Today's columnist, Anouchka Santella: I'm not a feminist but'¦

It's 2016 and we're supposed to be living in enlightened times. We can get food delivered to our door anytime of the day or night, ask Siri where the nearest bar is, see gay people getting married and there are laws insuring men and women are equals.

By The Newsroom
Wednesday, 24th February 2016, 10:16 am
Updated Wednesday, 24th February 2016, 10:20 am

All in all, the 1940s seem far in the past. Which is why I was surprised when, last week, after talking about feminism with three clever women, their first reaction was to say “I’m not a feminist but...”.

I kind of think of a woman not being a feminist in the same way as a cow eating a burger – why would you do this to yourself?

I asked them if they thought women and men should be equals.

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They said yes. I asked if they thought it was normal that, in some industries, such as the big and supposedly open-minded film industry, women still don’t get as many jobs as men.

They said no.

I asked if they thought it was normal that in some industries women still earn less than men.

They said no.

I asked if they thought it was OK for men to think of women as sexual objects that they can grope, whistle at, or pressure into having a relationship with them.

They said no.

I asked if they thought the many double standards we witness every day are fair.

They said no.

I asked if they were sure they were not feminists.

They said yes.

Apparently their idea of feminism is an angry and aggressive naked woman who hates men and often goes to protests.

They say women who defend women’s rights are usually scary and a bit crazy and over the top, so they don’t consider themselves feminists. I talked to them about other self-proclaimed feminists, people who aren’t scary or crazy or always naked (although sometimes they are).

People like the artist Petra Collins, Karley Sciortino from the blog Slutever, adult performer Stoya or writer Emer O’Toole.

I talked to them about their ideas, what they say and what they defend, and my friends all agreed with each of these women.

Then I showed them some pictures of these four girls and suddenly they couldn’t focus on the feminist thoughts because they could see some armpit hair and “not shaving is really gross”.

I don’t think they’re ready yet.

It’s not about shaving or not shaving – I personally don’t think I’d suit armpit hair – it’s more to do with less judgement and a brain that accepts that being a woman doesn’t necessarily mean being hairless.

It doesn’t mean my friends think women belong in the kitchen, they just think it’s fine to think feminist thoughts as long as you apparently don’t do anything about it and still look like an appropriate girl in public.

I asked them why they read and liked Simone de Beauvoir’s the Second Sex so much and they said it was different back then because women had no rights at all, so really we shouldn’t complain that much nowadays, even though obviously “some things still need to change”.

I asked them if they thought mocking a woman for her physical appearance and being ashamed to be seen as a feminist was the way to change things for women.

They didn’t answer.