What is feminism? Am I a feminist? Does anyone have the right to tell me what I am? Why is a feminist blogger hating on me? Where the hell are all the true feminists? I'm going to find me one! I'm going to find me a true pure feminist and I'm going to name her.
I was on Twitter the other day and, as I've often mentioned, I ignore haters and trolls and the nasty ones. But, for some reason, I saw a tweet from someone who called me an idiot or a moron or both and although I should have ignored it, I was curious to see who might think so. Naturally, there will be a lot of people who think so, that's simply what happens to everyone with an opinion, whether their opinion is valid or in fact moronic.
The woman who had tweeted about how much she loathed me and thought I was an idiot called herself first up a "feminist".
I cocked my head to the side and frowned (as much as the Botox would allow). I don't equate the beating down of other women with feminism. Maybe what I consider feminism is a little different. I understand that feminism in it's simplest terms is described as:
1. Belief in or advocacy of women's social, political and economic rights, especially with regard to equality of the sexes.
2. The movement organised around this belief.
That's just a simple explanation, but the feminists I know are also advocates of other women, and their voices and choices. I like what Maya Angelou said on the subject of feminism: "I am a feminist. I've been female for a long time now. I'd be stupid not to be on my own side."
She also said the following - and maybe this is what I'm getting at: "Each time a woman stands up for herself without knowing it, possibly without claiming it, she stands up for all women."
A couple of years ago I read a piece in the newspaper written by a well-known feminist writer. It was about Rachel Hunter. It seemed like a self-deprecating piece, as the woman talked about herself getting older and more lined, while Rachel remained beautiful and flawless, but underneath it all was a river of spite, malice and mean-heartedness. While she was saying she was celebrating her own ageing "correctly", she was judging Rachel for "maybe" taking steps to slow down the ageing process.
Didn't feminism give us choices? Didn't it give us equality in all sorts of areas, one being choosing how we want to present ourselves, and paying for the privilege with our hard-earned money? Money made by the woman to do with what she pleased?
I don't know that real feminists go out of their way to belittle other women. It seems like it's everything feminism shouldn't be about ... and therefore I need to address my own behaviours.
A few weeks ago I was affronted because a woman turned up at Jonah Lomu's funeral in gold shorts. My "Aunty Etiquette" personna was offended, and I felt I had a right to express that, but was that what a good feminist would do?
Shouldn't I be accepting of all the decisions women make about how they dress, what they choose as a career, and who they choose to sleep with?
I was wrong. I'm sorry. What a woman chooses to wear is none of my business. I made a mistake and I apologise, because if I want to call myself a feminist, and claim to support other women, then I should STFU about what they wear to a funeral.
Really, in New Zealand, it isn't hard to be a feminist. It makes sense if you are a woman, to want good and equal things for other women. It's not hard to see sexism and make a stand. It isn't hard to put someone in their place when they put down other women under the guise of being "helpful" or "funny" or more "academic".
If you are a feminist then you like women. You support women. You go out of your way to champion women. You don't make judgements about their clothes or their careers or their sexual partners. You don't write articles belittling beautiful or clever, successful women. You applaud them for their success.
In all my exploring the subject of feminism in writing this column, I think I've found my favourite woman in the world. Her name is Sandra Moran and this is what she said of herself: "In Guatemala, to be a feminist is not welcomed, to be a lesbian, even less so. But the fact that I have always been transparent about who I am - a lesbian feminist - took away that weapon from those who use misogynist, sexist, and homophobic attacks as a political strategy."
Amid an incredible tidal wave of "people power" which helped bring down a corrupt government in last year's Guatemalan Spring, the LGBT community had its own political triumph.
Sandra Moran, was elected to Congress as its first openly gay member in last September's general election.
She took office in January promising to drive forward reform to outlaw hate crimes and discrimination against the LGBT community, and sponsor a ground-breaking identity law that protects sexual diversity.
Sandra Moran is a feminist, Maya Angelou was a feminist, I want to be a better feminist. I don't want to be accused of putting another woman down again because of any of their choices or how they look or what they choose to wear.
Real feminists are making changes. Real feminists are overthrowing tyranny. Real feminists are causing change through action, not sitting on Twitter bitching or passing judgment on other women.
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