This month, The News With Nipples has been asking for submissions on ‘the future’ for the 55th edition of the Down Under Feminists Carnival. So I thought I’d write something on what I want to see in the future, for feminism. And life in general.
Obviously, writing a complete list of things that could be better in the world is a ridiculous task. As such, I’m going to go with some little things that I’ve noticed in and around my life recently, to make it a bit more personal.
I’d like to see freedom for women, and men, to express their sexuality, or lack thereof, in whatever way they want to. I want to see queer identities become part of the world as a whole, not a part of the world that pushed to the side and paid lip service to. I want people to realise that I express my identity just the way they express theirs, everyday. This has been a pretty big thing for me over the past few months, because I’ve been told that my identity is based on a lie, that I’m just messed up and have built a little cupboard to hide away in called ‘asexuality.’ I’ve had close friends go through shit because they came out to someone, or wanted to come out to someone but felt they couldn’t.
I’d like to see people recognise the power of words. I’ve had too many arguments lately about why throwing the word ‘slut’ around isn’t ok, even when it’s not meant as an insult to someone in particular. Why you can’t use the word ‘fag’ and say you’re reclaiming it as a straight person. Words don’t exist in a vacuum. They have real life consequences and connotations, even if you can’t see its effects from where you stand. You might use ‘slut’ as a joke towards a friend. Somewhere else, that word is being used to tell a rape victim that it was their own fault they got raped.
I’d like to see more women calling themselves feminists, and more men as well. I’d like to be able to talk to someone about women’s rights without them having to qualify that they don’t call themselves a feminist. Feminism is just as relevant now as it was in the 60s, as it was in the nineteenth century. It hasn’t been corrupted by women who don’t know how easy they have it; it hasn’t become a club for those who like to shout and rage and refuse to shave their legs. Feminism makes mistakes, feminism learns, feminism changes. Sometimes there is a lot of division, but in the end, most of us still want the very same thing.
I’d like to change the way we think about work. I’d like equality of opportunity and of treatment in the workplace. I’d like comprehensive paid parental leave, for parents (not just mothers) in all occupations and walks of life. I want the idea that mothers are less reliable workers, but superior in their woman-ness to stop. I want to see domestic work in the home, and looking after kids and family, valued as what it is – work, just like any job in a bank or a position in a university. I want to see people stop complaining about how they can’t get Centrelink money because their parents earn to much, or how easy it is for people to live on the dole and never have to work. You have no idea.
I’d like to see an end to body shaming, and prescriptive ideas of beauty and attractiveness and sexiness. I’d like to go to the beach in the bikini I bought the other day (first one I’ve bought in many years) and not feel self-conscious about the fact that my stomach isn’t perfectly flat. I’d like people to stop calling Australia’s richest mining magnate a fat, ugly bitch and call her something more appropriate that doesn’t have to do with her looks – perhaps an ignorant, privileged misanthrope? I’d like to stop people thinking that there’s something wrong with their bodies the way they are. I’d like people to realise that fat doesn’t automatically equate to unhealthiness, or laziness, or lack of discipline. I’d like my sister to recover from her eating disorder.
All these things aren’t necessarily wishes that only relate to feminism. But they’re all things that feminism tries to do. I think most of all, I want people to see that feminism isn’t the enemy, but something that can help to challenge and change a society that tries to keep us in our place with arbitrary rules about who and how we should be.
Most of all, I want people to see that society can be changed.