Sarah Pepperle

The other day someone told me that ‘man’ is a gender-neutral term to describe all of us, as he put his hand on the small of my back. I said: 'ahahaha'. But I do feel sorry for these old f-wits hanging onto their dusty ideas of gender. Lonely dinosaurs rattling around fearing their extinction. I’m raising thoughtful, progressive kids to dynamite their bones out of the water. It’s nurture setting nature straight.

I was raised by a wonderful mother who was mostly made of iron and a father who thought that was pretty fine. He was (still is) a very intelligent, easy-going man who was happy for his dynamic, straight-shooting wife and two very angular daughters to run his world. It was a good set-up to raise a young person with a strong sense of self and no regard that biology could be a dis/advantage. The other day my mum told me she used to despise males when she was growing up because they were given all the good stuff – shotguns, opportunities, respect. As a determined young woman with a strong sense of justice that must have really rankled. She’d been shown her place and didn’t intend to stay there. For the first three years of her life, she and her twin sister were raised by their mum while their dad was away in the war. I imagine that’s where the trouble started. I double-majored in feminist studies and art theory at university. Art theory was way more interesting. Feminism is my everyday.

These days I’ve learned that I can’t bend the entire world to my will, just pockets of it.

When I was younger I thought I could do whatever the f**k I wanted. These days I’ve learned that I can’t bend the entire world to my will, just pockets of it. I push back sometimes, but I’m not out to pick a fight. Now I’m mum to two incredible little humans – a girl and a boy, a pigeon pair – and everything I do, good or bad, is another building block for their view on life. Raising kids is the most mind-blowing thing. Their dad and I parent together but separately. Our children spend most of their time with me so I’m conscious that most of the time I’m the role model for both of them. We all paint our nails together; we all laugh at fart jokes. They both play sports and love dancing. We read a lot (but not books that stereotype based on gender); we talk a lot. We know that no means no. Gender is just biology. They are both encouraged to aim as high and far as they can.

I’m a working mother (school hours only). I publish beautiful art books at Christchurch Art Gallery. Life is full time; there is very little down time. I like the kids to see that the more you pack into life the more you get out of it. We have no screen time during the week, and no crappy telly or music videos because imo life experiences should shape our children’s ideas of their self and worth, not horribly manufactured ideas of gender and relationships.

I don’t talk to my kids about feminism because we live it.

As a feminist, it appals me that feminism is still a necessary thing. That we should have to think about gender parity, let alone still need to insist on it. I don’t talk to my kids about feminism because we live it. I haven’t figured out how to explain to them that just a few generations back girls didn’t have the same rights or opportunities as boys. My mum thinks my generation doesn’t stand up for anything. That we are too soft because we think everyone should have the right to live whatever way they choose. I think that means we stand up for everyone, and that’s what I try and teach our kids – to be kind, considerate, awake humans who judge others on their hearts and minds, not their biology. (And don’t call anyone an old f-wit).