06 January, 2013

Coming Out of the Feminist Closet

There's a picture I've seen on FaceBook the past couple of days which has finally spurred me to come out of the feminist closet - I am a feminist and proud of it.

Anyway, back to the picture. It's a picture of Australia's Prime Minister, Julia Gillard and US President Barack Obama about to do the traditional cheek kiss greeting. It's captioned "Kiss me, Ketut" - A reference to this Australian insurance ad.

I'm not going to post the picture - I'm sure you can find it if you want, but I have no intention of giving it space.

A lot has been said in Australia recently about misogyny and sexism, especially in the wake of this speech by Julia Gillard.

(It's about 15 minutes long, but well worth listening to)

To me, the Gillard/ Obama picture is indicative of an ongoing problem. It's sexism on the sly. It's considered innocuous enough that if you protest, say it's sexist, that it's not funny, you are accused of not having a sense of humour, of being too sensitive. And therein lies the problem. We have been sold that line - we have no sense of humour and we are being too sensitive. It's the same line we were sold when we started to complain about sexual harassment behaviour from work colleagues. The difference is we continued to say being patted on the backside was not acceptable, would not be ignored and laughed away. But now we are suppose to find pictures such as this funny - after all, who is it hurting? The truth is, it's hurting all of us. It's hurting your mother's, your sister's, your daughter's. It's say it's OK to use someone's gender as a comedic tool.

I don't want my daughter (or my son for that matter!) growing up in a world where this is classed as humour, where this is thought of as OK. It's not and it's time we stopped letting it be seen as such.

Just as an additional note, for those who are aware of my political leanings (left wing, Labor Party, if I was an American, I'd vote Democrat), I would have written this post if the picture had been Julie Bishop, a woman whose politics I definitely don't agree with.