This kinda puts me at odds with so many ladies in the social sphere. Beyonce, Katy Perry, that chic from Big Bang Theory, Julie Bishop, Shailene Woodley, Kelly Charkson…(wow, the list is long and impressive in talent and scope) have all rejected the tag of being a feminist at various points. Many of the ladies asked about being feminist claimed that they were for equality of both sexes and that the label “feminist” is too harsh and exclusionary. If you are a bit confused about whether they identify as feminist, I have heard you and I have devised a very quick tool to help decide if you are a feminist or not.
Firstly, let’s get a dictionary definition in place:
1. The doctrine advocating social, political, and all other rights of women equal to those of men.
2. (sometimes initial capital letter) an organized movement for the attainment of such rights for women.
3. feminine character.
And now the test to help you decide if you are indeed a feminist:
- Do you agree that women’s rights are equal to that of men?
If you answered yes: Congratulations! You’re a feminist
If you answered no: Congratulations! You’re a muppet!
I know a lot of people get their knickers in a twist as feminism has some how been skewered to mean man hater, under arm hair wearer, high heel denier and well, dour and humourless. Not true. We’re a very broad church and even though I’m a feminist, I love men, I shave my legs (er, only when I remember or I have a date with my rowing zootie coming up). I love heels, I celebrate the differences of men and women in the workplace. I also believe that the lack of a national approach to domestic violence is shameful and a blight on this fine nation. On average 2 ladies a week are dying at the hands of their partner or ex. Is that OK with you? Because it sure as hell ain’t squaring with me. I think that the idea of child brides and genital mutilation in any culture is abhorrent and needs more action that soothsaying and mansplaining along the lines of “well, you know, they have been doing it for centuries”. And I reckon that paying ladies less than their male counterparts, being underrepresented on the political front, in boardrooms and upper management is just plain wrong . But I still love men and I don’t blame them for this pickle we have found ourselves in. To address these problems listed above and more is going to need both men and women to come together, get out the iced vo-vos and start some strategic planning with an action plan. Because yapping about stuff is great, but action trumps everything.
To celebrate the recent international women’s day, I want to shine a light on the ladies in my life that have made me a better person and feminist.
Do not be fooled by the form of a 71 year old with a walking stick and flair for the home-made dress whipped up on the Singer, this lady has been so formative in the development of me as a lady and business owner. Growing up, my lessons from my Mum were never about getting me married off and having babies. Not that she would have minded me pursing these goals outright. No. Noelene Jeffries life lesson to me was to develop myself through education and experience. Her take on life was that you weren’t much of a person or a potential partner if you did not have a rich inner life and a broad range of experiences. So while other kids got Baby Alive, I got a set of Funk and Wagnalls encyclopedia. Other kids got bikes. I got a skateboard and a shove down the hill of Aries Way. Other kids got taken to netball on a Saturday morning. I was given a shedload of art materials and a quiet house on Saturday morning while the rest of the family went and did the weekly shop so I could create art. This was not an idyllic Enid Blyton style upbringing but man, it put me in good stead for what was coming down the line for me. I will be forever grateful for my mum giving me a lifelong love of learning and the ability to see what was possible beyond the borders of Elermore Vale.
I have a lot of sharp edges to my character. I can’t help myself from mouthing off at people who hog the right hand lane while driving 15kms under the speed limit. I start fights with some fella in a newsagency at 7.20am on a Sunday morning because Ian Thorpe is on the cover of the Sunday rag coming out as gay and the sock puppet calls him a “effin’ poofter”. I have snapped an entire CD collection of an ex’s….I’m not saying is wasn’t justified but there is no good excuse to trash masterpieces like Tool’s early albums. My sister once described her kids as being her heart living outside her body. Whey they hurt, she hurts. When they are happy, she’s happy. Well my sister is the better version of me. Where I light torches to burn all bridges behind me, she is more considered, suggesting that I might like to put down the burning flame and slow my roll. She has been my wise counsel, my true north and my guiding light. All this and she’s 5 years younger than me. She’s my first call when I am overjoyed, white hot angry, in the pit of despair or have fallen off my bike (twice in one day). I got the love of rock and roll and she got the calm, ancient feminine wisdom mixed with being the funniest person I know. She also has my heart, like her beautiful, funny and spirited daughters do.
My Aunty Christine
She’s my mum’s youngest sister and only 14 years older than me. When I was growing up, she was not around a lot as she lived in the badlands of Cambelltown teaching primary school kids so I desperately looked forward to those weekends she came home and stayed at Grandma and Grandad’s. Even better if I was staying there as well because Mum and Dad had an event to attend. Nothing was sweeter than climbing between the flannelette sheets and then being taken on an oddessy through stories real and imagined from Aunty Christine self illustrated books and memoirs. I slept under her paintings and listened to the mix tapes she sent me in the post. I was taken to galleries and museums and she even managed to wrangle me a trip to an art camp when I was feeling lost and misunderstood in my early teens. Even now, she is a lighting rod for new inspirations and sage advice. I recently had a girls lunch with her in Newcastle and 2.5 hours were soaked up with reminisces, Snoopy references, dark tales from the family of origin, problems raised and solved and the love of being in the company of someone you so admire and adore and just “gets” you. I never take that sort of unconditional love for granted and when I flap about trying to think how I can be a great aunty to my nieces, I only have to look at example my Aunty Christine laid down for me as that is the ULTIMATE.
I’ve also been lucky enough to be under the influence of these remarkable ladies that I want to celebrate:
Anne Summers – She help found the Women’s Liberation Movement and started Elise’s Women’s Refuge to help women and kiddies fleeing from domestic violence at a time when that stuff wasn’t talked about, you just “ran into a door” and toughed it out.
Anne Deveson – set the standard for female broadcasters though the 60’s and 70’s and wrote an amazing book “Resilience”. If you have lost someone you love READ THIS BOOK. She is just an all round interesting lady and she’s not disappearing into the long night quietly. Google her and the interview she did with Good Weekend, you won’t be sorry.
Lowitja O’Donoghue – Speaking of resilience, this lady is the gold standard. Activist, chief ruckus causer, renegade, classy…I barely know where to stop the list
Chrissie Amphlett – Rock music is my church and she is my high priestess. She was dangerous, unhinged, passionate and uncompromising on stage. Her unique style paved the way for so many other front women – and men.
Do me a favour? Go hug a feminist. Or someone who loves a feminist. I’d love to hear in the comments below about a woman who has been a guiding light in your life.
And in the meantime, let’s get a bit dark and dangerous with Chrissy. Roll tune!