Am I a feminist?

Lately, I’ve trawled YouTube and have been watching videos on different women and how they view feminism. A number of them classify themselves as “anti – feminist” or neither anti or pro feminist. Here are just some of the videos I’ve watched lately.

Content warning: coarse language

OK, that’s one of the videos I’ve seen in the past couple of weeks. I have seen others, but haven’t found them (note to self – keep titles of YouTube videos in mind or written down!).

Anyway, just trawling through the videos just then (there are MANY both pro and anti feminist videos out there), a question came to me – am I a feminist?

Well, it depends what you mean by “feminist”. These days, I believe the term has been hijacked by social justice warriors that have made women in particular run from the label. When you have “feminists” like Clementine Ford and Van Badham, I, like other Millennials want to run away from the label faster than you can say “I am woman”. Also, there are a lot of myths that have plagued feminism, like the 1 in 5 rape statistic in America that is apparently debunked:

 

Closer to home, feminists have been accused of pursuing trivial causes, while ignoring the suffering of women in the Middle East and Africa under Islamic rule. Feminists have also been accused of ignoring the domestic violence epidemic in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities, particularly in the Northern Territory. To be fair to feminists, sites like Mamamia have reported on DV in ATSI communities, but it has been few and far in between from what I’ve seen, which, if I’m looking properly, is disappointing. Then again, it’s not hard to do. I’ve only written about the issue once. Then, there’s the whole political correctness overkill, trigger warnings overkill, etc, etc. Yep, it’s turned into a bit of an unfunny joke, really.

 

However, there are feminist blogs I do read and I do agree with some of the sentiments. Sites like Ravishly are very inclusive and do give voice to women of colour, as well as Caucasian women, including many LGBTQ+ women. I do have respect for how they allow women to talk about different struggles such as mental illness. Also, again, closer to home, last week, in light of disability awareness, Mamamia did a great job giving voices to women affected by a physical disability or looking after a grown child with a disability. Despite the criticisms I’ve made toward publisher, Mia Freedman, I do admire her for her advocacy a number of causes, many of which her and the rest of the Mamamia team do very well.

So, feminist publications do a good job in raising awareness about issues. But, am I a feminist?

To be honest, I’m actually not sure. I mean, I do write and care about women’s rights, yet, I’m critical of modern day feminism. Then again, I can see that, without going to the fringes, feminists can do good. I haven’t been actively involved in feminist activism or anything (I used to get quite involved on – line, but not anymore). I think if you take away the blown up statistics, the seeming exclusion of minorities, especially the plight of ATSI women, hypocrisy, etc, then I guess you could say, yeah, I am a feminist. It’s not perfect by any means, and like I said, there are people that give it a bad name, but I don’t think the overall cause in and of itself isn’t bad. If we, including me, as feminist can drop the double – standards, triviality and stand up for all women, then I think feminism can be made even better.

 

What are you? Feminist? Anti – feminist or something else? Who are feminists past or present that you respect?

This is what feminists have to complain about. Really?

Watching the video embedded in this Tweet, UK Sky News reporter gets in a heated debate about men calling women pet names. Yes, really. Now, when it comes to names, I always say that if you call someone a term of endearment or a nickname that they don’t like, then back off and don’t push the issue. I think it’s a matter of respect. And this applies to all people regardless of gender.

But it does make me raise the question, is this all feminists have to complain about? This is the sort of unfunny joke I talked aboutin this post – making EVERYTHING into a bigger deal than what it is while largely turning a blind eye to real issues facing women, particularly those from racial minorities. Since I wrote that article, on the ABC’s “The Drum” last night, they did have a woman talking (very briefly, I must say), about how to combat domestic violence in ATSI communities. So it’s something… I guess.

 

Back to pet names, etc. Again, respect is key. If you’re asked to stop saying/ calling someone a particular name, then stop. But how this has become a major feminist issue – at least in the UK, I just don’t get. Is this all there is? I mean, FGM, the atrocities committed by ISIS and other terrorist groups, domestic violence in racial minority communities… I mean, that’s not worth a mention…. or maybe worth a one – off mention here and there, but is the issue of pet names really more important than these?

There’s another thing too – this idea that men, by default, have to be demonised, for something. Anything. It’s another thing that have men walking on egg shells about. Is this how we want our society to be – a place where our fathers, brothers, uncles, male friends, etc don’t know what to say or how to interact with women in fear that someone might be offended. What would happen if men even starting withholding affection, either verbal or physical, not out of spite, but just out of fear of saying or doing the wrong thing. That would be something, I’m sure most women won’t like.

 

Ladies, we have to start picking our battles and realise that all men are not our enemies. If we continue to treat them like they are, then I can’t help but fear that we’ll end up regretting it.

Feminism needs to advocate for ALL women – including ATSI victims of domestic violence

Former chairman of the Prime Minister’s Indigenous Advisory Council and Order of Australia, Warren Mundine wrote an piece in “The Australian” highlighting the pandemic of domestic violence in Aboriginal communities. He condemned the Aboriginal leaders for being silent on the epidemic and also punishing anyone who does speak out. Women who dare speak out about violence are shunned by their tribe and are often blamed for what happens to them. The perpetrators are often protected. For those who don’t know, this isn’t coming from a “white” columnist. Mundine is from the Bundajulung tribe – traditional inhabitants of of far North – East New South Wales and southern Queensland.

Mundine highlighted a number of cases, (which are really hard to find on Google, I might add), of where women were brutally attacked or killed by partners. One was near Bill Bell Park, Darwin and another incident was a woman who was constantly stomped on and kicked by her partner in Alice Springs. According to Mundine, the Bill Bell  Park murder occurred the same time Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull demanded an Royal Commission after ABC’s “Four Corners” aired a segment with concerning footage of events in the Don Dale Detention Centre in Alice Springs. These were not heard of in mainstream media. The only exception was Sky News’ (Australia), Matt Cunningham. Since then, Andrew Bolt from the Herald SunABC Radio National (RN) have spoken about Mundine’s article.

Nothing on Mamamia even though they have spoken about the domestic violence rate in Aboriginal communities last year… that article took me a while to find, by the way. From what I saw, there was nothing about the more recent murder near Bill Bell Park. Nothing from Clementine Ford’s site (should I be surprised?). I didn’t watch “Studio 10” today. Whether the panel mentioned it, I’m not sure.

This is quite an appalling record by many in the Australian media, especially by those who claim to champion the rights of women and children. As Mundine asked rhetorically:

Are people outraged only when white women are abused? Do only white children deserve protection from pedophiles? (sic)

 

So, why is there a lack of reporting? Most likely “cultural sensitivity” gone mad, not wanting to rock the boat and risk causing offence or demonise Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander people collectively. Mundine had a blunt message about that in the article too:

Frankly, if Indigenous people remain silent we deserve to be tarnished. When communities protect abusers they are complicit in abuse.

 

Maybe a part of the problem is that Australia, maybe out of guilt, has over – romanticised Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture. But Mundine pointed out failings in Aboriginal communities in regards to domestic violence. For example, women who are abused are too often afraid to speak out because she runs the real risk of being blamed and ostracised by her own family, as well as the supporters of the perpetrator because the abuser and victim are often from the same tribe. Brave women have risked backlash by speaking out. These include: Jacinta Nampijimpa and Bess Nungarrayi Price, who condemned the number of children being abused in Aboriginal communities.

 

Yes, there is a lack of commentary and reporting from feminist bloggers/ journalists. I must admit, I’m not innocent in this. This is the first post that I’ve dealt with the issue of violence in Aboriginal communities in any sort of depth. It hasn’t been a topic that has entered my mind a lot. And, admittedly, the fear of seeming like stigamatising the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities has crossed my mind. But this can’t be seen as acceptable by anyone. It’s appalling and should be called out. I do commend Warren Mundine for speaking out about this. I doubt this would’ve been easy for him to expose, either. Hopefully, he’s sparked a much needed discussion about violence within Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities. A discussion that is long, long overdue.

 

Feminism For Everyone – Where Are The Voices For Minorities?

I was watching “Studio 10” this morning and they were giving away DVDs to the audience of the movie “The Suffragettes”, which is based on the true story of the Suffragettes that demanded women have the right to vote. The protests started in 1897 when Millicent Fawcett formed the “National Unit for Women’s Suffrage”. Her argument was that women, who could be involved in school boards at the time could be trusted to vote. To read more about it, go here.

It made me think about how far women in Western countries have come. Common focuses for feminists now are things like equal pay, paid parental leave and domestic violence. The problem I have is that the voices that are often heard in the media are those who, apart from being women, if you like, are generally quite privileged.  They are: cis, able – bodied, Caucasian and middle/ upper class. I’m not saying that these women don’t face problems. But, because of a lack of representation, other issues are too often ignored or not properly advocated for by feminists in the mainstream media.

Where are the voices for:

  • Aboriginal women – who are victims of domestic violence at a much higher rate than non – Aboriginal women
  • Disabled women, who again, are much more likely to be victims of domestic violence than the general population
  • Women who can’t get employment and live in impoverished conditions, making them more vulnerable to domestic violence
  • What about women who are abused by other women.
  • In the workplace, where is the demand –  not just a “feel good” charity case here and there – that people with a disability aren’t discriminated against by employers, or potential employers
  • The rights of trans – identified women and other gender minorities.
  • Justice for women who have been subjected to violence based on religion or culture, such as FGM, honour killings, etc.

 

True, feminists, such as those who write for blogs like Mamamia, have addressed issues such as domestic violence in same – sex relationships. What I’m saying is that the fight for the rights of women need to extend beyond us – beyond the “average” or “upper – class” Australian. Let’s fight for ALL women’s rights. Frequently. And without political correctness. Saying that domestic violence is a problem in Aboriginal communities does NOT mean that ALL Aboriginal people should be branded as a domestic abuser. Saying that domestic violence is a problem in many same – sex relationships does NOT tarnish the whole LGBTQ+ community.

It’s time we stood and fought for ALL women. All voices need to be able to be heard. No one deserves to suffer anything in silence, regardless of any labels (gender, sexuality, socio – economic status, etc).

What’s In A Label?

On last night’s Q and A, Minister for Womwn, Michaelia Cash (not Michaela, apologies for that error last night), was asked whether she identified as a feminist. In response, Cash said that she didn’t care too much about labels, but gave into pressure by Mia Freedman and Penny Wong and reluctantly took on the label after expressiong passion for gender equality and putting an end to domestic violence.

I found the pressure for Cash to label herself a feminist was a bit much. It’s just that – a label. Labels, if used, should be a personal decision based on how an individual feels. So,why wouldn’t some people want to label themselves as feminists?

This came up a year or so ago with the – then Foreign Minister, Julie Bishop. Some conservative commentators theorised that Bishop didn’t identify as a feminist necause of the political ideology that often comes with the label. Maybe Cash feels the same way (if that’s how Bishop felt), who knows? And honestly WHO CARES?!

Are there issues that still need to be addressed in terms of gender equality? Of course. So let’s do the job that needs to be done! Let’s give more confidence to women to ask for pay rises or to be at a different rank (apparently one of the causes for the gender pay gap), let’s fight against domestic violence, make childcare more affordable, etc and forget the labels, or at least make them truly optional. Because a label is only a label if we don’t put anything behind it. It becomes more about semantics and endless unecessary talk, when it’s action that’s needed. I really like Mia Freedman’s work (a lot of it), and I respect the fact that she identifies as a feminist, but I disagree with her on the importance of the ‘feminist’ label. It’s a word. It’s the actions that count. Let Cash do her job. Any labels are up to her.

 

Did you watch Q and A last night? What do you think of the label ‘feminist’?

 

 

 

Barbie Been Made The Enemy… Again

According to “Herald Sun” this week, Greens Senator Larissa Waters caused outrage again by suggesting that Barbie dolls were purporting gender stereotypes, and ultimately, gender – based violence. The issue was raised not that long ago.

Sooooo, what are we going to do about it? If Barbies have that much of a negative impact, why have they been so popular for over 50 years. According to the Herald Sun last year, the sale of Barbies in the US has gone down by 21% according to toy company, Mattel. In 2011, sales were said to have dropped by 10%. Reason given was, not the protest of sexism, but the rise of more dolls on the market, such as, I’m guessing, the famous Bratz dolls. But they aren’t going anywhere soon.

I used to play with barbies. I was obsessed with them. I wanted pratically every new Barbie on the market and drove my parents nuts! And I turned out OK. So has everyone else I used to play barbies with.

 

My suggestion to the likes of Waters and any other Senator worried about domestic violence, do something about THAT! Fix the A.V.O system, make more shelters more available, and whatever else needs to be done. Constant debates about things like Barbie dolls are just ridiculous and it’s just a debate that, in my opinion, ignores the real issue.

Note to Larrisa Waters: stop wasting your time having useless, meaningless discussions about Barbies and be a part of the solution in combating domestic violence.

Zoo Weekly Has Stopped Publication After This Month, Playboy to Stop Naked Photos of Women – Win For Feminism?

Last month, it was reported in the media that controversial “lad’s mag” Zoo Weekly was going to stop publication and distribution after this month. This was welcomed by staff at blog Mamamia last month. The reason? Apparently, sales of the controversial lad’s mag has fell steeply. Which makes sense. You don’t continue producing what isn’t selling right?

Is this a win for feminism? The Mamamia staff seem to think so. Historically, ‘lad’s mags’ have always clashed with feminists, including Hugh Hefner’s Playboy back in the 1970’s (talking about playboy, they’ve reportedly stopped publishing photos of naked women).

Win for feminists? Well…

In the comments section of the blog post above, commenters condemned women’s mags such as ‘Women’s Weekly’band ‘Woman’s Day’ (Australia), for focussing on women’s looks and gossip. I do get the critic’s point.

We won’t win the war on sexism and violence against women until feminist of the Labor/ Greens persuasion stop beibg so divisive. As I’ve written before, we need all sides; conservatives and liberals to be united on the cause. Maybe we need to be open to unpopular opinion, and not scream every time Miranda Devine writes a blog post about issues like domestic violence.

In regard to domestic violence, I believe we need to be open to hearing about women from all walks of life, including Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women, who are statistically at higher risk of domestic violence than Anglo – Saxon women. I’m not sure about women of other ethnic backgrounds (and am too slack at the moment to Google for other information).

Which brings me to another point.

Last month, Daily Telegraph columnist and blogger Miranda Devine was condemned by Mamamia’s editor – in – chief Jamila Rizvi for a blog post where Devine strongly argued that women from an impoverished background, where unemployment and welfare dependence was high, along with certain lifestyles of women put them at greater risk of being victimised. After the backlash, she published a post with statistics from NSW Bureau of Crime Statistics that indicated where the higher prevalence of domestic violence occurred. Yet, she was slammed by it. Why? Too politically incorrect? Because Devine is a highly conservative columnist who writes for Newscorp? My guess, it’s a mixture of the two, frankly. But in my opinion, we NEED voices like Miranda Devine and get all data we can to make sure that everyone who is affected by domestic violence can get the help they need, regardless of their ethnicity, Indigenous status or socio – economic background.

So, yeah, I guess for many, the collapse of Zoo Weekly is a victory for women and feminism. But it’s only a small victory in my opinion. If we’re going to make the world, or at least Australia, a better place for women. we need to be holistic about the goal, stop the liberal/ conservative divide and aim to help ALL women, even if doing so puts a stop to the ignorance of data that show any thing we wish that weren’t the case.