The Feminist Debate: Is Feminism Still Relevant?

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A study released this year by the Workplace Gender Equality Agency found that the pay gap between male and female university graduates is increasing. It’s been over 100 years since the suffragette movement gave Australian women the right to vote, so does this mean feminism is outdated in 2013? Or is it something that still needs to exist to ensure that women’s rights issues like the pay gap are addressed?

“‘Feminism’ needs to stop placing labels and calling names in order to stay relevant because… they’re just as backwards and discriminatory against women.”

WORDS Aris Katsikis

Feminism is outdated. Today women are in positions the suffragette movement would have been more than proud of but of course there’s still a fuss. Anyone who speaks out against women is seen as a backward thinking bigot and cast out by general society, rightfully so. The problems lie elsewhere. Feminism and women’s rights are a short sighted, narrow-minded bubble placed on women and unfortunately carries the negative connotations of favouritism.

I draw my examples from media in the past month, specifically U.S. Senator Wendy Davis’ marathon filibuster and Microsoft’s game demonstration of ‘Killer Instinct’ at E3. With the world (and posture pack) behind her, Senator Wendy Davis defended the human right of choice against a law that would ban abortion after 20 weeks without exception to abusive circumstances. It was a heroic move stepping away from conservative fundamentalists and closer to the objective of a secular state, but of course not everyone saw this as a black and white example of humankind moving forward. Names and frames were thrown in claiming their champion of justice while pointing a strong finger at the gendered villains.

At the E3 expo, Microsoft showed off their game ‘Killer Instinct’ with what might as well have been a girl getting punched in the face. The leading developer called upon the national marketing manager to help show off the gameplay and mayhem ensued. With the pair told to partake in friendly unscripted game banter, Ms Ashton complained about how she was losing and Torrence sprouted lines compared to rape scenarios such as ‘let it happen, it’ll all be over soon” and “there’s no use fighting back”. Immediately there was uproar that Microsoft supports and advertises that women are bad at games and ‘femgamers’ everywhere were having their faces rubbed in the dirt. Although I still believe that it was poor word choice, no one would have looked twice at the whole thing if they were both men, or both women.

Ultimately there is a collection of backwards ideals, which have an end product of discrimination against women. ‘Feminism’ needs to stop placing labels and calling names in order to stay relevant because in many people’s eyes, they’re just as backwards and discriminatory against women.

 

“Feminism is very much needed. Not just for women’s rights issues, but for the greater benefit of all.”

WORDS Josephine Clark-Wroe

Yes we can vote, we can be Prime Minister and we can compete as a boxer in the Olympic Games, however, I believe that Feminism is needed now more than ever before.

As I write this, I can just envision you, the everyday citizen, shaking your head at the mere mention of the F word. But before you dismiss it completely, I would ask you to read on as I explain why feminism still desperately needs to exist (not just for women, but for everyone).

Few people would argue that society should take away women’s rights or prevent women from being educated, yet there are many battles yet to be won and the pay gap is one of them. Our mothers and grandmothers made such huge achievements for women in the past, but it seems that we remain blind to the many modern day iniquities that we face.

Today women are still systematically excluded from powerful and influential positions and when finally in those positions it becomes socially acceptable to criticise their body, lifestyle, and wardrobe choices. I would like to point out Julia Gillard as a worthy example here, who remained forever composed even in the face of a snickering and intolerant society.

Outside of the economic bracket, our society is still plagued by the mistreatment of women, domestic violence, harassment, sexual assault and rape. A 2005 Australia-wide survey showed that one in six adult females had experienced sexual assault since the age of 15 and women in the 18-24 age brackets were more likely to be assaulted than any other age group.

These are just few reasons why Feminism is still extremely relevant in today’s society and it breaks my heart when I hear people complaining about Feminism. In every movement there are radicals and I know sometimes that can put people off, but the true feminist movement is about standing up for what’s right.

What feminists are against is the oppressive social structure which forces both genders into positions that are false and antagonistic. What feminists are for is better working conditions, safety in our streets AND our homes, reforms in the law and equality for everyone.

So yes, feminism is very much needed. Not just for women’s rights issues, but for the greater benefit of all.