Sister talk

The list of culturally titanic young women who identified as feminists exponentially increases: Lorde, Beyoncé, Malala Yousafzai, Emma Watson, Taylor Swift etcetera etcetera. And my sister has been asking.

The list of culturally titanic young women who identify as feminists exponentially increases: Lorde, Beyoncé, Malala Yousafzai, Emma Watson, Taylor Swift etcetera etcetera. And my sister has been asking.

My sister is 17 and has officially entered uni in the shining summer of 2015. She has taken to asking me calculus questions, whether she can borrow my things after she has already taken them, and feminism.

She asks if people who hate men are really feminists. She asks if all people who believe in gender equality are feminists, when they specifically state otherwise. Well, I say … good question. I think this is a question of identity rather than labels.

I know that you are too smart to have asked these questions innocently – if you are asking about those who accept gender equality and not feminism, you know that the word feminist is irritating for a significant number of people. Or at least connotative of technical and severe rulebooks.

The terrible truth is that feminism is a belief in gender equality. Most of us will agree that, retrospectively, anger in the face of gender injustice made sense. But we’re generationally asked to see that anything more would be unreasonable. A lot of the tension that exists comes from trying to agree on what gender bias is, and what is harmful behaviour.

So to your question – is identifying as a feminist the same as being one? I think the most important thing you can do is respect how people identify. While labels may seem inherently limiting, they play an important role in many people’s lives. Knowing how you yourself identify culturally, ethnically and in your sexuality, gender and class speaks the idea of becoming a socially conscientious person.

I could go on sister, for I am adult, and very vague and wise. But however you identify, there are an increasing number of people and spaces out there for you to ask questions. Here are some local uni events I saw in the past year that focused on the empowerment of women, with positive people hoping to enact change within their communities.

Women in Technology’s (WIT) 2014 Miss Representation screening and panel discussion

Women in Technology’s (WIT) 2014 Miss Representation screening and panel discussion

Oxfam’s 2014 Gender Empowerment speaker’s evening, organised by QUT resident and Oxfam QLD Co-chairman Manisha

Oxfam’s 2014 Gender Empowerment speaker’s evening, organised by QUT resident and Oxfam QLD Co-chairman Manisha

Girls in Engineering Making Statements (GEMS) 2014 Girl Rising screening and 2014 Do It in a Dress initiative

Girls in Engineering Making Statements (GEMS) 2014 Girl Rising screening and 2014 Do It in a Dress initiative