Feminism is not a dirty word.


I am a feminist.

There I said it. Loud and proud. And I don’t know why you wouldn’t be. I know lots of feminists. Some are little girls. Others are middle aged women. Some are men. Yes, men can be feminists too. Then I know lots of people who visibly shudder at the word. Women too. Shudder. Are you a feminist, I ask. God no, is their response.

And I can’t help but raise an eyebrow. How could you not be? I think. But I try so hard not to judge. So instead I posed the question to over 300 women that I have regular contact with (thank you internet). I asked these women if they would identify themselves as being a feminist (and why or why not). And the response I got was surprising.The majority of women who responded (well over 180 women) said No. But it wasn’t the No that surprised me most, as by looking around me at the world right now, it’s blindingly obvious that there are so many women out there who are not. It was the reasoning.

I would never burn my bra. I’m not really into all that stuff. Not all women can physically do what a man can do – equal work for equal pay doesn’t always make sense. I’m a humanist. Not a feminist. I’d rather be called an equalist, not a feminist…

And perhaps the most honest of all.

… I don’t even understand what it means.

And I think that’s where the primary problem is. There are hundreds of beautiful, educated, independent, strong minded and interesting women in my life… and the majority of them balk at the idea of feminism because they don’t understand what it means. The discussion on each of the threads I posted became focused on comparing a woman and a man and how much they are paid. Feminism is about so much more than that. Like general equality, having a voice, having the freedom of choice (no matter what that choice is), reproductive freedom, open conversation, awareness, education, forward thinking. It’s certainly not man-hating. There are many women out there that hate men, but that doesn’t make them feminists. Like so many other things in our life the media has controlled our understanding of something that is, fundamentally, so important.

As a young woman I was filled with doubt. I was told that I was dramatic. That women are emotional. That women are stupid. That a women should be afraid. I was taught by the world that women should have equal rights as men on paper, but that reality is different. That a woman’s opinion is not as valid as a mans. That a woman uses her body to get what she wants. That when a woman is impassioned about something, she is being emotional and it is most likely “that time of the month.”

As a young woman I was called a tease, I was taunted, I was bullied like most girls (and boys). The young women around me called each other sluts and whores and bitches. They hated on each other because women were the enemy. It was us against each other. Life was a competition. High school is a competitive place where girls line up to compare their clothes, their fashion, their bodies. Where boys wolf whistle and grope and laugh with their hands up the short skirts of their female classmates. Classmates who don’t know any better. Girls who think boys groping them somehow makes them popular. It makes them win.

In the adult world, I’ve found, girls are much like they were in high school. Life seems to be a competition. Who is bigger, better, thinner, pettier, richer. We still use those awful names for each other. It’s the media, yes, but it’s also our culture. It’s also us. 

I had bad things done to me. By men. By women. I lived it. I blamed myself. It was my fault. I was young. I was stupid. I was female. I felt worthless. I called myself a feminist before I even understood what it meant. I wasn’t. I wanted to be, but I wasn’t. I used to say, it’s my body, I’ll do with it what I like. I told myself I was being strong and in control. Saying yes isn’t always right. I thought if I always agreed, if I also went along, if I always did it… that no one could hurt me. But I was wrong. I could hurt me. I wasn’t free. I was being used by myself. I knew better. But I didn’t know how to be better. I was young. I was lost.

I’m not so young anymore. And even though I’m still lost most days. I know how I am and I know that I want to be better. Better for myself. Better for the world. And better for Bo.

Feminism is defined by the oxford dictionary as being: the advocacy of women’s rights on the ground of the equality of the sexes. To anyone who says that we live in an equal opportunity world, I call bullshit. To anyone who says that feminism isn’t needed any more, I want to show them the truth. The world is not an equal place. Australia, even with all of its equality is still patriarchal. It is still controlled by the male voice, even with a woman as the prime minister (just look at what WOMEN say about our FEMALE leader – look at the comments on her fashion, her dress, her hair, her relationship – where is the equality in that?). Women are still not taken as seriously. We have a long way to go. Even if the Australian system was perfect, and it is not, you don’t have to go far to see that women are still being treated as lesser creatures in many countries across the world. Is the well being, the safety and the basic human rights of these women not our responsibility. If you even have to question it, IT IS OUR RESPONSIBILITY. Not just us, the women, but us, the men and women, the people of the world. It is our responsibility to make change. Because that woman, she could have been you. If only you had been born somewhere else.

It’s a long road to learn to love ourselves again. To love the women around us. To change the voice in our head and the voice in our heart.

Feminism isn’t about man-hate. I love men. I have loved many men in my life, in many senses of the word love. Most of my close friends are male. Feminism isn’t about hating men (for hate of any kind is not something I would ever attach myself to). It is about loving women. Now, as a woman you might think that all women love women… because how can you not love what you are? Sadly enough this is not the case. The most women-hating behaviour I see? It comes from other women. Because women, in general, are not feminists.

A new wave of feminism is needed. A wave where we reestablish a sisterhood. We need to learn to love ourselves. Our sisters. Our children. To teach our sons and daughters that what’s between your legs doesn’t define you. I know this now.

I’ve never been much for labels. In fact I despise them. I push against them. But this label, Feminist, is one I’m proud to be attached to.  I’d be happy to wear across my chest every day of my life if I thought it would make a difference.

I am a feminist.

For her. For me. For us.

Because standing up for ourselves, is the very first step to standing up for the world around us. For those who don’t have a voice. Because women matter. Mothers matter. Daughters matter. Men matter. Sons matter. People matter regardless of gender, religion, race, age, education, economic status. And to be complacent to that fact is not good enough.

You matter.


Similar Posts:

  • November 13, 2012 - 1:43 am

    dominique - holla!! I know exactly what you are talking about, I work at a car dealership on the back parts counter, as the only female. Everytime I speak up, I get critizied!! I do not get treated the same as the girls that work in sales or the business office. The guys accuse me of being too strong willed, of being a feminist. I have even been asked if I like girls. No I do not I tell them, and since when does feminism and liking the same sex go together you can be both you can be one or the other you can be neither. I say I am married to a guy, and this guy likes that I stick up for myself, and that I am strong willed, to which they automatically reply oh then you must wear the pants in the relationship. Gah!! No we are equal, we both work, we both clean, we both pay bills. It is just to easy to slap a label on, or put someone in a box, so that we can feel comfortable with them. BTW, love your style of writing, keep it up, love to read.ReplyCancel

  • November 13, 2012 - 2:37 am

    Joelle - You rock!!!ReplyCancel

  • November 13, 2012 - 6:50 am

    Yumi - Hi Sash, I’ve been reading your blog for a while now, and I really love it. I admire you, you are a huge inspiration for me, as a woman, as mom, as a person.
    Every time I read what you write, I learn something, I realize something that was not so clear.You write with realness, it feels true and beautiful.
    I see people putting labels in everything, I heard people defining feminism as men hate and “girls who don’t shave their legs” too many times, I heard people saying that women have nothing to fight for, that there’s no sexism or gender inequality…
    I’m 16, and I see how standing up for yourself, your rights, and for other people is important, I care about that, and each day I try to educate myself about that.
    And I want to thank you for writing such meaningful things, and I hope you know how much this is important to me. I wish the best to you and your lovely family, always, and I’ll be here reanding what you write and smiling at how lovely Bo is.ReplyCancel

    • November 13, 2012 - 7:20 am

      Sash - Yumi. Thank YOU for reading, for thinking, for being. This is why I write. You are who I write for. Come by any time, comment any time, ask questions, give opinions, be involved… I am so happy to have you here in my space. xxxReplyCancel

  • November 13, 2012 - 7:37 am

    Luna U - Sash, what a fabulous post.

    We have a mutual friend and she linked me to an article yesterday that must have either sparked thoughts, or been a result of your thoughts.

    I shared the article on my blog as it really rang true.

    Although I have always identified as a feminist, I never had such a belly full of fire for the injustices and inequality faced by women until I became a mother to my daughter, Anouk 10 months ago.

    We should ALL be feminists… no ifs or buts about it. We owe it to our mothers and fathers, our daughters, our sons and mostly, ourselves.

    Thanks for sharing a snippet of your world and your beautiful Bo.

    Luna. xReplyCancel

    • November 13, 2012 - 12:47 pm

      Sash - Thanks for the link Luna! Loved the article. Hadn’t read it before but definitely agreed wtih much of what the writer wrote. Wonderful stuff! Anouk is lucky to have you leading the way for her!ReplyCancel

      • November 15, 2012 - 1:02 pm

        Luna U - Thanks Sash, what a lovely thing to say! I think Bo is a pretty lucky little lady too!ReplyCancel

  • November 15, 2012 - 1:27 pm

    Links to Click on this Thursday Afternoon. | laluuu - […] on from this post I made on Tuesday, pop on over to Sash’s beautiful blog and read why she is proud to call herself a […]ReplyCancel

  • November 23, 2012 - 9:17 am

    Janelle - Loved this article! I immediately shared it with one of my closest friends. we have had conversations like the one you mention above and are baffled that some people don’t see what is right in front of them. feminism is needed. badly. i’m with you!ReplyCancel

    • November 24, 2012 - 9:44 am

      Sash - Glad to have you with me Janelle! Thanks!ReplyCancel

  • January 28, 2013 - 10:55 am

    Arna - I’ve come back to read this again, after the recent horrible atrocities to young women that have occurred in India. Such horror caused worldwide outrage – and then,.. the world moves on. It is the shortness of our collective memory that I struggle to accept. How is it that we have developed such an interia?ReplyCancel

  • January 28, 2013 - 10:59 pm

    anunfounddoor - Hell Yes.
    My little sister told me I was becoming “extreme” by posting about feminism on facebook because “men are good too, you know”. I was so, so sad. I mean, aside from how society is set up for playing by mens rules (as to what is valued and what isn’t – for example the differing values accorded economic work and work inside the home) but even when playing by those rules the game is heavily skewed – I mean, the gender pay gap is *real* and is *worsening*… but somehow it is “extreme” to recognize that there is *not* equality between the sexes, even now, even in our society that pays such lipservice to it.

    I have identified as a feminist for a number of years, but oddly enough have never felt it more strongly than since I became a mother (and speaking with friends it seems to be a common experience).

    – PatriciaReplyCancel

  • February 27, 2013 - 10:13 am

    bron@babyspace - YES! every. word. (well, most of them.) have you read The Women’s Room? have you read ‘How to be a Woman?’ I would love to know. xReplyCancel

Your email is never published or shared. Required fields are marked *