Dear Jackie O and Every Other Woman Who Doesn’t Consider Herself A Feminist,

Really? I mean REALLY? I was so confused when I read the following quote from you yesterday:

jackie o blog 380x529 A letter to Jackie O and all the other non feminists.

Jackie O

Do you consider yourself a feminist?

“No,” she says, with a shy smile.

“Why?” I cry in disappointed tones.

“You’re a woman.”

“I know,” she says, laughing. “I know. I do feel like I have achieved so much, in radio especially. But I’ve never considered myself a feminist. I’m just, you know, I’m doing what I love. I’m really proud of how far I’ve come. But … you know.”

Here’s Mia and Lisa Wilkinson talking to Karl Stefanovic about Jackie O’s feminist quote on The Today Show:

The thing is Jackie -I’ve known you a long time and I like you a lot. You are a force in radio, a role model for many women and your success is no accident. You’ve worked hard and you’re talented.

In many ways, the power you have in your field has paved the way for many other women like you to be given a chance in a hugely competitive industry that’s mostly dominated by men.

So I’m confused by your insistence that you’re not a feminist.

What do you think feminism is? Or rather, why are you so keen to distance yourself from it?

As self-described “strident feminist” and my hero Caitlin Moran says in her book How to be a Woman:

caitlin moran2 A letter to Jackie O and all the other non feminists.

Caitlin Moran

“We need to reclaim the word ‘feminism’. We need the word ‘feminism’ back real bad.

When statistics come in saying that only 29% of American women would describe themselves as feminist – and only 42% of British women – I used to think, What do you think feminism IS, ladies? What part of ‘liberation for women’ is not for you? Is it freedom to vote? The right not to be owned by the man you marry? The campaign for equal pay? ‘Vogue’ by Madonna? Jeans? Did all that good shit GET ON YOUR NERVES? Or were you just DRUNK AT THE TIME OF THE SURVEY?”

There seem to be a lot of women who are confused about the meaning of feminism. Lady Gaga in 2009 said: “I’m not a feminist. I hail men. I love men.”

HUH? Who said anything about NOT loving men? Where does that even come from? Since when did feminism have anything to do with rejecting men or femininity?

Equally frustrating is the “I’m not a feminist, but…” brigade.

From HelloGiggles.com:

“These days, well-intentioned suggestions of equality often follow in the footsteps of the phrase “I’m not a feminist, but…”, as if feminism is a disease we want to ensure everyone we don’t have before proceeding. As if feminism and being a feminist is something to be embarrassed about.”

“Most of us like being women but the strife between wanting to embrace both femininity and feminism seems difficult at times. Questions like “I like wearing make-up, so am I really a feminist?”, “I’m really into fashion, so am I really a feminist?”, “I like to cook for my husband, so am I really a feminist?” or “I want to stay home with my children instead of work, so am I really a feminist?” pop up, and the answer is always yes.

Feminism is anything but the rejection of femininity. It is about embracing that femininity and demanding that the world embrace it the way they have embraced masculinity for most of our history. It is about ensuring that women always have both a choice and a voice. It is about not being devalued because we happen to be women.”

Yep, and spare me the ‘humanist’ label because it’s naive and misses the point. In a recent interview about her role in the movie I Don’t Know How She Does It, a movie that would have been impossible without feminism, Sarah Jessica Parker was at pains to point out: ”I took a page from [the playwright] Wendy Wasserstein’s book. She said, ‘I’m not a feminist, I’m a humanist.”’

That would be ace if humans all had the same rights but we don’t. Women are STILL not paid the same amount as men for doing the same job. And any half-decent bloke would be as appalled by that as women should be.

From the Herald Sun:

Australian Bureau of Statistics studies of Australia’s almost nine million employees have found only 151,000 were women earning $2000 a week or more, compared with 570,400 men.

The ABS reports looked at employee earnings and also analysed information by gender. In every wage category, on average, women earn less than men from the time they start work through to retirement.

Keelia Fitzpatrick, Youth Officer with the Victorian Trades Hall Council, said for young women who finished university, the gender pay gap was present from day one of their careers. “Figures show that across industries female graduates will earn on average $2000 less per year than their male counterparts,” Ms Fitzpatrick said. “This debunks the myth that the gender pay gap can be explained by family commitments.”

 

Girlfriends, come on. Feminism is simply about believing women should have equality and the right to make decisions about our own lives. Whether to work, who to marry, what jobs to do, whether to have children, when to have them, how many, who to vote for, what to wear…….the list goes on.

You want to give those choices back? You want men to make the decisions about your lives? About your body?  Well, sure. Then perhaps you’re not a feminist.

But I don’t know ANY woman who believes she’s not worthy of the same rights as men, that she should earn the same money for doing the same job.

You want to know what it’s not like to have those rights? Maybe talk to a woman who lives in Saudi Arabia who is not legally allowed to drive a car let alone have a job or vote.

So are you a feminist?

Caitlin Moran suggests taking this simple test:

”Put your hands in your pants. (a) Do you have a vagina? And (b) Do you want to be in charge of it? If you said yes to both, then congratulations, you’re a (c) feminist.”

I’m a feminist. I’m the daughter of a feminist and the mother of one and I’m proud.

Jackie, you should be proud too. Proud of your success, proud of your family, grateful for the choices you have.

Because feminism played a crucial part in all of it.

Here’s a gallery of women who inspire us.

Mother Teresa - Founded the Missionaries of Charity in Calcutta and helped the poor and sick for 45 years.



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