Tuesday, March 8, 2016

International Women's Day

I watched some of Q&A last night and I gotta say it's left me feeling a little flat.

Today is International Women's Day and there are all these reminders out there about the myriad of kick ass chicks doing kick ass things.

And lots of gratitude for our forebears who paved the way and got us to where we are today.

We should be feeling mighty.

But instead I'm feeling low.  Because last night our Federal Minister for Women Michaelia Cash refused to call herself a Feminist.

Senator Penny Wong, per usual was a total badass and fired back with a formidable Dale Spender quote, which she prefaced eloquently:

"This is very important. I call myself a feminist because it associates me with a set of political beliefs that I believe very passionately in. It is also an act of respect. It is recognising that the reason I can run for Parliament...is because women went before me and fought for those rights."

And I'm like, really?  Are we still having this fucking conversation?

Mia Freedman then said, "In my experience, women who deny the word, they’re not running from the meaning of the word, as you are not, you’re running from the perception of it. And I think it’s a really outdated perception that feminism is about angry women or that it will alienate men somehow or that it will offend men and I think you don’t have to be scared of that word because no one thinks that feminism is that anymore."

But Mia you're wrong.  So many people do still think feminism is that.  You only have to look at news website comments or the response to basically anything Clementine Ford ever says.  People are quick to deny feminism.  They are quick to distance themselves from it.  And even worse than that they are quick to attack it.

There is still a solidly held belief that Feminism = Man Hating.

And it's easy to dismiss the people that hold that view as small minded, insecure little men, afraid of the mighty awe of the empowered woman.  And sometimes that is true.  But sometimes it is not.  Sometimes it is men from whom you would expect better, more.  And sometimes it is from women.

Because somewhere along the way the broad definition of feminism seems to have become, for some people equivalent to the radical feminist theory that to achieve the aims of the feminist movement the complete division of the sexes is required. But even then, to take that simplified version of the philosophy and turn it into man-hating, it's a vast misunderstanding.  And to the complete exclusion of the understanding of the more liberal feminist position that the over arching rule of the male dominated patriarchy is just as damaging for men as it is for women.

Yeah.  I think most of them must have slept through that tutorial while they were studying their feminist theory at Uni.

Look.  I'm not a perfect feminist, not by any stretch of the imagination.  Mostly because there isn't such a thing.  But I am a feminist and proud to call myself one.  Proud to own the fact that I want better for women, for all women.  That means that I want better for women in developing nations whose issues are so very different to my own, but to whom I feel connected by my womanhood.  I want better for women in my own country and other wealthy Western countries whose causes are so often dismissed as being the plaything of privilege.  I want better for the women in my circle, those I know, who are so strong and beautiful and powerful and who daily have that strength and beauty and power denied by men in their lives who do not understand it.

I want access for all women to education, healthcare, abortion, jobs, money and equal fucking pay.

I want women not to be financially deficient because of the biology of pregnancy and childbirth and motherhood.  I want, instead that very biology valued.

I want the tax on sanitary items removed.  Because you know damn well if men bled every month  that tax just would not exist.

I want to be able to be emotional and even a little irrational without that being condemned as a terrible and terribly female thing to be.

I want to be heard and valued and honoured and I want that for my sisters too.  The ones I know and love and the ones I will never meet.

I want us not to be victim to violence at the hands of the men that are supposed to love us.

I want us not to be afraid of the tremendous and unique power that we hold inside us, within us, I want to be able to harness it and unleash it and I want that for you too.

Some people today are saying it's unimportant that Michaelia refuses to align with feminism, that it is not an issue, that it's pedantry or semantics.  But the smart money tells me that having a Federal Minister for Women that does not understand the importance of the acceptance of the term feminism is a problem, a big one.

Cash says, "I can tell you I get out there and I passionately, passionately pursue gender equality every single day and that’s what you want the Minister for Women to do."  But if that's true then she's a feminist.  What is she shying away from?  Clearly, like most politicians, she's afraid of losing votes.  The votes of the people that still regard the word feminism as something ugly, something militant, something man-hating.  But that's a bullshit reason and the Minister for Women should know enough to know that.  The Minister for Women should, ideally be able to argue that point and lead on that issue.  Imagine the ability she has to educate and promote on that point, to help redefine the term for those people who clearly don't understand it.  She should be able to.  But in order to do that she would have to first be able to call herself a feminist.

What a squandered opportunity.

What are your thoughts this International Women's Day?

Image Licensed Under Creative Commons via Morguefile


  1. Well said! The whole feminism = man hating attitude is simply a quick way, for those who believe this, to avoid using ones imagination and empathy in order to contribute something worthy to the conversation.....

    1. Yup. Totally. Thanks for reading and commenting! x

  2. I cannot believe she said that! So disappointing. I love what you have written.

    1. I know, right? SO perplexing and disappointing. Sigh. I'm alternating between feeling defeated by it and feeling really fucking riled up. But thanks for reading and commenting! x

  3. Great post. Thanks for getting fired up and writing it. While the Minister for Women refused the opportunity to lead on the issue, many proudly call themselves feminists and continue to show, talk, and lead by example on what that truly means, and why it's important. Reaching out in solidarity x

  4. That's RIGHT Pia! I think it's important to get disappointed and then feisty about theses things, as they are important, but yours is a good reminder that there are still some amazing strides being taken by some amazing women (and men) in these areas. Thank you! x

  5. Well said. I'm a feminist and proud to be. I can't stand it when a woman in power refuses to be associated with the F word. Grrrr!

  6. It's so disingenuous and irritating isn't it Rebecca? And why is it, does she think, that she is able to serve in Parliament in the first place? Grrrr indeed. x