Today on International Women’s Day, I was thinking about the many influential, courageous, wonderful women in my life. The women that inspire me, encourage me and show me what living your values means. I thought about the women I didn’t know, whose actions paved the way for the freedoms and privileges that I enjoy today. There is much to be grateful for.
^ That paragraph there, while 100% valid and true, was placed at the top of this page so that you, dear reader, didn’t perceive this to be a feminist rant.
You see, for me to share my opinions about gender equality and to point out that there is in fact something systemically wrong in our society (that women are not yet truly equal, and that even small things like girls’ deodorant packaged in pink bottles are part of the problem), I need to balance this out with ‘nice’ things.
I need to add the #notallmen clause (yep, lots of men stand up for gender equality). I also need to point out that many women like me are in very privileged positions, despite owning a vagina and identifying as women.
I need to qualify my statements.
The dictionary definition of qualifying is… ‘to modify or soften a statement or action’. Soften. SOFTEN.
The last bloody thing this message needs is to be softened. It needs to be heard loud and clear and it needs people doing something about it.
GENDER EQUALITY MATTERS AND WE NEED IT NOW.
I mean a few centuries ago would have been nice, but yeah okay now will do.
I absolutely don’t want to trivialise how important it is having everyone, regardless of their gender, fighting for equality and how much I appreciate the opportunities I currently have due to sacrifices made by others. Still, I shouldn’t have to tally the number of times I say feminist so I can balance the story.
As long as the word ‘feminist’ is seen more often with ‘rant’ rather than ‘idol’, we’ve still got a huge problem and I’m going to continue banging on about it until something changes.
I’m taking a leaf out the wonderful Dame Helen Mirren‘s book and using the words FUCK OFF more frequently (and yes, the capitals were necessary).
To expectations that I should make my opinions feminine and ‘nice’ so that they’re easier to hear, I say fuck off.
To qualifying statements that smother important messages in apologies, I say fuck off.
To using #notallmen and “what about international men’s day?” to ignore the patterned and socialised nature of gender inequality, I say fuck off.
And to society making us believe it’s more shocking to say feminist than fuck, I say…
(yep, capitals and bold – watch out)
Expecting women to ‘tone it down’ and not go on rants is exactly why we need feminism.
There’s definitely an argument to be made for better campaign tactics and the way we approach social change. I totally agree that shouting your opinion, being unwilling to listen to the other side and making it an ‘us vs them’ argument does not change hearts and minds.
I don’t think loud rants are the most effective way to speak out against inequality, but getting angry at people for the way they speak out against their disadvantage misses the bigger point – why does society expect people at a disadvantage to voice their opinions in a way that’s palatable for the masses?
Alana, you’re talking about words, the way we use ‘feminism’ and pink deodorant bottles. Don’t you think this is political correctness gone overboard? Aren’t there way more serious issues?
I know that pink deodorant bottles seem harmless.
I know what I’m talking about isn’t the most important issue when compared with others, but it’s part of the problem.
Like it or not, just because you don’t see sexism in your social circle, you don’t notice a pay gap at work and you think little girls should dress in pretty dresses, it doesn’t dismiss the fact our society has social norms that perpetuate gender inequality.
You might not be able to see the link between pink for girls and gendercide, but I assure you it’s there. It’s the reason abortions occurred in India after parents were handed a pink (rather than blue) slip of paper following an ultrasound.
I can’t stop gendercide. All I can do is talk from my experience (as a white cis woman) and call out inequality when I see it.
In my day-day life, the words I use, the way I talk about other women, the questions I ask and the assumptions I question are all in my control.
It may seem small and insignificant, but we can all create positive change.
My top picks: IWD2016 recommendations
Reshma Saujani’s TED talk was the highlight of the many IWD related posts that filled my newsfeed today. She talks about the way we socialise girls to be perfect, rather than brave. It’s an excellent talk.
A close second was Radio National’s ‘Having it her way‘. The stories of six Aussie women “who took risks, did what they wanted and ignored all the warnings”. I caught the story of Claire Weekes on the drive to work this morning – a pioneer of modern anxiety treatment and mindfulness.