New podcast episode from ON FOR YOUNG & OLD (Is it time to change the tone of feminism?)

In this episode Erin and I discuss her article that shares her wishes that she be allowed to say “I’m a woman, and I have NOT had a bad time.” *see her article below and I hope you enjoy this episode. subscribe to our soundcloud if you want to hear more

CHANGING THE TONE OF FEMINISM by Erin Wallis
I don’t feel like I’m disadvantaged in society, and I’m sick of reading that I’m supposed to feel that way.

A friend sent me an article last night, and both the article and her sending it really pissed me off. It is amongst a slate of articles to be read about women being objectified, unequal, having to ‘overcome this’ or ‘put up with that’.

Don’t get me wrong, there’s an awareness job to do here – you can’t create change, without awareness of a behaviour first – but I cannot help but feel down-trodden and angry when I read articles about how tough going it is being a woman.

A study in done in the States a couple of years ago showed that white boys’ self-esteem increased with TV consumption, because of the way they are represented on-screen (heroes, main characters, successful). In contrast, girls and black children’s self-esteem decreased as they are often represented as marginalised in some way.

You can probably see the parallel I’d like to draw between this study and the way women are being written about. It’s important for females to be exposed to female role models. Thus, we need to be thrusting inspiring representations of women into media, rather than continue to perpetuate a negative image. How are we ever going to feel inspired, if the only way we read about ourselves is as marginalised?

To exemplify through my own circumstances, for which I whole-heartedly acknowledge is why I don’t feel disadvantaged by society, and for which I’m truly grateful – I have grown up surrounded by positive female role models:

My mother grew up in a time when she was not expected to be educated past year 10. Luckily for me, that meant she proactively pursued an education when she was older and I was around. So I grew up valuing that education allows you to develop a sense of empowerment, independence and identity.

I have also pursued a career in an industry that has a particularly high proportion of women, and again, I am personally lucky to have worked with a gamut of inspiring women who have engrained a belief that I will achieve corporate success, and it isn’t at the sacrifice of my sense of compassion.

Beyond this, I’m so proud of my group of (female) friends for all their individual achievements and sense of self. Whatever they’ve defined as their path of personal success, it has been inspiring to watch them attain it.

None of these women have inspired me because they’ve told me about the hardships they’ve beared, they’ve inspired me just by being and doing. As is the case with any role model, they have simply led by example… and they just happen to be women.

My point is, that for those women who aren’t as lucky as me, we need to perpetuate an image that is inspiring. We need to tell as many stories about as many representations of successful women as possible.

We need to move past writing about what needs to change and start being the change.

To provide a topical example, I’m sure you’re familiar with the recent outrage over the lack of a Rey piece in the Star Wars edition of monopoly, following this mother posting her daughter’s letter to Hasbro online. While it’s easy to lay responsibility on Hasbro to have created the character piece in the first place – and in fairness, they have responded to this onus – there is a more constructive story to tell:

Why not just create a Rey character piece with your daughter yourself, share instructions on how you did so, and use that story to insight change?

The undertone of the story changes from “another example of how women are being marginalised” to “let’s inspire the change that needs to happen”.

And so, I implore you to write and tell as many positive stories about as many sorts of women as possible. I implore you to share positive stories about women with other women instead of negative ones. I implore to you to BE the change, instead of talking about it needing to happen.

HOW MANY TIMES ARE WE GOING TO ASK 'CAN WOMEN HAVE IT ALL'?

Can women really have it all? How many times are females going to pose this to each other? And what does this question really mean anyway?

I get it’s essentially asking if we can have the career, the family and the partner? But beyond that, I’m at a loss.

What is it that these female editors and social commentators are really wanting to hear? ‘No, it’s not possible, I’m trying it but I admit I’ve bitten off more than I can chew?’

Or is it ‘Yes you absolutely can’, and therefore that’ll just instantaneously make it all rosy for the rest of the women out there trying to juggle the lot without stress or any guilt?

The fact is, there are a lot of women out there giving it their best by trying to satisfy the career part of them, the maternal part of them, and the romantic partner part of them. Are all parts working at all times? Probably not.

There are those that will say from the outside looking in that although these women have chosen to tackle having it all, a child may appear happy but could be a lot happier by having mum around more of the time. And that’s no doubt true too.

Most of my working mother friends will admit to having mother’s guilt about being away from the kids at certain times, and taking the financial reason for working out of the equation, they also admit that they need that stimulation and sense of self worth by continuing to work as well.

How many relationships simply aren’t the same once the kids come around, when you’re also trying to getting back into the work force after a certain period of time? What was just about the two of you and your respective careers is simply never going to be quite the same.

Whether or not you and your partner make it through the transition of just us, to the kids phase will depend on a lot of things, including your pre-existing emotional needs, and the level of care you place on protecting some part of the previous part of the two of you.

But for heavens sakes, the essence of what this question is about seems to me to be just so pointless.

At the end of the day, we’re all going to try and do what we feel we want to do in our hearts? We’re going to get down the track and arrive there with our partners or arrive on our own?

The children are going to grow up and either throw their upbringing in their parents faces claiming damage because mummy wasn’t always around. Or they’re going to grow up believing that mothers go to work and that’s just the way it is. No damage done. Who knows what you’ll get in the end?

But the thing is, I can’t help but suspect as can be a trait of some women, that although they appear to be supportive of each other by entering the debate, what they’re actually doing is judging them on how well they think the other is handling their lot.

I hate to say it but a lot of women can be by nature competitive and jealous of each other, which is usually because they are insecure about something to do with themselves.

It’s not constructive to keep going round and round in circles debating whether women can really have it all. Women are never going adopt the limiting lifestyle choices of decades ago. For some women they will decide to stay at home and direct their energies into their partners and raising the children.

Others are going divvy up their time and energy to fit in a career. Some parts of herself will suffer at times no matter whether she chooses option A or option B.

Can women really have it all is totally subjective. I look forward to when this little question finally goes out of fashion.

WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS ON THIS QUESTION? WHAT IS HAVING IT ALL TO YOU? IS IT WORTH STILL COMPARING OURSELVES?