29 July 2014


Because I honestly don't know.

Could it be I’m not a feminist? I’m never really sure.
I don’t think it means the thing I used to think it meant before.
And despite the helpful anecdotes and practical suggestions
From enthusiastic people on the web, I have some questions:

Can I shave my legs and armpits? Can I shop for sexy bras?
Can I ask for help with moving house and stubborn lids on jars?
Can I sneak a sidelong glance at well-formed bottoms at the gym?
Can I praise a man’s physique without objectifying him?

If I take my husband’s surname, have I finished being me?
If I earn more than my partner, is that inequality?
If I pole-dance in a bar, am I exploited or empowered?
If I don’t walk home at night-time, am I smart or just a coward?

Is it ok if I giggle when a sexist joke is funny?
Is it ok if I answer when a male friend calls me “honey”?
Is it ok to say “suffragist” instead of “suffragette”?
Is it ok if I don’t assume that every man’s a threat?

Should I ask the girl who risks her life by learning maths and reading?
Or the woman left to perish slowly, faceless, cut and bleeding?
Should I ask how FGM or acid-throwing victims feel
About whether it’s insulting when a man pays for a meal?


  1. I like to defer to Caitlin Moran on the issue:
    'So here is the quick way of working out if you're a feminist. Put your hand 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 feminist.”

    And also, “You can tell whether some misogynistic societal pressure is being exerted on women by calmly enquiring, ‘And are the men doing this, as well?’ If they aren’t, chances are you’re dealing with what we strident feminists refer to as ‘some total fucking bullshit’.”

    Nice pome Shelley.

  2. As a white, middle-aged guy, it's probably no surprise that I don't get feminism.

    Recently I've been spending time at Mia Freedman's Mamamia blog, possibly Australia's leading feminist news site. But as a result, I'm even more confused.

    Recently there was the story about girls performing sex acts in a bar for a $3 bottle of wine. This, apparently, is not a good thing for feminism. But it was followed soon-after by a video of a young woman coming out of anaesthetic and expressing the desire to perform the same act on a named celebrity. Not only were we informed this victim-video was hilarious, it was also claimed all women think the very same thing. This, I assume is okay for feminism.

    There are regular stories about how there's more to women than their outside appearance, and other stories about celebrities with genetically-blessed bodies and even amazement at an actress' change of hair colour, from brunette to blonde.

    This week we had the story of a supposed "first date", which involved meeting a guy online and going to his place and getting bonked despite a complete lack of desire to even be there. This story was high-fived all round by the Mamamia readers. After all, she "got herself some", as one commentator put it.

    They promote working women as benefiting the economy - and families and women and the universe in general - and therefore deserving of what is really just "welfare for the rich", but claim this support is not intended to dismiss the value of stay-at-home mums who, it turns out, are stuck in the 1950s and get far too much welfare anyway. It's like the anti-vaxxer who claims to they support choice, shortly before listing all the evils of the "wrong" choice.

    Yesterday, it was the text prank in which some woman (supposedly) texts a random guy and claims to be carrying his baby, with results so hilarious, Mamamia declared it "The greatest prank of all time". But when I checked back today, that claim has been erased (without notation) and now it says they're "never a fan of pranks" (but search "prank" on Mamamia to test the veracity of that claim).

    So I guess even the leading feminists are confused about feminism too.

    And, yes, nice poem. But that's nothing new.

    (...Are you still talking to me? One thing I have learned, is that it's often dangerous for a guy to even discuss feminism without being completely supportive of the fundamentalist ideal).