“There are three problems in this world…” Sekai Holland opened her speech “1. men, 2. men, and 3. men.” [1]

“Feminism” is an interesting word. In my ignorance it used to bring to mind images of men-hating women demanding to work, wear suits, and take off their bras. The idea of studying feminism or being a feminist was as foreign to me as studying astronomy and being an alien. Born in 1982 I missed the fight for women’s rights and, without giving it a moment of appreciation, I have reaped the benefits of it.

In time and with education, my understanding of the most successful movement of last century has evolved. I am now filled with gratitude to the courage of feminists: their fight for women’s respect, for women’s right to vote, and for women to have more say in the direction they want to take their lives.

One look at the political and corporate world we see the difference they have made – the scene has clearly changed since the days of Mad Men. Australia even has a female Prime Minister! That being said there’s still the long way left to go – women’s salaries are still far lower then mens, and the % of men to women in roles of governance and corporate rule are still not in a good way.

With these ideas running through my mind, I find myself wondering: am I a feminist?

Given I like men, hate suits, and appreciate a good bra, there’s a part of me that finds this a strange question to be thinking about.

Yet without a doubt when it comes to equality of wages and opportunities, protection from rape, power to choose divorce, abortion, playing sports, and bounds of research has found that the feminine approach to most matters is more peaceful than the masculine, it would seem that I am a feminist. Why then do I feel so weird about this word?

It is most likely inherited from a backlash against feminism via the media re-framing the movement after the war. Bell Hooks talks briefly about it here:


Sure I understand the argument for “traditional roles”: looking after the children, cleaning, cooking – these are important and rewarding tasks for humans. But I don’t think this need be specifically a woman’s roles. I’d be quite happy if my partner were a “stay-at-home-Dad” if it meant I could continue to research and write while he did the housework.

The big problem I have with feminism is that I don’t like polarising men. They’re not all bad 😉 And those that are, it’s not their fault. We have all been “thrown” into this “white supremacist capitalist patriarchy” world. It’s not a fixed state, but is changing as I type, and as you read. In the past violence may have the best way to solve conflict, and to maintain peace within a society.

Now, survival of those fittest (as in “best-suited”) for our changing global environment, requires intuitive, long-term, non-violent means to end cycles of violence, get rid of nuclear weapons, and develop agricultural and economic structures that suit our holistic needs as a species. The yin, the feminine, needs to weave it’s way back into the spheres of society that have been too long dominated by yang, the masculine.

So, in answer to my question: am I a feminist? If I’m honest with myself, ignoring the stereotype and the fact that I might be categorised as a humanist, a panentheist, and many other “-ists” as well, I suppose I have to say yes – I am a feminist— I like living in a world where women are treated (almost) equally to men, and the more equal women and men are treated throughout the world, the better a world it will be.

[1] My colleagues were in Zimbabwe announcing Senator Sekai Holland as the recipient-to-be of the 2012 Sydney Peace Prize.