Editor’s Note: Hi guys! I wrote this all the way back in 2014 but I think it’s still really relevant. Also, as I always do, I am proudly wearing purple – this year my socks, bra, undies and dress are purple and I’m rocking sparkly purple eyeliner! This piece was originally posted on my old blog.
I’m not very good at sharing, ask my mother. She drilled the ‘sharing is caring’ ethos into me, but that doesn’t mean I’ve taken to it well. However, there is one thing I don’t mind sharing and that is sharing my birthday with International Women’s Day (IWD).
I don’t believe it was a coincidence that I was born on IWD. I was always going to be head strong, stubborn and demanding and at the forefront of all of this was the equal rights of me and every other woman. (I’m also incredibly entrenched in the LGBTQI community and their rights, but that’s for another time) I was raised by not one, but two incredibly strong (and stylish, because you can be both) women: my mother and my aunty Kerry – and surrounded by even more. Women who were at the forefront of their fields, women who had worked hard to break down the barriers so that my generation didn’t have to, women who wanted it all and got it all. I was also lucky enough to get a dad and a grandad who pushed me to succeed, to overcome hurdles and who believed that I had just as much right to success as any man.
I was lucky, feminism was taught to me from a young age. I marched in IWD marches before I could even walk and I had an excellent mentor in my aunty Kerry, who would buy me books about feminism, teach me about different feminist theories and question me when I said things that were naive and misguided.
I was encouraged to read and play sport, while not being denied girly things like Barbie dolls and kittens – because Barbie dolls and kittens and make up are not inherently bad, if balanced out with literature and politics and sports. I learned from a young age that I could be smart and still wear a pink dress, just like Elle Woods (who subsequently became a fictional inspiration for me). I was going to be the first female Prime Minister! (Although I do not begrudge Julia Gillard for beating me to the post, she was a real life inspiration that so many girls needed)
My parents worked hard to send me to a school that held that very same ethos: that women were just as good. Every year we celebrated IWD (and my birthday got overlooked) and the achievements of so many wonderful women in our community – but this wasn’t a one day event, it was drilled into us throughout the school year: you are capable of anything you want. I called myself a feminist all throughout high school and, compared to the bullying girls at other schools have experienced, mine was minimal – because so many other girls called themselves feminists too.
Women in Australia today are still paid 80 cents to the male dollar, and that’s in the first few years out of uni/TAFE, before we have children. We’re still blamed for being raped, as if the way we dress or act is the reason it happens. We’re still subject to endless double standards about our bodies and clothes: too many and we’re a prude, too few and we’re cheap. We’re still slut-shamed if we have casual sex, yet men are ‘studs’ and ‘players’. We’re expected to take on most of the homemaking duties ontop of our hectic careers. Our bodies are legislated upon, as if they’re up for discussion. We aren’t equally represented in government! Our first female Prime Minister’s public image was twisted just because she was a woman and so everything she ever did that was good (so many things) was overlooked.
Oh and we’re the lucky ones too, being born in Australia. We’re light-years ahead of most other countries in the world, and we still have a long way to go.
But you know what upsets me most? Is that so many women, including our current Minister for Women, Michaelia Cash, refuse to call themselves feminists. Because they’re afraid of how men might react, because they’ll get called a lesbian (not an insult), because they don’t want to rock the boat.
What part of women’s liberation isn’t for you, ladies? Do you not like dressing how you want to dress? Do you not enjoy having careers? Do you not want to be able to go out, without a chaperone, and order your own drink? Do you want your right to vote evoked? Do you want to be forced to marry young and stay at home, with children for the rest of your life? (note: forced – because it should be a choice, not an expectation)
THEN YOU ARE A FEMINIST! And you know who else should call themselves a feminist? Your boyfriend, your husband, your brothers, your dad. Just as I can support gay rights and not be a lesbian, they can support equal rights for women and not be women. Don’t let feminism be a dirty word any longer!
So every year, on my birthday, I wear purple (the colour of IWD) to remember and salute all those women who paved the way for me to have all the privileges I hold today and whose war I continue to fight for all those little girls who look up to me. Thank you.