Sunday, March 20, 2011

It's a theory, not a disability

There's lots of talk of feminism on the lady blogs at the moment. I see many bloggers defining feminism, shaping it, putting their own blogs in context amidst the definitions of feminism. 

It's all very interesting. I don't use my blog for airing my political views but tonight I thought I might. 

I'm not just a feminist, I'm a rabid feminist. I'm am entirely humourless and immobile in my views when it comes to women's rights and equality. Regrettably I don't have anything interesting to argue or or any level of analysis that hasn't been splayed and  dissected a thousand times before by persons more clever than I. 

However, I've been a feminist for a long time and can share some handy hints for those amongst you who might like to be a feminist. If you already are a feminist, you might wish to disagree with my points. I welcome all views. I'm running a broad church here and welcome any discourse. 

If you agree with me, you might just like to look at the pictures. 

*Read  A Room of One's Own by Virginia Woolf. It's an essay and it makes a very salient point - that basically a woman needs her own space and her own income. With that she can achieve a lot. This piece is written expressly for women as writers, but I think the lesson is valid for women in all fields. 

Reading is a powerful tool, Women who can read can learn about their health, make informed decisions about legal and spiritual matters, find employment, use their money wisely. Consider giving to a charity that supports literacy programs. If money's tight, see if you can spare an hour or so a week to help teach literacy skills at your local community centre. 

* If you live alone, you do all the housework. If you share a home, you share the house work. This is never as easy as it sounds. Men hate housework and rightly so - it's tedious and never ending. I have a theory that men climb mountains and risk frost bite and avalanches, travel to places like the moon and embark on journeys around the world on solar power mopeds to avoid house work. It is also my contention that they have structured the world's commerce around the 9am - 5pm period because that's when the bulk of house work gets done. This is why it took so long to get equal rights in the work place. Men didn't want women there because it meant the house work wouldn't get done and they might have to do some themselves.. Tough luck, gentlemen. You have to share. There is no argument. Go pack the dishwater and while you're up, fold the washing. 

Here's our laundry, drying inside while it Sydney is drenched under March rains. My husband sorted and washed. We'll both fold. I'll iron tomorrow while he gets the groceries.  The respect he pays our home and me makes my heart sing. 

*Don't waste time with faux-feminist arguments. Example: should the toilet seat be left up or down? Answer: Who cares? If you leave it up, I'll put it down myself. Same things goes for opening doors, giving seats on buses and laying your coat in a puddle. They're nice gestures but they aren't going to help any woman who's hitting her head on the glass ceiling. I don't have time to waste on whether or not men realise women might use the same toilet and might not want to sit on Arctic porcelain. Gentleman, we need your help and support in many more important areas like equal pay and safety for women at night.   

And speaking of toilets reminds me that everyone should have a glass of hot water with the juice of one lemon first thing every morning. Its a good way to rehydrate after sleeping and especially beneficial for your liver. A healthy liver means a strong, empowered woman. Chin chin. 

*Take time to consider all the unpaid labour that women have contributed to the world. It is worth billions. Image how much a team of management consultants would charge to wash, cook, clean and raise three children. 

This bag was made entirely by hand by a woman in her fifties. She made it to sell at a church fete. How much was Fendi selling their needlepoint bags for last year? $3000? 

She didn't miss a stitch. 

*Feminism is a political theory. Its tenet is simple - that men and women are equal and therefore are entitled to equal rights. There's no rules to what kind of person can subscribe to feminism: feminists can shave their legs, grow avocados, breed ferrets, paint chapels, drive tractors or unicycles, wear ribbons in their hair, own jewellery, decorate their house with amber bowls, cast iron cats ...
...and little twee wooden birds. They can collect stamps, horde tapestries, carve likenesses of 1950s film stars from small pieces of soapstone, make soap, construct scale models of Georgian town houses from matchsticks, ride horses and  maintain a pointless collection of old coloured bowls. 
They can also have too many magnets on their fridge. The point is, there is no look, type, personality or descriptors for feminists. They are simply people who believe men and women are equal, much the same way socialists (who believe all wealth should be distributed evenly and the all services provided by the state) or capitalists (who believe in privately enterprise unfettered by competition from free state services) don't have a look or give off any signals. Incidentally, feminists can be socialists or capitalists too. They can also be evangelists, anarchists, traditionalists, fundamentalists and fahionistists. 

Feminists read (and write for) women's magazines. Note: they don't always agree with them. 

*Look after yourself. Get some exercise, maintain an a regular bathing schedule and eat lots of nourishing food. These kinds of seemingly bleeding obvious suggestions are actually huge privileges for women in poorer countries so count your blessings every day when you're having a run, eating a good breakfast or having a hot shower with nice soap. Lots of women can't. Lots of women will die from not being able to eat, keep clean or exercise. 

And yes, feminists can wear flowery trainers. I bought these Liberty Nikes precisely to make this point. Whenever I wear them I wonder about the woman who sewed them. Did she get to have breakfast? Was she allowed to have a lunch break? Were her kids okay while she worked twelve hours a day? 

You can make your point a different way. There are lots of ethical sellers trading on line now, selling goods they have bought for fair trade prices or manufactured using labour that is treated fairly and paid properly. Oxfam is a good start. 

So there you have it - a Shilling's worth of a feminist manifesto. Was it helpful? 


  1. Yes. And I agree with you.

    I find it disspiriting when women argue among themselves over feminism (or anything else). Its basic tenets are so undeniable that debate should be unnecessary. It's when people branch out from the basics that things get hairy -- but we don't have to go there. We can agree on the foundation of equality and then allow everyone freedom to explore life and dress however they want.

    Thanks for clarifying an often-confusing issue.

  2. Absolutely excellent stuff!
    I'm in full agreement,especially about the stupid toilet seat matter!

  3. Shy, I like the different opinions on feminism - it's the willful misinterpretation that really distresses me - that feminists are men haters, anti babies and all that rot. I just wish more women were willing to adopt the term gleefully rather than eyeing it with mistrust. Thank you for reading, and thank you for responding. As always, your sharp mind is appreciated!

    Thanks Helga! I'm so glad you agree. Incidentally, I love your silver shoes on your post today - tres chic!

  4. I'll give a good AMEN, though I consider myself a peopleist more than a feminist! Of course men and women should be equal, and of course everyone should have choice in their lives and be limited only by their own ability and work ethic. It's distressing to me that the men are cast as the villains. Most men, most women, most PEOPLE are good and don't want to hold anyone else back.

    My peopleist thing? Doing microloans on I will check out oxfam!

  5. You are right, Freeda - it is distressing to cast men as villains. I wish I had made it clearer that I don't hold that view. Many men are supportive and active in promoting equal rights. Sometimes I think the work I do makes my view a little skewed - I'm grateful to you for grounding me! You have a lovely heart.

  6. Excellent manifesto. Womanifesto? Feministifesto.

  7. Toilet seats down!

    Women have shorter urethras, which often means shorter "warning". Also, many women have continence issues due to childbirth and/or age. And it's more difficult for us to "whip it out" to get the job done- more clothing needs to be removed, and we have to take the extra time to sit.

    Seriously guy, put the bloody seat down!

  8. Thank you for reading K. Bean and thank you especially for womanifesto, which is now an official word in my vocabulary!

    Fair comment Lawyerdoll! I hadn't thought it of that way. (I did, however, grow up with lots of brothers!)