I’ve been wanting to write about feminism for a really long time and as I began to write I realised how much I have to say. From this I have decided to write a series on the importance of feminism so that I do not brush over anything. Talking about feminism cannot be summed up in a 600 word blog post so I ask that you allow me the opportunity to express my views on this important topic in our society through a chain of posts.
A friend recently made me aware that I grew up in a feminist, progressive bubble, and genuinely, until she said it, I had never realised this fact. I was primarily raised by incredible women; my superwoman mother, my kind and caring older sister and many other inspiring women. I attended an all-girls school in Hobart, and was constantly surrounded by women that truly made me feel like an empowered and unstoppable woman. Firstly, I want to thank every single feminist in my life, both women and men, for believing in and fighting for something that is imperative to the progression of society, and secondly, to those of you who are starting their feminist journey, welcome, and thank you for opening your mind.
I still remember the first time I truly felt silenced as a female. I was in a tutorial at uni and my understanding of Tolstoy, was laughed at. Now before you start screaming ‘MAYBE YOU WERE WRONG,’ I was taking quotes directly from his work and simply stating my take, so even if I were wrong, a respect for every student’s opinion seems, to me, to be a baseline rule in any tutorial. This fellow student disregarded my view completely, and although he was not necessarily doing so due to my gender, he remained strictly on his side of the table with the boys, with myself on mine with the girls. He then made a point to disregard the other females’ opinions in our group. I don’t believe that this student had the intention of being sexist at all, he is simply a product of an environment where women and men are not equal. This however, does not disregard my feelings of marginalisation or the feelings of the other female members in the group. At the end of the day, discrimination doesn’t necessarily have to be about whether or not the person doing the discriminating meant to do so but rather about whether or not any discrimination was felt by the marginalised. The analogy I choose to use is that, as children, when we’re playfully fighting with our siblings and we hurt one another, the intention is rarely to cause your sibling pain, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that they aren’t hurt. Just because someone doesn’t intend to be sexist, doesn’t disallow another from feeling marginalised.
This is the main point I want to reiterate in the first part of this feminism series; unintentional sexism is still sexism, no matter the circumstance. It doesn’t matter if it was intended as a joke, it doesn’t matter if it was said in passing and it doesn’t matter if the person saying it is, ‘a really great person,’ at the end of the day we all have a right to our feelings and that is not up for discussion.