I’m a feminist. No, no, no, come back! It’s not what you think! I don’t hate boys! I still like makeup and baking! You just don’t know what a feminist really is yet.
I’m not here to scare you away, shave my head or burn my bra. I’m here to educate you. A few months ago someone asked me if I was a feminist. One incredulous look and an “Uh, yes” later, I realised he must have asked other girls and heard differently – that there are women in his social network who don’t consider themselves feminists. That hurt my heart. My heart, guys. I convinced myself the only women who claim not to be feminists just don’t understand the term. It was the only way my heart could take it.
Don’t worry, I was once frightened of the f-word too. When I was younger and genuinely convinced that I would marry Justin Timberlake, one of my celebrity BFFs was Hilary Duff. (Whatever). When she said, “I’m not, like, a crazy feminist. I think women definitely need men. Like, I couldn’t imagine having a girlfriend!” presumably in Dolly magazine, I decided that I agreed with her. Feminists ARE lesbians! Who ELSE would care so much about girls?! And this is where the problem begins. Misconception breeds men and women who are beginning to reverse an important movement. But how can you be against something you don’t understand?
A few years ago, out of nowhere came a bunch of Facebook groups about girls ‘making me a fuckin’ sandwich’. Those guys are idiots. But then girls started joining them.
And started telling other girls to get back to the kitchen. Look how cool I am, boys! She wears short skirts, I wear t-shirts! COD rules! I’m just one of the guys! Girls are such bitches! Do you know what’s worse than a misogynist? A female misogynist. You make me furious. You make me sick. You need to be sat down and told off for betraying your gender.
Girls who make these jokes aren’t helping themselves. They’re just reinforcing the idea that this is okay. That guy who laughs when you joke about domestic violence might take you to the movies. Congratulations! You’ve just found a boyfriend who thinks it’s okay to mentally, verbally and/or physically abuse you! Lucky you!
“It’s a JOKE!” you scoff. Well, it’s not funny. There are men who really think that a woman’s place is at his beck and call, and when you make these “jokes”, you’re not only accepting their behaviour, you’re encouraging it. One day in year 12, I was talking to a guy about our uni plans and complaining that, as a writing major, I was doomed to tend bar forever.
“Don’t worry about it,” he said.
“Why not? Do I glitter with the light of impending success?”
“No,” he said, “You don’t need a career. You’re a woman. You’ll be someone’s wife.”
EEERRKKKKK went the sound of the tires in my head skidding to a halt. Excuse me?
Since when does having a set of ovaries mean that I’m not entitled to do more than get married and volunteer at the canteen on Fridays?
Of course, there’s nothing wrong with being a full-time wife and mother. But there’s nothing wrong with being a neurosurgeon with a drawer full of take-out menus, twelve birds and the full selection of Foxtel channels, either. And both of them can be good feminists.
I want to vote. I want to make the same money as my male counterpart. I want the right to get as many abortions as I need to, and I don’t want to have to justify it to anybody. I want the right to be a mother and a working professional at the same time. I want men to understand that they can, and should, be feminists too. And unless he wants to live on spat-on scrambled eggs on toast and dirty looks, I want my husband to be sure that he’ll do his share of the cooking.
I want all women to have the right to be dominatrixes or lawyers or housewives – as long as they’re the ones who chose it. Marry a woman, marry a man, have ten kids or twenty cats: just make sure YOU picked it. That’s a feminist, and if you still don’t want to be one, then we don’t need you.