Welcome to our second installment of our Women of Words Blogcast! (What? You didn’t see the first one? It was awesome! Check it out here.)
Women of Words is the blogcast of:
Bec @ Seeing The Lighter Side
Mel @ Hugzilla Blog
Amy @ HandbagMafia
A blogcast is similar to a podcast; essentially a conversation that others might find interesting (we hope!) but in written form instead of audio (because we haven’t figured out the audio stuff and besides, we’re writers!). This installment deals with feminism; what it means to us and to others. We’d love to read your thoughts in the comments!
Feminism- What does it mean it?
Mel: Man-hating women with castration fantasies… Or the social movement that seeks equality between the genders?
Bec: Anything that promotes eliminating discrimination on the basis of gender.
Amy: Yup. For me, it’s literally a social movement seeking the same rights and opportunities for women that men already have… plus the castration thingy (JOKES!)
Mel: Can we just add an overarching #notallmen disclaimer to this conversation too?
Amy & Bec: Sure!
Bec: I never actually thought of myself as a feminist until I realised that what other people saw as feminism I saw as ‘normal.’
Mel: I think most people would agree with the core principles, but the perception of feminism wildly diverges from that.
What does it mean for men?
Bec: Equality for women benefits men too – they can experiment in their own careers and not have to be the breadwinner in the house. My income has enabled my husband to take a huge salary cut so he can pursue the career he loves.
Amy: I saw something Ruby Hamad wrote recently, I think she was referencing Greer- she said we shouldn’t be looking for equality because the current system or paradigm or whatever (and I’m paraphrasing madly here) sucks and we don’t want to be part of it- instead we should be tearing it down and building a new one where we are all equal to begin with- I liked that a lot.
Mel: Equality for women involves dismantling the system of entrenched privilege that men exclusively benefit from. So while there are gains for men, there are losses too.
Bec: Yes – I think that’s really the ‘next wave’ feminism – understanding that there will never be equality until we realise our entire system is based on inequality. Starting with the fact that most ‘women’s work’ is unpaid or low paid but most ‘men’s work’ is paid. It shouldn’t be about women doing men’s work, it should be about women’s work being valued.
Mel: I can understand why some men would have a vested interest in demonising the goals of feminism to maintain the status quo – they have the most to lose from this.
Amy: They do- and they ignore all they have to gain.
Bec: I think they have a hell of a lot to gain, they just don’t realise it.
Amy: …perhaps it’s a bit of both, ignoring/not realising.
Mel: There’s a lot of social, economic, personal and political power that men stand to lose if women reach true equality. We can dress it up all we like, but it’s true.
Bec: But think about it – equal pay doesn’t mean less pay for men. And yes, they lose the housewife at home waiting with pipe and slippers, but they gain an actual equal partner in life.
Amy: But they also lose their advantage when it comes to employment though… and positions of leadership.
Mel: But it means that men have more competition on the employment playing field.
Mel & Amy: Snap!
Bec: Doesn’t it also create a wider field with more opportunities? You could argue the same about immigration stealing jobs, but it doesn’t – it just creates a larger pool.
Mel: They’d also lose the boys club nepotism that dominates some industries because there would be more women in management positions.
Amy: Men stand to gain an awful lot from feminism but those gains don’t seem to translate to money and power.
Bec: But they’re still competing with the other boys. It’s really no different.
Mel: But instead of only competing with 50% of the population they are competing with 100%.
Bec: That’s true – so is the discussion we need to have about the value of power? To redirect society’s understanding of what it means to ‘be a man’?
What about women who reject feminism?
Amy: It makes me sad and angry all at once. I hope that they reject it because they don’t know what it means but I think some do know- and still reject it.
Bec: Either that or they’ve grown up, like me, thinking their ‘normal’ is truly normal – but it’s actually feminism. Honestly, I find it incredibly difficult to deal with female anti-feminists. I just don’t understand them. It’s like freaking Stockholm syndrome.
Mel: I think a lot of women reject it out of fear of the backlash. It takes a lot of personal courage to speak openly about these issues, and to deal with the hostility that often accompanies them.
Bec: Interesting point, Mel- women who have been raised with the notion that they have to appease men in order to be seen as attractive and therefore valuable.
From that point of view I can see why someone would feel uncomfortable with what they see as feminism. Is it a “branding” issue then?
Amy: I know some super intelligent and rational women who reject the term feminism while adhering to the basic tenets- equality, removing oppression from women etc and for them it IS a branding issue.
Mel: Let’s face it, we aren’t conditioned to be assertive and dominant. We are mostly conditioned to be compliant, cooperative and nurturing. So not only do we need to transcend our social conditioning, we also need to be confident and assertive enough to handle the backlash.
Amy: They identify feminism as a negative- burning bras and not shaving and most importantly, hating men.
Mel: I also agree there is a major branding issue- and a systematic campaign of propaganda that seeks to undermine and discredit the entire movement.
Amy: I read an opinion piece a while back about the women against feminism social media campaign that suggested many of the participants were actually “sock puppets” for the “men’s rights movement” and I use the term “men’s rights” loosely. I’ve tried using my blog to show that feminism is accessible, empowering and beneficial, but yes, that has resulted in backlash towards me- trolling, abusive comments etc.
Mel: I’ve faced online backlash for my posts on feminist topics as well – even tongue in cheek versions- and from my friends and family. So it’s not just the faceless internet you are up against.
Bec: How would you sell feminism as something for everyone? Should we be trying to, or should we be coming from the standpoint that simply says ‘It’s unequal, it’s unfair, it’s unreasonable, it must change’ without sugar-coating?
Mel: I’m not sure you can. Feminism isn’t a hive mind – it’s a dynamic social movement with lots of differing viewpoints and open debate. I think reasserting the core principles is definitely the way to go, particularly because there is a lot of divergence within the movement itself.
Amy: Yes, it’s important we keep talking about what feminism means and what it does NOT mean- it’s not misandry, female dominance or castration etc.
Bec: True. And it’s not until you see something like the Melbourne Cup race win this year – first time a female jockey has won it ever – and think WHY? That was a really bizarre moment for me. Jockeys need strength, yes, but they also need to be small and light which… isn’t that a traditionally female trait?
Amy: That’s really all one can do- as Mel said, there are many “branches”- from your TERFs right through to your intersectional feminists. I do think that a lot of the hesitance and refusal to wear the feminist label, if you will, comes back to the various forms of the movement being undermined by men and men’s groups.
Bec: There’s so much entrenched sexism still that we don’t even notice, quite apart from the big stuff like double digit pay gaps.
Mel: The #everydaysexism hashtag is sobering reading.
Bec: I think getting back to the core principles is really important. It’s not just ‘against men’, it’s a systemic thing. It’s our entire economy and systems that are set up to favour men.
Amy: Just on the Melbourne Cup- another friend told me how her husband was at a work do watching it and the men responded to (winning jockey) Michelle Payne’s speech by saying she should “calm down” but when asked if they didn’t believe her, they said she was probably right, actually. Often, men KNOW women cop this sort of thing- but they don’t want to hear it.
Mel: That’s right – because then they are morally responsible for standing up to it and calling it out within their own gender.
Bec: That’s not something you can change by tweaking a few laws here and there. It requires a massive overhaul in the way we even think. There’s a big difference between knowing and understanding. I think we need to go right back to basics and institute something like in Scandanavia – where men are made to take time out to rear children. They need to be made part of that unpaid, sidelined, invisible workforce in order to actually understand what women are on about.
Amy: In Iceland, they have a much better idea of equality actually in practice than we do
Bec: We could just do the mass women’s strike, like they did in back in the 70s I think?
Amy: Yup, in 1975, 90% of Icelandic women went on strike– amazing. Those ladies know how to mobilise and get shit done.
Bec: It’s a catch- 22 – if we don’t have more women in politics, are we ever going to get laws that enable this sort of change? Or will we eventually find enough men at the top who want to make the change? We need a grassroots movement – because we do, after all, have the right to vote…
Mel: I think that mostly the laws are already there. The battlefield is in the social and cultural norms that distinguish between the genders. The ones that define women as “lesser”. You throw “like a girl”. Stop being a “drama queen”. You are such a “precious princess”. Girls are weak, emotional, not good leaders.
Amy: We are women that put our voices out there- obviously we don’t have the platform of say- I don’t know, Miranda Devine…
Bec: Yes, but Miranda Devine has the likes of Clementine Ford to contend with.
Amy: Yes! Bless Clem Ford! But there are a lot of voices in the media shouting feminism down too often- maybe we need some more feminist media moguls?
Amy: What do we think of male feminists?
Mel: I think they are brave motherfuckers.
Bec: I know plenty of male feminists who don’t even know they’re feminists. They’re awesome!
Amy: They are brave but you know what’s funny? Male feminists- we applaud them, right? If we know and love them, we are proud as fuck of them. Strip it back though, and we almost fall over ourselves to praise them for essentially showing basic, human decency.
Bec: I mean, FFS, we’re raising the next generation – what is more valuable than that? The future of society as we know it depends on women, in our current model- we have the kids in their early, formative years of life.
Mel: Well we could start raising feminist kids by going back to gender neutral toys – I can see the impact of that even with my own two boys, who WILL NOT PLAY WITH THE PINK TOYS BECAUSE GIRL.
Bec: Yes, same.
Amy: My three year old adores pink. I don’t even know how that happened.
Mel: It doesn’t come from us. That comes from society. They already know from a young age that pink = lesser.
Bec: Yep – I tried telling my 5 year old that pink used to be what royal princes wore because it was a watered down version of the royal red… I don’t think he believed me.(It is true, I didn’t just make it up).It’s not just pink = girl, is it? Its girl = bad.
Mel: Yes. Sigh.
Amy: Exactly- “You run like a girl”- worst ever, right?
Bec: I do everything I can to counterbalance the rubbish my boys get fed outside of home, but it’s like fighting an uphill battle.
Mel: I even saw something on ABC kids the other day. Some boy on a kid’s science show. URGH THAT’S A GIRL’S BIKE. *rides off reluctantly* The sneer in his attitude was so apparent. I thought “My fucking kids are watching this”. And the ABC are usually good at this sort of thing. This is how pervasive t is.
Amy: As parents, we have an uphill battle. As women, we have an uphill battle.
Bec: So how can we change it?
Amy: I propose we haul ass up those hills. We keep talking about it, keep challenging it, keep teaching our kids.
Bec: I think it’s fairly simple how we can change it – we write about it, talk about it, teach our kids about it and demand change. Loudly.
Mel: Nah, we should go back to core feminist principles like misandry and ritual castration.
Bec: I kind of like those bits… let’s keep them, yes?
Amy: What do we want? EQUALITY (AND MAN PARTS?!) When do we want it? NOW!
So tell us, are you a proud feminist?
IBOT @ Essentially Jess