been brought home to me is via my coworker Hollie. Hollie is roughly my age, tiny and blond, with a quick laugh (which I love, because she laughs at all my jokes). She’s much cooler than I am and I have a big girl-crush on her; we share a common love of Adobe products, a fondness for baked goods, and similar attitudes toward marriage, women’s rights and feminism. I knew I really liked her (and my other coworkers, for that matter) when I realized that in my all-female workplace, no one has taken their partner’s name. That is the sort of place I’m psyched to work at.
Even though Hollie and I have a lot in common vis-a-vis feminism, I’ve been amazed by how much cultural currency we don’t share. She’s never listened to Ani DiFranco, for example – every feminist-y American I know would probably say she’s an Ani DiFranco fan (or at least went through an Ani phase), but Righteous Babe Records hasn’t made inroads in the UK market. Ditto Indigo Girls (and, by extension, Lilith Fair, which was my first real concert-going experience).
Music is admittedly a superficial indicator of someone’s deeply held convictions, but it is a very convenient form of shorthand, and one that I miss now that its gone. And, to be fair, we don’t necessarily share more substantive experiences of feminism, either: I’ve never read Germaine Greer and she doesn’t have any knowledge of Gloria Steinem (although maybe we’ve both read Simone de Beauvoir. I’ll have to ask her). While we ultimately came to the same conclusions, we did so despite a totally different kaleidoscope of influences. Its made me wonder what the cultural hallmarks of feminism are, both in the US and the UK. The biggest shared tenet I’ve found is keeping your last name, but I know many women who identify as feminists who took their partner’s name, or plan to; I also know women who kept their name who probably wouldn’t consider themselves feminist. What do you think constitutes a culture of feminism? And if you’re not from the US or the UK, what would you say is the thing where you’re from?