Embracing the F Word in Middle Age

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?

Embracing the F Word In Middle AgeWhat can I say? I’m a late-developer. The great thing about life though, is it’s never too late to embrace new ideas, is it?

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

16 thoughts on “Embracing the F Word in Middle Age

  1. That Catherine Deveny quote is great! I am so appreciative of all those feminists who have gone before me and brought me closer to equal opportunity in the workplace an in society with my male counterparts. But if we lose sight of where we`ve come from and of how oppressed our female predecessors were, we are in danger of slipping back.Great post! Thank you!


    1. It was simplistic but to the point I hope. It is a sad fact that my teenage daughter is teaching me about what I should be entitled to as a woman. Actually, maybe that’s not sad – maybe it’s progress.


  2. Hahahah! I can’t stop laughing…I needed this right now and you never let me down! Yes, serious! But not the way you put it across!! 🙂 If anyone is down they just need to chill with you! 🙂 I loved this…hugs Paula xxx


    1. Thanks again Paula. I really have to say that your encouragement always spurs me on. Can you send me the link to your blog cos I always seem to miss your posts on the WP reader x


      1. Okay, no worries. Thank you for your support. 🙂

        The link to my blog is: depressionexists.com

        It’s unfortunate you don’t receive my posts VIA the reader. 😦


    1. There are now SIX factors – thanks for letting me know. Obviously not the best at multi-tasking since the discovery of my new passion must have affected my mental arithmetic skills..


  3. Fantastic post Louisa. I didn’t realize until recently either that I am a feminist. It is unfortunate the term has attracted a negative connotation. I think most women (and many men) support gender equality…or at least think they do. I wrote a piece on my blog a few months ago about discrimination of women in the workplace and unfortunately it still exists – particularly for mothers.

    We are right to be concerned for the next generation. I will be doing all I can to raise my boys with a healthy respect for women and views which encompass equality.


    1. But I think that the women heading the new wave are aware of the negative connotations. As my sister wrote, it is about education, not force – the problem is that the changes need to be made now. I am trying to educate my son, but there are some very negative seeds already implanted from social media and it is a battle.


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