Forgive me, readers, for I am about to commit a cardinal blogging sin with a ‘rant’ post.
I don’t do these often because I know you read my blog for some non-cerebral, light relief, but I am fed up of being verbally constipated on this particular subject, out of fear of alienation.
I need to get this mother*cker out.
You see, this week, at the age of forty-seven, I finally realized that I am a feminist. I have finally embraced the F word in middle age.
Was that ‘About f*cking time’ I heard you say?
Of course Feminism is not exactly a new idea – I just never truly understood the underpinning implications of it before – for which I must humbly apologize and grovel to Suffragettes and Bra-burners alike.
I have obviously always been a feminist, I just didn’t know it until now.
Unfortunately, I am not a literary wordsmith on the topic like Helen Razer or Anne Summers, but I do have opinions that matter, and I can and do identify with their beliefs. So indulge me, dear readers, and allow me to vent (in my own simplistic way) on my opinion of feminism in Australia today.
Firstly, how do I know that I’ve always been a feminist?
Simple. Because I’ve always believed in women having the same rights as men. In fact, the reason it took me so bloody long to realize that I was a closet Feminist, is because I naively assumed that women already had equal rights to men.
The truth of it is, I may have actually been a teensy bit afraid of swearing my allegiance to feminists before, because I had this crazily warped stereotype in my head of what a feminist was – my most dangerous assumption being that they hated men. And I rather like men.
There are, in fact, many male feminists and many feminists that like men.
‘Feminism is not anti men. It’s anti-arseholes, misogynists, pricks, creeps, thugs and bigots.’ Catherine Deveny
But in any important movement, extremism can be a problem. There will always be radical, impassioned members at its core – we witnessed extreme Islam in Woolwich only last week. Often, the most militant members of a group are the ones that actually get anything done, and so unless they resort to violence to get their point across, I embrace and admire their fervency. However, occasionally that passion can become warped and turn to fanaticism, which comes at a price. Not only cost to life, but it can deter other, less confrontational followers from campaigning and supporting the group on its behalf. To remain powerful, a group needs members.
There have certainly been many times in my life where I have been a victim of sexism, have heard demeaning references to women, have witnessed the objectification of women in the media and seen their exploitation in pornography. Who can be unaware of the levels of violence against women that still happen in Australia?
Six factors finally changed my perspective on feminism:
- Julia Guillard’s ‘misogyny speech’ and witnessing the way in which she has been treated since taking on the role as the first female prime-minister
- The increasing misrepresentation and objectification of women in the media
- The effect that objectifying women has on the developing minds and attitudes on boys towards women
- My increasing involvement in writing for women
- Getting older and wiser and intolerant to bigotry and finding my ‘voice’
- My daughter; who I am proud to say, is a staunch feminist at the age of eighteen
Last week I attended the ‘Women and Power’ debate at the Sydney Writers Festival, via the Griffith Review, and headed up by Anne Summers, Mary Delahunty, Chris Wallace, Yassmin Abdel-Magied and Julianne Schulz.
I don’t know what I was expecting from the debate, but I came away resolved in my militancy. The impassioned debate ended in a call to arms for women to be more proactive in their challenge against inequality, because although there have been obvious successes in the battle for equal rights, there is still a lot of work to be done.
A lot of young women believe that equality in Australia is ‘done and dusted.’
Successes have obviously been celebrated in the previous waves of feminism in Australia, thanks to women such as Germaine Greer and Anne Summers, but these experts believe that a new wave of male supremacy is forming, due in part to the influence of the media (and particularly social media) and the continued lack of equality in the workplace.
Raising a teenage daughter, I have believed for a while now, that there is a distinct regression in the attitudes of some younger men towards women, and that misogynistic behavior is following suit. (Is Social Media Killing Teenage Relationships?)
We need to educate our sons to be respectful of women.
The apathy towards feminism by our younger generations of women (although it has recently regained some traction with the ‘Destroying The Joint’ debate led by Jane Caro) may be because they believe that they already have equal rights. Or maybe it is simply too hard? And of course the infrastructure to support women in the work place is still negligible.
So what can women do?
Women need to resume the fight and keep pushing back. They need to fight for quotas in the workplace to override the continuing sexism and hold of the old boy networks. There are still very few women in the top corporate tiers, and more and more women are choosing to opt out of corporate life altogether (due to the difficulty of climbing the corporate ladder) to take other options. Where will our voice be then?
Don’t be afraid to use the F word like I was.
Rally for Women’s health- National Mall by Amber Wilkie at http://www.flickr.com