Do you remember when we had our first female Prime minister? Perhaps you remember what she wore and the way her hips looked in her outfit?
When we all celebrated international women’s day and reflected on how far we have come, it somehow became about a traffic light that depicted a man…or a woman in pants? This is what our message to our daughters has become. People want to do something different with a traffic light? Go for it, but media and society love to cause a stir and make what should be a celebration of inspirational women into a day of incessant whining and controversy. Sorry, but look at White Ribbon Day. A day which recognises domestic violence against women and encourages us all to come together to say “No”. How is that controversial? Somehow it always is because men get hurt too. Of course they do. But give these women this day. Stand up for them without argument, for at least one day.
When contemplating this topic I looked at my children and thought, in this day and age – what can my son do that my daughter cannot? Well. Nothing. But, my son does not have an expiry date and my daughter does. Equal pay is just the beginning, and it really doesn’t summarise the way women as a whole are viewed in society. I don’t classify myself as a feminist and to be honest, I don’t care what is on a traffic signal. Just tell me when to cross the damn road.
Why are we not celebrating Malala, a woman who is contributing and fighting for the right to education, or is she just another Muslim not worth our conversation. This is not a religious or race issue, this is about what we value and why.
Models are beautiful and unattainably so, and those of us who have surpassed the 25 year old mark look at clothes and cosmetics on 16 year olds. We as a culture idealise their beauty and once we wrinkle or sag we are no longer valued. We are constantly bombarded by imagery to sell youth, but youth has a time limit. I don’t want my daughter to be valued by her looks, her smooth skin or her long luscious hair. I want her to be valued for her contribution to society. Her brains, strength, intelligence and the hilarious sense of humour she gained from her mother.
Sit and watch an hour of television. Think about your perception. What do you note about the female presenter who is NOT fresh out of university? Maybe she’s looking a little old, a little tired or a little plump. The male presenter? Well, he’s very well spoken and he knows his stuff. Can my daughter play football, work as a mechanic or run this big old country? Yes she can. But can she do this without being assessed on her sexuality, looks and clothing choices? The closest men ever got to this inequality is those memes of Tony Abbott in his speedos. And he brought that on himself.
Why do we feel this way? This is inequality and it’s all in our minds. It’s not real. We have it good in Australia. Very good. Young women are facing forced marriage and female genital mutilation while we are sitting back laughing at YouTube videos of people we don’t remember the names of. “How bout dat?” You tell me.
This week we hear of Kate Ellis, an Adelaide woman and member for Labor. She’s also a mother who has chosen her child over Canberra. Yes, women want equal pay and equal opportunity – but many (not all, and that’s cool too) of us want to have children. And we shouldn’t feel ashamed because we make this choice. Working is hard. But so is being a parent. It’s not a debate, it’s called doing what’s best for yourself and your own situation.
Burn the bra? No, let’s not. I appreciate the support and I don’t care who invented it. Although rumour has it that it was a woman.
We aren’t there yet but we are pretty lucky in this country. How about next year we have more celebration and less whining. And, for the record there is such a thing as International Men’s Day, it’s November 19th 2017.
Tell me about a female who inspired you?