I had something completely different planned for this week’s post, but I read an article this morning by Clementine Ford, and I was moved to action. The article was called ‘I was a teenage non-feminist’ – and was written in response to this dastardly website ‘Women Against Feminism’, where women post photos of themselves holding up a sign explaining why they don’t need feminism. Nauseating statements like ‘I don’t need feminism because I like to be treated like a lady, by a gentlemen’ – sorry, when did you say you were born? Are you sure it wasn’t 1933?
And ‘I don’t need feminism because my boyfriend treats me right’. Well, bully for you! Happy for you, but what about your best friend whose boyfriend doesn’t treat her right? This is the underpinning argument of Ford’s article. Just because you are secure in how you are treated as a woman should not mean that there is no fight to fight.
Ford explains that the ‘Women Against Feminism’ movement has completely misunderstood what being a feminist means. She explains ‘Part of feminism’s core mission statement is to advocate for a world in which all women, not just some, are given equal opportunities and respect.’ It’s not a global anti-men movement, but a movement that advocates for global equality.
I can recall a tram ride home from University nearly 15 years ago. There was a young woman on the tram with her friend and she was explaining to her friend why she didn’t have to be a feminist. She said ‘My Mum was a feminist. So thanks to her, I don’t need to be’. Even back then, I was alarmed at such a declaration and turned to look at this woman, just to get a visual on what a person who would say such a thing, might look like. She looked just like you and me. Educated, well off and articulate.
But what was interesting about this conversation that I wasn’t a part of, like Clementine Ford, I’d never called myself a feminist. But if it did one thing that day, eavesdropping on that conversation, it confirmed to me that I was indeed, a feminist. So today, I come out of the closet properly. You should to.
I’ll tell you why I’m being a little bit bossy about this. We are fighting a good fight, but let me tell you, the road is long and fraught, and really we are in the very early stages. There is no doubt that I have benefited enormously from the first wave of feminism.
I do believe if I was born a generation or two earlier I would be one of those gin-soaked, valium addicted mothers, imprisoned by my own life. I know this simply because I did try to be a stay-at-home Mum, for a while. After about 16 months I was nearly demented by it. So thankfully, the path forged so far by the sisterhood means that I’ve managed to avoid the gin/valium path – at this stage anyway.
You should come out of the closet to. If you have daughters, continue forging the path for them. If you have sons show them why its important to treat women equally – one day they may have wives and daughters themselves, but if not, they will always have a mother, who deserve equality. But look beyond your backyard and be outraged by what you see.
In India, a woman is raped every 20 minutes
In Afghanistan, more than half of marriages involve a child bride (under the age of 16)
In Mali, one in ten women die in child birth
Genital mutilation is not a thing of the past. More than 125 million girls and women alive today have been undergone genital mutilation, in the 29 countries in Africa and Middle East where it is most prevalent.
Now, I don’t mean to alarm you with these statistics, but this is what is happening with women, and to women, all over the world. And before you shake your head and say ‘well, not here in Australia’, I’ll tell you this:
Just over 16% of women in Australia & New Zealand have been sexually assaulted, and that doesn’t account for the women who don’t report it
Melbourne’s Royal Women’s Hospital says it is seeing between 600 and 700 women each year who have experienced genital mutilation in some form
The National Children’s and Youth Law Centre has identified 250 cases of under-age marriage over the past 24 months.
So it is happening here. These horrors may not be as prevalent, but they are still happening. So, I’m urging you to come out of the closet with your feminism. Challenge misogyny and passive sexism, point out to your sons and daughters that chauvinistic acts are not ok. Just chip away, and do it knowing that its not just for the good of the sisterhood, but for the liberation of all.