I’m not a feminist!

There was a lot of hoo-haa last week after Julie Bishop’s Press Club address where she declared that she wasn’t a feminist. A (predictable) chorus of feminist voices went on the attack against Bishop, venting their anger that she was a feminist, she wasn’t a feminist, she isn’t a real woman, she only got where she is because she does not have kids blah blah blah.

A similar voice has been heard recently in America with the mid-term elections, where at least two (that I know of) black Republican senators were voted into power in traditionally ‘white’ or ‘Southern’ electorates. When quizzed about how they felt about being voted in as ‘black’ senators, they both responded that their electorates did not vote them in because of their colour. They were voted in because of policy, hard work and pragmatism. I’m sure pundits could argue both ways on those claims – the interesting thing is how both these candidates focused on a Martin Luther approach, rather than the vouge affirmative action approach.

Julie Bishop, Mia Love and Tim Scott (the latter two were the abovementioned senators) all have detractors seeming to sing from the same songbook. Whilst Bishop does not sing from the Feminist songbook, or Love and Scott aren’t promoting the politics of race, their detractors argue that they are still feminist and benefiting from affirmative action, because of all the hard work that feminists and race politics have done before them.

I don’t want to detract from the inarguable fact that, and quoting Luther King, all men (and women!) are created equal. I’m not hear to argue that men or women or blacks or Asians or Arabs or Jews or Aussies or anyone can or can’t do a particular job, follow a particular role or identify how they wish. Hard work, discipline and nous is the key to success.

What I am saying is we have all benefited from the hard work the suffragettes did. Why women didn’t have the vote earlier is anyone’s guess. We are all better off from early Australian migration (and the abolition of the White Australia Policy), which saw an influx of New Australians, eager build this great nation of ours. Does it mean I identify as a feminist, because I have benefitted from early feminist victories?

If we follow this logic, as applied by these critics of Bishop, we should all be Christians. And Socialists. And Capitalists. And Constitutional Monarchists. I could go on. Why? I have benefitted from subsidised health care and education, but I’m not a socialist. We have benefited from the Westminster system, even if you loathe the British monarchy. We have benefitted from a Judeo-Christian heritage (despite many rumblings), even though many do not identify as a Christian.

We’ve all benefitted from something in our past that we really have no control over – wealthy parents, where we were born, the country we live in, a stable democracy. We have also been disadvantaged buy things out of our control – war, monetary policy, natural disasters. We don’t go around calling ourselves a GFC or a flood, even though we’ve been affected by it.

Like I said above, I’m no feminist, even though I’ve benefitted from some of the early wins feminists have fought for. Guess what women – working a full week can be pretty crapola, right? But you wanted it and you’ve got it.

So if someone does not want to identify according to your pre-set mould of them, leave them alone. No one likes being put into a box or defined by a set of rules. As Luther King so amazingly said “Let us not be defined by the colour of our skin, but by the content of our character”.

Surely that trumps any ‘ism’ any day.

Image from http://images.smh.com.au/2014/10/29/5930898/J-Bish-VD-408×264.jpg



    • Pete Vidins Blog

      I think it’s more than that, too. Rather than ‘revoke’ a particular identity card (or victim card!), I admire people that acknowledge their past AND use their own skills, smarts and nous to get ahead in life, rather then requesting a particular type of treatment based on a label or identity.

  1. Sonya Heaney

    I AM feminist, because women are not equal in this world, even today. Until we can receive equal pay, until rape rates drop, until I can walk down a street without receiving catcalls from men, I will be a feminist.
    And the term “New Australian” is racist and deeply offensive. As a child of “New Australians” I can tell you, it is still used as an insult towards my family today.

    • Pete Vidins Blog

      Thanks Sonya,

      I don’t recall the essay being abut equal pay, the terrible crime of rape or catcalls. Indeed, addressing these things isn’t a feminist issue, it’s a global one. Seeing as you’re on your feminist high-horse, let’s also talk about what feminists are doing about female beheadings in the Middle East, genital mutilation and sexual slavery. Are these just feminist issues? Of course not.

      ‘New Australian’. You’re say it’s offensive, I say it’s a badge of honour. Like your family, mine came from war-torn Latvia after the war. They were called Balts, Nazis and communists. My family now call each other ‘New Australians’ and Balts. Guess what? I call my step-dad a Cranky Croat, my mum a whinging Pom and my Greek mates Wogs and an Italian mate a Tick.

      As I was saying, you can chose to let your identity rule you, and expect to be treated because of some type of victim card, or you can choose to acknowledge your past and forge ahead.

      Out of curiosity Sonya, how would you like people to think of you? The gal who played the feminist card, or the gal who worked freaking hard to get where she is?

      Thanks for stopping by, I appreciate your ideas.


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