Growing up I was not really aware of feminism. It wasn’t a topic of discussion in my house. In my early university days, I came across it a little but it wasn’t until I became a mother that I began reading more in earnest.
Gloria Steinem’s documentary on SBS called ‘Women‘ is fantastic and I’ve really enjoyed reading Selma James and bell hooks lately, with Sara Ahmed a newer discovery.
The problem is, most women of my generation were taught that feminism was about burning bras and having hairy armpits (nothing wrong with that). We were taught that we had equality and we just had to act like men in order to succeed. We were told we could have everything, and we just had to be confident.
But now, in my late 30s, it’s pretty clear you can’t have it all, not at the same time. Sheryl Sandberg says to lean in, there is a bit of a resurgence in the housewife, homemaker movement, and women are obsessed with labelling food in their pantries and ‘tidying up’. But it distracts from the key issues. The patriarchal system is still alive and well, the rise of nationalist, white and populist governments, far-right white supremacy and the gender pay gap, are all issues that are present today. The latest Australian budget essentially ignores women and a twitter hashtag #crediblewomen was trending for a few days. The hashtag arose from the PM’s office who were quoted as saying ‘no credible women have complained about the budget’.
And in less industrialised nations, as highlighted in Gloria’s documentary, things are far more dire. We can’t give up, and we have to speak up for those who voice isn’t loud enough. We can’t speak for others, but we can speak to the issue, and to raise the stakes enough to allow for marginalised voices to be elevated.
I’m a feminist, and proud to be one.