Saturday, January 27, 2018

Saturday Search - Feminism

My interest in feminism came about because of the many things I wanted to do and was told I couldn't - because I was a girl. This appalled me. What kind of an answer was this? I went in search of better answers, but no one had any better answers. This was how society was...and it sucked.

I didn't want to do anything too drastic. I didn't want to have to wear a dress all the time (at all, really, but I was willing to compromise!). I wanted to be an altar boy. I wanted to play football (rugby league). I wanted to ride my bike to the mangroves. I wanted to wear shorts to school, or trousers. I wanted to play cricket.

I didn't want to do these things because I was a feminist or a rebel. I was involved in the Church, and at 7, you could be an altar boy. I was holding out for this, and when I turned 7 I didn't even have a clue that the word "boy" was going to exclude me. It never occurred to me that I couldn't do it.

I played netball, I started at 7. This was cool, but my favourite game was rugby league and I wanted to play that. Okay, so no girls could play footy, how about cricket? No. Right. I set up cricket at school in the lunch break and girls were allowed to play. I could control that because my house was next to the school and I could pop the gear over the fence so we could play - the school had no sports gear. I don't think many girls played, I can't really remember, but it didn't matter because I could!

Riding my bike was because my friends did it and I wanted to go with them. I hadn't quite twigged that they were boys and there was a difference in what we were allowed to do.

And school clothes, well, dresses let the cold air up your legs in winter and I wanted to be warm. Stockings were no answer for me as I'm allergic to nylon. I just had to be cold. And shorts are so much better in summer because boys can't flick your skirt/dress up and laugh at your knickers.

I thought these were reasonable things. I still do.

As I got older, the word 'feminist' was bandied around. The Female Eunuch by Germaine Greer had caused a stir. At some stage, I read this and I can't say I was all that enamoured by the book or Ms Greer. I didn't want to rant and rave. I didn't want to burn my bra. I didn't want to make a fuss. I just wanted to do what I wanted to do.

In high school, things started to change for women, and I got to play some sports in female competitions - soccer, hockey, cricket, basketball. There were still places I couldn't go, things I couldn't wear, things I couldn't do, but as I got older these choices were able to be twisted a little more. I could sometimes get around the rules. I often had to fight, but if it was worth it, I did.

I'm lucky that during the course of my life, I've found people who do accept me as equal - or as myself! I worked with men who encouraged me to go get my truck license, go put up the fence, go ride the quad bike, go inject the sheep, go modify the seeder. I got in and helped. I learned. I got my hands (and everything else) dirty. There were some who started off by saying things like, "Well, if you earn the same pay as me, you'd better be able to do the same work," and "That's fair," was my usual response as I worked my arse off to prove myself.

I don't call myself a feminist. I just go and do what I want to do, wear what I want to wear, play what I want to play. If someone stops me, I might fight for my rights if it's important to me. I just want to be able to do my things, happily, without being categorised. If that's being a feminist, then put that label on. I'd prefer a world without labels.


  1. You know that I'm with you already on all the sport stuff and I'm pretty sure you know my cricket story. I was a tomboy too and I was the best wicketkeeper at my primary school by a long shot. Not the best girl wicketkeeper, just the best wicketkeeper. I wish I'd been born about 30 years later for that reason. Now as a mum of 2 boys, I try to be so careful about picking them up on things like: "he hits like a girl." Or basically anything that would indicate boys get to swagger because they're boys.

    1. Good on you for the language correction. It sucks when you're good, but you're a girl, so you can't join in. I could bowl when I was in primary school. I bowled at the garage wall for ages every afternoon. I wasn't fast and I had no run up, but I've no idea how I bowled because I taught myself watching TV. Dad helped a bit, but not much, because I was a girl. In high school I played cricket, but it had been years since I had so I was rusty and I'd lost that drive to bowl for hours at a time.

      We were just born too soon, Miss Lily!

      Cate xoxo