I am woman, hear me roar! As long as you’re roaring about exactly what a modern day feminist expects you to be, otherwise, take a seat.
Feminism should not be a dirty word, and yet its often misinterpreted message seems to have made it so. According to Debbie Brennan, the spokesperson for Melbourne-based feminist group, Radical Woman, feminism is about absolute equality for everyone, but it seems that its been lost to a culture of woman-shaming feminists with an altered understanding of feminism.
Ms Brennan explained to The Newsroom that judging the choices of other women “Opposes the most feminism’s most fundamental fight; for woman’s rights to live as independent and equal human beings, decide the courses of our lives and be leaders in society.”
Feminism is about “the obliteration of sexism, homophobia, transphobia, racism, and all forms of oppression and discrimination,” Ms Brennan. Thus, the movement should express a tolerance of all lifestyle choices.
However, this tolerance can sometimes go astray. Do you want to be a stay-at-home mum and raise your kids while your husband works? Oh sorry, you are setting back women’s rights about 100 years. We didn’t burn our bras so you could just do whatever you wanted. But wait, isn’t that actually exactly why we did it? So that women would have the right to be and do whatever they please? If you want to be a lady boss CEO, great; if you want to be a stay-at-home mum, great; if you want to dance in your underwear, great; if you want to be a doctor, a hairdresser, a firefighter, a model, or a policewoman, then great! If you identify yourself as a feminist, great, if you do not, that is also great.
“Women, whether we identify ourselves as feminists or not, are struggling against all forms of hardship and injustice,” Ms Brennan told The Newsroom. “Being patronized and judged, getting no recognition, working in crappy jobs, juggling finances, being sexually harassed and feeling inferior, but when the pennies drop, we come out fighting, this is the true objective of feminism.”
Feminism has done so much good for the world and will continue to do so. Without the feminist movement woman may still not be allowed to vote, sexual harassment could still be a tabu subject, and the pay gap would be completely ignored. It is an important movement that is fundamental to soliciting social change and achieving true equality.
Feminism is about equality. Feminism is about being who you are, proudly and unapologetically. It is about having the right to say and do what you feel. Feminism is about freedom. It should not be about crucifying the male population, or other women who do not identify themselves as feminists. It should not be about preaching on a soapbox about how being skinny, or girly, or feminine makes you less of a woman. It should not justify the notion that it is okay to tear down other females for their choices, goals or ways of life.
“It demonizes and shames feminism and feminists,” Ms Brennan explained the misconception of feminist values. “We are man-haters, bitter, humorless, ugly, unnatural.”
A few years ago, there was uproar amongst feminist groups directed at mothers supporting One Direction, either by taking their children to concerts or buying their CDs. The basis of this stemmed from the lyrics of the band’s chart-topper, What Makes You Beautiful. The article claimed that songs like this are bad for feminism as they teach young girls that not having confidence is attractive or okay, and apparently that is not a valuable lesson to learn.
Shouldn’t we be trying to establish a mindset that it is okay to be insecure? If having a group of good looking boys sing that being insecure is okay makes a whole bunch of young girls feel good, then why do we need to turn around and cut them right back down? Yes, confidence is great and wonderful, despite what some may try to tell you; no one is 100 per cent confident, it is impossible and against human nature to be so. True feminism does not shoot down girls who have trouble accepting themselves, or those who enjoy being called pretty by members of the same or opposite sex. True feminism does not consider you less of a woman for feeling sad about having a fat day, or hating your hair.
True feminism does not trivialise insecurity.
Ms Brennan commented on contradictory feminist ideals, “This is the struggle, it is historical and ongoing, and the battle of ideas plays a big part.”
If I want to sit at home and watch a Nicholas Sparks’ movie, eating my weight in chocolate, or blast a poorly written sappy song about a boy, then why the hell can’t I?
“Feminism’s reputation depends on our class vantage point,” said Ms Brennan. “Feminism has a powerful reputation as a liberating force among woman and men, exploited and oppressed by this system, who understand the need for woman’s equality.”
There are so many positive aspects of feminism, and as a society we still have a long way to go to achieve equality – in all its forms. We need to stop tearing each other down and start tearing down the walls of inequality, which are holding us back.
According to Ms Brennan, who identifies herself as a socialist feminist, capitalism is the main enemy of woman’s rights. “Capitalism needs sexism,” she said. “The profit system must defeat feminism, the capitalist ruling class understands the feminism is its nemesis, and it knows what a mighty force we are.
“Feminism must have a vision of the real choices woman would have in the kind of world we’re fighting for.”
So you go forth feminists, we all support you and thank you for your hard work and dedication. You keep fighting the good fight, just remember what it is you are actually fighting for. – Kaitlyn Wilson
Top photo by Sarah Allen.