I’ll let you in on a little secret, if you believe in gender equality, that men and women should be treated equally, then you are a feminist.
I’m a feminist.
I am raising my sons to be feminists.
The ‘F’ word simply means to advocate for women’s rights on the ground of equality of the sexes.
So, I will pose the question……are you a feminist?
Do you believe your mother, wife, sister, and daughter should not be treated lesser than a male?
If the answer to that is yes, then you, by definition, are a feminist.
But feminists are loud and opinionated you say, and you don’t want to be associated with that……they make noise and make everyone in the room uncomfortable.
So has every other movement in history.
Universal manhood suffrage, independence wars, civil rights, indigenous rights, gay rights.
You have to make noise if you want to be heard.
International Women’s Day is celebrated on Monday March 8.
This is a time to celebrate women’s achievements and contributions throughout history, and is a focal point for the movement of women’s rights throughout the world.
Women haven’t always been afforded the same rights as they have now.
Such as the right to vote, to work, to own property, access to contraception, to divorce.
And societal change didn’t eventuate because men in power simply thought it time that women should be afforded them.
Women had to fight for it.
Women had to be loud.
Women had to make noise.
And women still sustain criticism when they do.
When they speak out, when they say #metoo.
It’s not easy to put yourself out there, to call someone or something out.
It takes bravery, integrity and the courage of one’s own convictions.
And if we all recognised the power associated with the ‘F’ word, the ideals that brought women’s experiences out of the dark and into the light, we would be much prouder to recognise that we, both men and women, are indeed feminists.
What do you think Bec?
You are the strong and proud mother of four remarkable young women.
How do you feel about the stigmatisation of the ‘F’ word?
How do you feel about the path your daughters will tread in life?
Will they enjoy a different experience as your own in this constantly evolving society?
I’m loving your thoughts on the ‘F’ word.
Although, I’m sure if you asked any one of my girls what they thought the ‘F’ word was it wouldn’t be feminism.
And that’s a shame.
We talk openly and often about the sacrifices made by those who fought, and continue to fight, in war across the ages.
We talk about their bravery, their strength and conviction, their desire for a better world and we praise them for their contributions.
We honour these contributions with days of remembrance and monuments.
And we do it, mostly, thinking of men.
But feminism and feminists? No, we’re still a long way from that.
No-one can argue that gender equality hasn’t “come a long way”, as they say.
But is it far enough?
Men still earn more than women.
Men on the whole do less housework than women.
Men are generally in more positions of power and leadership than women.
It does take a loud voice to be heard.
Women like Rosa Parks and Ruth Bader Ginsberg have left their mark by speaking up. Loudly.
Their words and, more importantly, their actions have helped the world pave the way for better equality for women.
In 1955 Rosa Parks, an African American woman, was arrested for refusing to give up her seat on a bus for a white male.
She sparked the Montgomery Bus Boycott where 17,000 African Americans protested against segregation and refused to ride city buses.
There’s Ruth Bader Ginsberg, a lady who spent her life fighting for women’s rights.
She was the second female justice of the US Supreme Court and famously co-founded the Women’s Right Project of the 1970s.
As a lawyer she brought and argued cases that led the high court to affirm protections against gender discrimination.
Then there’s the White Mouse – Nancy Wake.
She was a woman of courage and resourcefulness who saved the lives of hundreds of Allied personnel during WWII working as a British agent.
These women are just the tip of the iceberg.
We can look across the decades, centuries even, and find women who have been fighting for equality for generations.
Women who have invented, discovered, created and campaigned.
Think scientist Marie Curie, youth education campaigner Malala Yousafzai (who took a bullet in her brain fighting for equality), or English-woman Emmeline Pankhurst, who fought for the right for women to vote and famously threw herself in front of a horse.
She lived by the motto “Deeds, not words”.
Thankfully in this day and age, we don’t need to sacrifice our lives to get our point across.
But we do need to acknowledge the fight in others, to lend our voices in support, to live according to the idea of gender equality and have the strength and bravery to call bull..sh…!
We do need to teach our children and model feminist behaviour in the every day.
Deeds not words people; imagine what we can achieve.