A chat with my mom...

Sally and Jane 

As it was International Women's Day on Thursday and Mother's Day yesterday, I thought it would be apt to do a little interview/Q&A with my mom, Sally. When I think of International Women's Day, the first thing that springs to mind is my mother. She is my best friend. We tell each other everything, want to know each other's opinions on everything and support each other on everything we do.

Although these days we live in different cities, we speak daily, and on Tuesday, our phone call consisted of talking about the hot topic of gender, sexism and inspirational women...

J: As a child, I was never pushed into wearing/doing stereotypical "girly" things. I was allowed to have my own personality and style and had short hair, wore boy's clothes and hated dresses.
Was this freedom something that dad and you gave consciously or planned on giving before you had children?

S: Not exactly... I just always wanted you to be comfortable. When you were a baby I dressed you for comfort - soft dungarees and t-shirts or pull on joggers when you were crawling. And I liked to knit clothes for you - practical little jumpers. We did have dresses for you but you didn't often want to wear them,  and so we didn't force you to. For six months or more, when you were two, you wore your Teletubby outfit! I never fought you on it because I could tell you had a strong sense of what you were comfortable in, and I didn't think it was my place to impose. Sometimes, you did want to wear dresses, but we would never make you. You always had your own style, where you were about eight you decided to wanted converse, so we got you some converse! You were a tomboy, but you didn't want to be a boy - you just had your own style.
Before I had children, I imagined that my future little girl would be like me, but before you were even one, I realised you weren't just an extension of me. I instinctively just went along with things and let you make your own decisions.

The infamous Po suit 

J: I look up to you a great deal as being a women who is creative and has lived creatively all her life in one way or another, whether teaching art to children or making coats and dresses from scratch. When you were younger, were there any women who you looked up to in a similar way?

S: Norma's (Sally's mother's cousin and Jane's godmother) always had creative things out for you to look at and have a go with - Norma never minded you having a go at something, and she and her family only lived around the corner when I was growing up.
Both of my grandmothers encouraged me to get into crafts too. Nan and grandad knew I was always making things and when I was ten, they bought me an Edwardian Singer hand sewing machine. And my grandma gave me her old sewing machine when I was about 21.
My nan was extremely capable when it came to knitting and dressmaking (she was also obsessively tidy with her creative projects!). If I told her I wanted a ballet dress to play in, she would whip one up very quickly. She taught me to knit when I was six... I remember that the wool was yellow. But I noticed that she's been putting it right without me realising when she left the room for a minute, I was really angry and demanded that she showed me properly! I think she thought I was too young, but I wasn't.

J: Do you think attitudes to women/expectations for women have changed much since when you were my age?

S: I think that people are saying the right things more than often they used to... whereas people used to be openly sexist. But I don't think things have changed drastically because people who grew up in a sexist culture/society are still around today... it wasn't that long ago.
A lot of young people today know how to say the right thing, but people have to do the right thing. But, gender equality is definitely much more in public consciousness - which is great.

Thanks mom! 

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