Do I have to be a feminist, or can I just be a woman?

10 Apr

Is that not the most ridiculous title… and yet, I am hearing so much debate about this very topic at the moment. The saddest part, it’s primarily between women!

In the past few weeks we’ve heard Germaine Greer have a go at the PM’s bum (I mean REALLY!) which caused uproar amongst feminists; Jacquie O came out saying she didn’t want to be called a feminist which caused some to criticize her and others to ask why she needed to be labelled something at all; and Samantha (Bloody!) Brick caused controversy after penning an article about women hating her because she was beautiful (Just quietly Samantha Darling, they hate you because you are narcissistic enough to write the article, it has nothing to do with your looks!).

By definition, feminism means ‘The advocacy of women’s rights on the grounds of political, social, and economic equality to men.’ (Not, we all hate men and are therefore lesbians like I think a lot of men might believe!) But at the end of the day in western society, we have won the battle on these primary pillars that feminism was based on. Significant feminist voices such as Germaine Greer have changed the goal posts slightly, their ideas were based on women’s liberation as opposed to equality to men – they were fighting for a woman’s right to choice, to embrace the differences between men and women, the ability to define our own values and goals and it not just be about ‘doing what men do’.

All of the banter and arguing about that dirty little word – feminism, and what women think of each other has really got me thinking. And of course men are left saying ‘here they go again’ – how can we really expect them to think any differently when we are still pulling each other down. So what does this mean to me you ask? Well you didn’t, but here’s your hot tip of the day – I’m going to tell you anyway! I believe in a lot of the principles of feminism; however I don’t think I need to be labelled something to do so. I also believe that women need to start putting each other up on pedestals and promoting each other, not tearing each other down while men just sit back and roll their eyes. I quite often feel like I can’t share personal successes with girlfriends – like the don’t care or they just don’t want to hear it, and I think that is sad. Why aren’t we all out there shouting “You go girl” and encouraging each other to succeed.

I recently became a member of a great organisation for women called ‘Business Chicks’ a national community of business women in Australia – a whole group dedicated to promoting and helping each other succeed. On the forum there was a great article last week entitled ‘Are you a Rapunzel or a ladder kicker?’ where it talked about  the fact that we have achieved that gender equality in the workplace that feminists of days past fought so hard for, and yet now we are kicking each other down.  I wish I had had women who had let down their hair and taken me under their wing, but I certainly hope that I will do that for other talented women in the future. Why do we continually forget that another woman’s success does not detract from our own? Rather than being envious or insecure about it, we should be learning from each other and even, god forbid, asking for help or advice.

I personally look to a few women out there that I truly admire and have had the sort of success that I aspire to. They run their own companies, they are published, they are respected in their fields, they have families AND from what I can tell they are Rapunzel’s and not ladder kickers! To me women like Mia Freedman currently of mamamia.com.au, Roxy Jacenko of Sweaty Betty PR, Lisa Wilkinson currently on channel 9, and many, many more, embody these aspirations I have of the sort of woman I would like to be known as.

So whilst saying the PM’s dress sense often made her bum look big, was perhaps not Germaine’s finest hour, maybe one of Julia’s girlfriends should have pulled her aside and just quietly said ‘hey darl, let’s lose the boxy jackets’ rather than sending her out to the wolves, or maybe we could have focussed on the 1minute 20 sound bite of Germaine talking another woman up that came before the silly bum comment! Either way, whether you consider yourself a feminist or not maybe think about whether you are a Rapunzel and that doesn’t just apply to the business world – because that is when I truly believe feminism has won, when we have established equality amongst ourselves.

I call myself a feminist. Isn’t that what you call someone who fights for women’s rights? We all come from the same mother. That creates the basis for compassion.” – The Dalai Lama

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2 Responses to “Do I have to be a feminist, or can I just be a woman?”

  1. Daniela April 10, 2012 at 12:18 pm #

    How does it happen that one so young, has a better insight into “feminism” than most women who have been around since the ‘movement’ began. Powerfull stuff, my love!

  2. leowfactor April 24, 2012 at 3:13 pm #

    I have recently renewed my identity as a “feminist” as a response to certain types of male chauvinism and what Greer so aptly called “c*nt-hatred” which have entered my life via certain unavoidable people. This is has been a positive thing for me, because I was so used to being the token female in male-dominated settings that this forced me to question the way I related to other women, and the contribution I would need to make in order to live up to the feminist label. Like you have written about, I realised that I needed to stop trying to prove my equality by being one of the boys, and start being an Alpha Female, or a “Rapunzel,” as you put it, by helping to model success and female empowerment and provide mentoring and support for women who want to excel. For a long time I had avoided the company of other women, as it had been true in my case that other women had not always been happy for my achievements. I believe though that we are at a really interesting stage in women’s liberation or feminism, because the time has now come to redefine what it means to become a woman, and overcome the self-loathing which years of trying to succeed in a patriarchal society as instilled many of us. Sorry for ranting… thanks for the post!

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