I’m a feminist from way back. It’s not very fashionable to openly admit to it these days. Young women I talk to don’t see the point, and think they can do anything they want from running a company to jiggling their booty on a music video all in the name of personal choice and have all the freedom in the world. They often don’t realise it has not always been so. I believe the history of the hard fought freedoms and rights we enjoy today needs to be celebrated and known by every generation of women ( and men).
I have a very impressive bookshelf full of all the feminist classics at home, From The Women’s Room and The Feminine Mystique, through to Fat Is A Feminist Issue and The Scum Manefesto ( A small pamphlet put out by the Society For Cutting Up Men back in the 70’s). I love that I have these important works that track the history and ideals of periods of fundamental change in my life. When I vote I think of the women who still cannot exercise this most basic right in other countries and all the women in the world without basic human rights, such as an education or freedom to go where they wish.
While my views have mellowed from my most fervent and urgent 25 year old days, I am forever indebted to the women who came before me and gave me and all other women the basic rights we were denied in previous generations, such as voting, property ownership and rights over decisions over their own bodies.
Each year, September 19 is known in Christchurch as Suffrage Day or White Camelia Day, in honour of the women who fought for the right to vote for New Zealand Women. This right was given in 1893 and New Zealand was the first self governing country to grant this right. And while I have always been of the belief it was probably granted when politicians of the day realised they would gain more voters that way, I’ll take it for what ever reason it was granted.
Do you still think women’s rights need to be fought for? What is important to you in the lives of women?