Feminist Christmas Wishlist!

23 / 12 / 2013

To end the year, one of our regular contributors Clementine Ford provides this ‘Feminist Christmas Wishlist’ for Sheilas readers. We thank Clementine for her thought provoking articles throughout the year, and hope the Feminist Santa reads Sheilas!

By Clementine Ford

As 2013 draws to a close, it means it’s been approximately three years since women achieved full equality in this country (what with having a woman for our Prime Minister). But actually, we achieved equality before that even, because of all that stuff that happened back in the seventies with those man-haters. And if you want to be really picky, we were pretty much set around 50 or 60 years before that when women were finally ‘given’ the vote after whinging about it for so long. Who knew that in a world that could still feel so unequal, we’ve literally achieved all our goals at least three times now?


Naturally, I jest. I refer to the ongoing backlash against feminism that walks side by side with that particular struggle. As long as women agitate for their rights, there will be people berating them for ‘going too far’ because ‘you’re already equal, see?’ The idea that equality has been shored up because of questionably (and unevenly) applied legislation is ridiculous; but then, so is the idea that misandry is actually ‘a thing’.


And so despite the relative successes of the past 12 months, 2014 will continue where 2013 left off. Mainly because that’s how linear time works, but also because there’s still so much more to do. In no particular order, here are my feminist wishes for Christmas 2013 and beyond.


1. A ‘No Men’s Rights Associations’ (MRAs) clause on Twitter accounts


Twitter is the 21st century’s version of the Colosseum. From the comfort of our own butt-moulded armchairs, we can sit and watch lions tear civilians apart, laughing as their limbs fly akimbo in front of a jeering crowd. The unfortunate thing about this Colosseum is that there’s no crowd control or dress code, so anyone can sidle in and start shooting their mouth off about the most logically incoherent of ideas.


If only some bright spark could invent an algorithm that would spontaneously destroy the account of anyone who typed in a combination of the following words or phrases:


‘feminasty’; ‘feminazi’; ‘misandrist’; ‘#clementinefordissexist’; ‘women are violent too’; ‘why doesn’t White Ribbon Day focus on men?’; ‘feminists won’t stop until they are superior to men’; ‘the media is run by feminists’; and ‘single fathers’.


Add to all that a technological sentience that could detect a lack of irony, and you’d have the perfect combination for freezing out people who really shouldn’t be trusted with a computer and/or social interaction in general. No more MRAs on Twitter, filling up space with their ludicrous conspiracy theories and stalkerish obsessions!


2. That people will realise ‘Afghanistan’ is not a solid rebuttal to western feminist arguments


Morons – progressive and conservative alike – are always looking for ways to discount the voracity of the western feminist movement. It’s usually done by combining withering derision for the frivolity of these concerns versus ‘real struggles’, like Marxism and whether or not women in Afghanistan even have Twitter to flash their tits on. The argument goes thus: ‘Protesting the magazine industry is a waste of time because you’re all capitalist bitches who should stop buying lipstick and besides, girls in Afghanistan are being shot just for trying to go to school.’


In this case, ‘Afghanistan’ stands in for any country in which women are Arab or even African. Its accuracy isn’t important, because its conceit is to diminish feminist activism not empower it. And the fatal flaw in this markedly stupid protestation is that, even beyond its paternalistic racism, it’s grossly ignorant of actual feminist movements in the Middle Eastern and African regions. Rwanda’s parliament is made up of two-thirds women. Afghanistan may be much more oppressive to its women than most other countries you can call to mind, but there are activists pushing back from within its borders. And while feminists the world over should absolutely support each other in our goals and struggles, it’s not the role of western feminists to ‘do’ liberation for women who are perfectly capable of leading their own revolutions. So basically, it’s my wish that in 2014, idiots will learn how to read before they shoot their mouths off about how much they care about all the women ‘over there’ while doing precisely nothing to view them as equal human beings themselves.


3. Abortions for all!


Not really. I mean, I don’t literally want every woman to be given an abortion. But the conservative fight against reproductive rights in this country is beginning to look frighteningly like the US. Underhanded tactics are being employed that aim to chip away at the roots of these rights in order to collapse them, rather than challenging them head on. These are scary times we’re living in, and we need to push back with all our might.


That means fighting back against attempts to introduce fetal personhood laws (as has been attempted in NSW, SA and soon will be in WA). It means protesting outside Parliament and letting our lawmakers know that we are never going back to the days when women died painfully from botched, illegal abortions. It means recognising that the philosophical, emotive arguments used by anti-choicers (‘you could have had a beautiful baby now! think of all the lost children!) are essentially bullshit because they ignore the reality of cause and effect, and how each and every decision we make leads to a different outcome. Simply put, that children born after their mothers have made the choice to have abortions exist because of that choice, not in spite of it. Women and their male allies have fought long and hard for the right to control their own bodies in this country (a right that is still not enshrined all around the country) – our opponents cannot and must not be allowed to eradicate all that simply because it is politically expedient to humour the regressive ‘morality’ of those who cling to oppressive organised religion as a blueprint for living.


No, we are not equal yet. Not by a long shot. But we’re getting there. And my final wish for 2014?


4. That in the face of the hate, the opposition, the sneering, the cruelty, the laughter and the ridicule, we don’t give up.


Because we’re winning. It’s slow and it’s arduous, but we keep moving forward, just as we always have and just as we always will.