Last year I was on a year 12 camp. One night, as we were all sitting around the fire, the topic of feminism came up. I said I was a strong supporter, expecting the majority of my peers to agree. Not so.
One girl came out with this “I’m not a feminist. I don’t see women as equal to men.” I wasn’t sure I’d heard correctly. What? Who could think such a thing?
“Why don’t you think so?” I asked. Perhaps she had some reason.
“I don’t know. I just don’t.” was her reply. Um, okay…
Her attitude is not uncommon. I have heard numerous young women express that they don’t see a need for feminism. I have heard young women mock feminists and say they find sexist jokes so funny. It’s a far more common view than I’d like to believe. I’ve even heard young women apologise on behalf of feminists to men. When I hear this I think what on earth is this nonsense? Why are these women apologising to men? For imposing on their patriarchal value system? For wanting equality? A lot of girls seem to be under the idea that if they are anti-feminist, they will somewhat be more appealing to men. Word up to these people – these are not the kind of men you want to impress.
I think another part of it is lack of awareness. The number of times I’ve heard young women say that we should be fighting for everybody, not just women, is unbelievable. Do these people not realise the basic facts? Sure, we’re not living in the 1950s anymore, but you can’t ignore the fact that women are still not paid as much as men. Women are still far more likely to be abused by a partner than men. Women are still raped. People still think it’s funny to laugh at women being raped. These things all go on and we have girls saying we don’t need feminism.
Part of me wonders if these people are deliberately ignorant or simply unaware.
However, I don’t think that matters. Because when it all comes down to it, in condoning and applying sexism, these women are doing a disservice to all women. You may think laughing at a rape joke is harmless, when in actual fact it’s validating the idea that rape isn’t serious. You may think it’s okay to make jokes about women belonging in the kitchen, but this actually reinforces the idea that women aren’t worthy of respect and have no intelligence. When women say they don’t care about feminism or believe they’re equal, that validates men who think the exact same thing. And that is very dangerous.
To these women – you may think feminism is irrelevant, but guess what? People held those same exact views 100 years ago. In fact, it was once believed that if women pursued academic pursuits they’d lose their fertility. It seems ridiculous to hear such things now. Feminism and the fight for equality isn’t an end game – it is a constantly moving and evolving thing. Which side of history do you want to be on?
Ruby is a member of the UMSU WAC. To get involved head to http://www.facebook.com/groups/umsu.womyns/