‘Feminist- a man or woman who says, ‘Yes, there’s a problem with gender as it is today and we must fix it, we must do better’.’

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Came across this book recently. Actually it was a suggestion from my husband that I should read it. I was intrigued! Wanted to ask am I not enough feminist yet? Actually I wasn’t as much as I thought I was.

It looks like I accepted more than I maybe should have in the past. It's very short, but a very eye-opener book about today’s society, old fashion thinking I would say and some damage that is still seen from the past and even into the future. There is a lot more we all need to do to make sure that the world is a fairer place to live for all of us. It doesn't matter you are a man or a woman.

I grew up in a small town in a small country that once was part of Russia. You know I blame them sometimes for all the past. Being a girl back then meant to be a quiet, smile, and be happy. Girls suppose to be beautiful and boys suppose to be strong. That's it. Somehow bullying at school didn’t make me feel beautiful. I had no makeup till I was 16 and let's just say that I did not look like Britney to have all the attention all the time. Girls meant to cook and clean the house, boys do the part where they are strong, they will grow up and they will earn money and ‘take care of family’. I even studied something like ‘Public administration’, there were literally up to 10 boys throughout all groups of students that year. And choosing ballet and piano in art school apparently was my choice as well as it was girly enough even though it was chosen for me. (seriously think about future and your children's legs! I would benefit from a pair of new knees and feet!)

It meant to be very natural to live that way because that is how my mum grew up and her mum grew up and I was apparently lucky because it used to be worse to work on a farm than it was in my days. I was very much fixed minded and have not much opportunity to change the way things worked. But that was about to change when I got an opportunity to go to London back in 2010 and that probably was the best thing that ever happened to me. I escaped to the completely opposite world, where people were free, I felt that I didn’t have to think about what I wear, do I wear makeup, how I speak because I could smell freedom. I was lucky to have this change in my life early enough to help me understand that the way we were made to live wasn’t exactly fair. I was happy to adopt an open-minded approach to things that took me quite a while.

Today I am happily married to the most wonderful man in the world. Have a 3-year-old son and hope that he can grow up to be a better person than I ever was. I always felt guilty to put him in a nursery since he was 10 months old, to work long hours, to learn, and try to change my carrier path at the same time. It felt that old Rita would not approve. Or rather her mum would not be happy. According to her I should have stayed at home and cook dinner for my husband so when he comes home he is happy and looked after. I gave up explaining to her that he is a grown-up man and can ‘look after’ himself very well.

I still do feel sometimes bad that I don’t spend maybe as much time with my son as I should, but I am extremely happy that he is going to nursery, playing with his friends, making those important communications, and learning important skills. I never went to the nursery. Going to school was the most terrifying moment in my life. Having a hard time there didn’t help either. And having such a little confidence all my life made me feel very very little and that I did not deserve anything.

Well, that changed thanks to my husband. I am where I am not because I am a strong woman, but because I have full support from him. Because he looks after our son not because he has to, but because he wants to. He cooks absolutely delicious food and he lets me get on with my life as much as I need to. He made me stronger and I will always be thankful for that.

My uncle back in Lithuania said that soon I will come back and beg for work in his office where I will be able to make coffee for his clients. (cause that is only one thing probably I can do right). That sentence struck me back then in 2013 and gave me some strength to go forward. Today I am working in IT in a start-up as a delivery manager. (many welcome this with a surprise and a statement — ‘I didn’t know you know how to fix computers!’) Well, that is not exactly what I do. I didn’t choose this because there are not many women in this industry. I simply liked it and there was a lot of support to get where I am now. The biggest thank you goes to my ex-colleague/manager Sam Lewis who made me believe that if he can do something it means I can too. And many more lessons came through that year that we worked together that I carry on with me. I appreciate more than ever his knowledge sharing sessions that he used to run for me and Diogo. He would show how to upload release notes to the web page, how to use Visual Studio and other stuff and there would be always a push from him something like ’Common Rita, did you not finish yet?!’ and I wanted sometimes to say, hey I am a woman give over and give me some more time, but I am glad I didn’t and I am glad I was treated the same way as anybody else.

I think its time we teach our daughters that they are not here just to be pretty and our sons that they are not here just to be strong. We are all equal. It depends on how much effort one puts towards their dreams. Its time to consider our social media and messages that are sent through it — you have to be like everybody else, you have to do everything your friends are doing, you have to look pretty, go places — fake news — you have your own life, don’t forget about it and it's you in charge of it so make the most of it! I can’t wait for a day where everybody will be treated equally in being paid, at home, in a relationship, at work, at school anywhere in any situation. There is too much abuse and it has to stop. But I do believe that we are the ones to help and change that world. Many more people from my generation were brought up to believe that boys are the strength of the family and girls have to learn to please their husbands by doing all the housework. There is no harm in learning how to cook or having a mop around the house once in a while even if you are a man. It is time to change the past. Be part of a brighter future!

Agile Delivery Manager, Certified Kanban professional. Passionate about people and ways to improve system.

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