18 May 2023

Yes, I am a feminist - and you probably are too, even if you don't admit it

| Zoya Patel
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raised fist covered with purple dye

Gender equality may not have been completely achieved, but large areas of inequality have been drastically changed. Photo: Adrian Vidal.

I was politely chatting away at an event on the weekend when an acquaintance approached and called out, “Whoa, don’t talk to the feminist!”

I wasn’t aware I was wearing my uniform, but I guess my reputation precedes me. We laughed, and the conversation moved on, but I mulled on this later.

See, it was clear that to the guy who had made the joke, my feminist identity was something to be scorned and made fun of. He isn’t the first to suggest this. I’ve been an out and proud feminist since I was a teenager, and people have gone to great lengths to tell me how awful feminism is since then and likely will continue to do so until the day I die.

Because the reality is I will always be a feminist right up to my last breath. Regardless of how that word is co-opted by brands and celebrities, how it’s muddied by politicians and reviled by misogynists, my feminism isn’t something I don when it suits me. It’s a system of values that guides all of my life, and though it might irk you to learn this, it’s highly likely that you also practice feminist principles, regardless of what you think of the term.

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Feminism is about equality.

There is really nothing that complicated about it. What makes it complicated is how a fundamental belief in equality is difficult to put into practice in a world that is predicated on systems of inequality.

The reason so many people balk at feminism is because to truly, genuinely strive for equality for all people regardless of gender, sexuality, ethnicity, religion, ability etc, we would have to be willing to concede some of the privileges we might enjoy as a result of existing inequalities. It’s hard to accept, and so it’s easier to villainise a movement instead.

But progress is inevitable, and despite those who tried to withstand the gains of feminism, we now live in a world that has been irrevocably changed by my feminist foremothers.

Gender equality may not have been completely achieved, but large areas of inequality have been drastically changed – suffrage, the right to work, bodily autonomy and rights, representative leadership, a growing understanding of gender diversity, etc.

And some previously scandalous feminist ideals are now the accepted norm. So if you believe that women should have the right to vote, to work, to choose how to spend their lives with or without a male partner, to own property and to hold elected office, to name just a few basic and early feminist wins, you are a feminist. Or, at the very least, you have a lot in common with one.

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If that troubles you, and you feel moved to point out all the ways in which you’re not a feminist, then you clearly, fundamentally don’t believe that women or anyone other than a cis, straight white man, is worthy of basic human rights and freedoms. Because that’s what a not-feminist must believe if they vehemently disagree with the basic principles of equality that feminism stands for.

In all likelihood, the problems you think you have with feminism are actually problems you have with a particular individual’s opinions or another power system or social inequality that in some way interacts with gender. But I doubt the cause is feminism – that’s just the narrative that anti-feminist, prejudiced movements want us to believe.

So, if you do happen to see me out and about and want to brand me as a feminist, please feel free – next time, I’ll wear my feminist badge to make it even easier to identify me because if there’s one thing I am definitely not ashamed of, it’s the values I hold as an out and proud feminist.

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Women have been manipulated unfairly by the Left.

The whole feminist thing is just leftist wedge politics.

The natural way things work is just fine.

So feminism is an entirely self consistent and completely undisputed ideology?

Everyone on earth in every creed has the same idea on feminism?

Why is it called feminism if its about equality. Should it not be called humanism?
Or are you part of the uneducated that believes males dont face similar gender related discrimination?

The women I talk to don’t wear labels or identify as this or that. Usually the first question I ask a woman who is new to the work place is what NRL or NRLW or AFL or AFLW team they go for. I don’t ask about boring ball (soccer). 100% of them give an definitive answer. As for men, about 50% say they don’t follow any sport

The opinions of Sam Oaks and the chauvinists of this world reveal that the rights of women and laws to combat gender discrimination have a long way to go!!

They had better watch out for the thought police van parked out the front

This is an oversimplification of even western standards, let alone the global status of women.

Women are full human beings, not domestic servants whose full potential and therefore equality is unlocked only with the invention of technology.

It also seems like you’re suggesting advances in technology creates a linear trajectory for society?

“Why are boys unable to form relationships and connections with actual human beings…?”

Definitely nothing to do with a 24/7 consumption of an online environment where exploitating the female half of humanity is normalised.

My post above was to be a reply to TheSilver

Balance needed1:49 pm 19 May 23

I’m certainly a feminist in the old fashioned way it’s described in this article. I am certainly not a feminist when the new feminist ideology talks about all violence against women being “gender-based”. New feminism demonises men (the “patriarchy” – say that with a disgusted sneer) which has nothing to do with striving for gender equality. If anything, it’s about females being superior to males.

These “feminists” ignore my repeated entreaties to show some concern for females who have been emotionally bullied by another female at some stage (ie pretty much every woman who’s ever lived). Because the unpleasant fact that mean girls wield indirect emotional aggression against other females far more than males do doesn’t suit the modern feminist narrative that only men are perpetrators and only women are victims.
I want no truck with this sort of feminist ideology.

TruthinMedia12:24 pm 19 May 23

@Sam Oak – I agree with your sentiment but women do get pregnant on their own (I think you meant without a male partner) either as individuals using donor sperm so in this case they do need to consider the financial implications.

Yes agreed and in those cases there is potentially another female breadwinner capable of earning income for the family. If a single parent, there are also males out there that raise children on their own. Equality exists and there is no current systemic disadvantage to women is what I’m saying.

When I joined the Public Service in 1976 there were a lot of incompetent senior male managers around. When I left in 2007 equal opportunity had been achieved & there were equal numbers of incompetent male and female managers.

Balance needed1:25 pm 19 May 23

Hey, that was my experience too!

That’s because people get promoted into incompetence, or the Peter Principle

Why would you want to call yourself a feminist, an inherently gendered term, when you could simply believe in egalitarianism?

Also, as has can already be seen in the comments, most people would say that they believe in “equality”, the problem being that we will have vastly different interpretations of what “equality” actually means.

Some people believe equality means that outcomes for people in all areas should be the same, whereas others believe that the inherent differences will naturally result in different outcomes.

Without a shared definition, these types of discussions are not often meaningful.

This is the opinion section of the media so what interpretation of equality do you believe in chewy?

not the same one that the author of this article does.

“No woman ever got pregnant alone – why should they take higher financial hit? “
Again another example of hypocrisy at its finest. At the same time you argue that abortions should entirely be the choice of the woman despite men playing a role in the conception.

I don’t think feminism accomplished anything. Women’s equality is entirely explained by technological developments. Prior to the industrial revolution, pretty much all men and all women worked (with the exception of the very elite). The industrial revolution changed the nature of families. Men and women still basically all worked. What we fail to understand today is how much time was involved in basic home maintenance. The invention of the vacuum cleaner, washing machine and refrigeration all freed up time for even the poorest people, and especially women. Women had typically been the homemakers in the early industrial era for two reason: being around children and most of the external work benefited from the natural strength advantage men have. The huge amount of labour home maintenance required is basically the reason for the nuclear family. Previously, a more extended family was required to make sure there were enough hands for everything required for basic living to be done. Further technological inventions since have eliminated the strength advantage of men in many work environments. That means that the main requirement for a lot of work now is largely intellectual, and there has never been an observed difference between the average intelligence between men and women.

Add in the birth control pill, which decoupled sex from reproduction (the consequences of which we’re still dealing with), and the technological changes explains everything. In other words, equality of opportunity between the sexes is only possible because technology has eliminated all differences of consequence. What is considered feminism is really just the teething problems of technological developments. You see that every time transformative technologies come along, from the printing press to the Internet. What people don’t get is that home refrigeration, and the washing machine were just as disruptive.

And, of course, the elimination of those technologies would also force the family situations that existed prior to their invention.

Regarding intellect there is scientific evidence that on average women have slightly higher IQ than men. What is also true however is that on the extreme end of the scale men are over represented when it comes to very high levels of intelligence. That is why there are more male inventors, physicists and Nobel laureates. This is scientific fact.

The issue is managers are not your average Joe Bloe so you see an overrepresentation of men in leadership positions based on this biological discrepancy. Women are smarter on average but this means nothing in terms of pay equality as income is commensurate with economic value add. It is also why on average there are more men in poverty and on welfare.

I’m a feminist by definition and a masculinist by definition.
I believe in equality across genders but that doesn’t mean same wealth or income level. It means a fair income commensurate with your level of productivity and contribution to society. Women on average are less productive in terms of physical labour as well as managerial roles – the most productive activities. And the amount of time they take off on maternity leave is more than enough to justify the 12% gender wage gap we currently observe in the data. If it reflected actual output it would be higher.

Prove that “women on average are less productive”. There was a recent study that found that managerial boards that included women actually had a higher profit return than male-only boards. In relation to maternity leave justifying lower wages, please explain why the males who participated in the activity that led to the need for maternity leave should be less liable for the financial cost. No woman ever got pregnant alone – why should they take higher financial hit? And what about women who don’t take maternity leave (about 30 per cent of women do not ever become mothers) – why should they also be subject to the same gender wage gap?

@Sam Oak
You forgot to add “I’m a chauvinist”.

While I will concede that, as a generalisation, women may not be able to undertake the same level of “physical labour”, but what facts do you have to support your ludicrous assertion that “Women on average are less productive in terms of … managerial roles”?

Don’t get me wrong, there are a number of women than perform successfully in managerial positions but don’t think it should not and never will be a 50-50 split across management boards. Recruitment for senior leadership positions are already currently quite transparent and fair across large listed companies and there’s no evidence to suggest there’s prejudice against women currently. What I’m saying is on average women have lower ambitions and are less assertive to succeed in private sector profit-orientated industries. No reason they can’t channel they skills to not for profit. There are just biological differences between the genders that can’t be ignored which on AVERAGE results in pay differentials.

Take the Defence force for example. If we believe women have perfectly equal capacity for strategic decision-making we would expect an equal proportion of male and female generals and commanders. As this is not the case can we argue there is currently gross gender discrimination in our armed forces and something pressing to address?

The opinions of Sam Oaks and the chauvinists of this world reveal that the rights of women and laws to combat gender discrimination have a long way to go!!

Well, sex-discrimination Jack, but I agree with the sentiment.

@Sam Oak
I expect that, as an accountant, you have a degree of intelligence. Yet I struggle to see how you can be such an ignoramus.
You use historical discrimination (“… split across management boards ..” and “… the Defence force …”) as proof of your ludicrous postion that women are less capable in the managerial sphere.
Recent history has shown that women have started to take charge in the boardroom and many of our top defence personnel are woman. Did you know in the 21st Century, we have even had a female Prime Minister in Australia?
Thankfully, attitudes like yours are diminishing as those of the ‘male mental superiority’ brigade take their rightful place in retirement villages.

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