August 11th, 2010

Feminists Are Tarzans

by Pamela Ng

In university, I belonged to a student group that hoped to raise awareness about women’s rights. We wrote poetry, published monthly articles and books compiling creative writing, shared research and media articles on women and gender issues, had peaceful walks in Melbourne’s city streets every 8th of March, International Women’s Day.

Overall, we were a happy community of women who cared about women. At least, that is how we saw ourselves.

Fellow university mates who found out I was in the group expressed disbelief:

“But you are not lesbian!” “You are pretty, wear dresses and have long hair, hardly a man-bashing sort.” “Why would someone like you join a club like that? You seem like a happy sort.” “You shave, don’t you?”

Like a criminal profiler, society has shaped a feminist as a: gay, angry, unattractive, male-hating, chest-beating female specimen who has enough underarm hair to braid and form bridges over gender issues.

Just to put it out there: A feminist can be a male or female. Point number one.

What binds them together is not the superficiality of their appearance but rather their deep-seated concern for women’s rights in the world. This can entail better legal protection for women, workplace rights, protection and shelter of abused women, micro-financing impoverished communities through the empowerment of the local women.

I could go on. There are so many ways women have been subjected to gender-biased, unjust practices or inhumane acts because they are female. It is a basic consideration and care for another human being.

It’s a shame that people cannot view the world holistically and see the need to narrow the disparity. I guess some people are still swinging from the trees.

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