An afternoon of feminism was not to be missed. ‘All About Women’ took place at the Sydney Opera House, and was live-streamed to various venues throughout Australia. I was surpised that the Christchurch Art Gallery auditorium was only half full for this event. It was good to hear several women acknowledge the first peoples of Australia, especially Tracey Spicer, who said that the land under the Opera House was and always will be aboriginal land.
The first speaker was actor Geena Davis, who spoke about ‘Women in Media’. Geena played Thelma in ‘Thelma and Louise’, and said one response to that film was ‘now the women have guns the world is ruined’!. She pointed out that she has enough money to be able to choose her roles, and she chooses ones that women will feel empowered by. With humour, passion, and statistics, Geena illustrated that in family movies men have 2.5 to 3 times as many speaking roles as women. We are teaching children from a young age that women are less important and less valuable than men. While equality in the real world may be a long way off instant parity is possible onscreen. For example, the prevalence of women forensic scientists in shows such as ‘Bones’ and ‘CSI’ means that numbers of women studying forensic science have skyrocketed. It is vital that we all do all we can to encourage, vote for, and hire women.
The second session was questions and answers with Jessa Crispin, author of “Why I Am Not a Feminist”. It seems that feminism is the only word we currently have for a person who believes all people are equal, but Jessa believes it has become too universal. She liked it better when feminism was a dirty word, because if feminism is a danger we’re more likely to get change. Young people are less inclined to recognise inequality, and slacktavism and compromise have crept in. Lower class women have been removed from the agenda of feminism which is focussed on the middle class. Self-empowerment encourages individualism, and we need to look beyond this.
The third session was a panel of ‘Nasty Women’. The name stems from Trump’s statement that Hillary is a ‘nasty woman’, but super female powers have turned that negative name into a positive. The three panellists and chairwoman had many gems of wisdom.
Van Badham said the way to change society is to join a trade union or community organisation. We thought we’d won and we’ve stopped fighting because of a false sense of security. If we’re not active in democracy we get Donald Trump. There is power in solidarity – stand by others. It’s important to ‘die on the right side’. Take strength from the women who came before and those who will come afterwards – find strength in the feminist tradition. Fighting against injustice gives your own life meaning.
Lindy West said solidarity is vital, the foundation of equality, activism, and freedom. No need to start new organisations – join those that have been working for equality for years.
Yassmin Abdel-Magied talked of the need to constantly push uphill. Having conversations in your circles will have an effect on the people around you and it will grow. Her input was moving and passionate. She urged us to decide what our own values are and live by those values.
If you’d like to hear more of All About Women, it’s available here.
“So good to hear these women talk
they’re ones who really walk the walk.”