This week, I was honoured to be named Lip Mag‘s ‘Feminist of the Week’. It’s a weekly column where they ask a feminist from anywhere in the world – from all types of backgrounds and beliefs – a few questions about modern feminism and their feminist philosophy. Here’s what I had to say:
Name: Jade Bate
Occupation: Journalism Student
Location/Hometown: Melbourne, VIC, Australia
Describe yourself in one word: Headstrong.
What is your feminist philosophy?
Well, I have this CRA-ZY idea that women are human beings and should be treated equally to men! WOW! But in all seriousness, I consider myself to have a fairly outspoken and progressive feminist philosophy. I believe that women should be given the same opportunities as men in EVERY facet of life, from work to education to their representation in the media. I’m so sick of people – from strangers to loved ones – telling me how I should act/look like/talk like/think as a female. Sometimes I may offend people with my ~radical~ and outspoken points of view, but to honest, I really don’t care.
Why is feminism important in today’s world?
Because there is still a mistaken assumption from a great majority of society that feminism has gone as far as it possibly can. Because people still think that objectifying women is the acceptable and “cool” thing to do. Because women all over the world from varying cultures and social backgrounds are discriminated against on a daily basis because of their gender. Because I don’t want to live in a society that prefers to criticise and judge women on how they look instead of judging them “by the contents of their character” (Thanks, MLK Jr.)
What books have you read that have influenced the way you think (about feminism)?
Growing up, I think “classics” like Pride and Prejudice and Jane Eyre really taught me a lot about the history of feminism in its very early stages. I mean, the word probably wasn’t even around in the 1800s, yet in those novels the female protagonists – Lizzie and Jane – are very strong willed, had a lot of lame sexist shit thrown at them and were able to fight through it all in the end.
A book that has greatly impacted me is Anne Frank’s Diary of a Young Girl, which I first read when I was 14 or 15; around the same age Anne was when she was writing it. It made me realise how lucky I am to be a girl living in a country where I can do whatever I want and be whatever I want to be. Anne Frank is definitely one of my idols and she showed me how powerful words can be at inspiring others. Her diary is full of memorable quotes, but I think this one especially applies to feminism: “People can tell you to keep your mouth shut, but that doesn’t stop you from having your own opinion.”
And although it’s not really a book, Tavi Gevinson’s Rookie blog and subsequent yearbooks have really captured my drive for feminism in the last couple of years. They are such amazing platforms for young women to voice their opinions on issues surrounding gender quality, and it’s all done within a forum of like-minded creative, awesome people.
What is the most annoying feminist stereotype in your opinion? Why?
Quiet often when I first tell people I’m a feminist they jump straight to the assumption that I’m a man-hating bitch. I hate the judgemental nature some people (and shockingly, it’s often women who don’t classify themselves as feminists) have of us. I think the main reason why a lot of young women around my age don’t want to call themselves the “f” word is because they think it sounds dirty and old fashioned. Also, I think they truly and ignorantly believe that you have to hate men to believe in gender equality (LOL). To them I say: I love men but I don’t need them to make me happy with myself.
Are “modern” feminists doing enough to make a difference? What more can we do?
I think now more than ever there are a lot of different branches and variations of feminism, so to define all feminists as “modern feminists” is probably not accurate. However, in modern society feminists are more united than ever before and I personally get most of my feminist information and empowerment from the internet. Sites like Tumblr, Rookie, Mamamia, Jezebel and, of course, Lip Mag are all fantastic ways to unite feminists from different branches so we can fight for a common cause: gender equality. I also think that as a collective fighting for the same thing we need to stop all this lady-on-lady hate that seems to be going around. I’m sick of reading analyses about whether Beyoncé is the second coming of feminism or not. I truly believe that it’s not up to anyone but yourself to decide what you are empowered by.
What does the future of feminism look like?
Honestly, I would LOVE to see a world where every person – be them female, male, trans, gender neutral, intersex, etc… – embraces feminism as a wonderful thing that can change the world. It shouldn’t be a scary word and people shouldn’t be afraid to call themselves by that name. Feminists are not Antichrists here to cut off your dicks and take over the world. People need to realise that EVERYONE needs feminism. Gender equality is not just a woman’s rights issue, it’s a human rights issue.
Finish this sentence:
If we want to change the world, first we must…
Education to change values and opinions. As a journalist, I am often ashamed to call myself a member of the ~ all-powerful ~ media collective because of its twisted and backwards view of women. I’m sick of seeing perverted advertising categorizing women into neat categories like the mother or the sex object. The media has proven to be powerful in changing people’s perceptions about almost anything, so hopefully – if enough voices are heard – it can put an end to gender discrimination.