Feminism with a capital F

My feminism will be intersectional, or it will be bullshit — Flavia Dzodan

By Sarah Nielsen-Harvey, Co-Convenor of The Greens (WA), Candidate for East Metro, Co-Campaign Manager of East Metro
Wednesday, March 8, 2017

I am the second most privileged person within our society. I am white, heterosexual, well-educated and cis-female. But when I talk about Feminism, I talk about intersectionality with Indigenous people, people of colour, trans people and non-cis men. Because if I don’t, I am not talking about Feminism at all.

It must, however, also be noted that while I do this, I will never speak on behalf of people or the experiences I have never had. I will listen. I will echo. I will boost these voices because as a person of privilege that is what I can do. Intersectionality in Feminism is essential not only to the Feminist movement, but to the Greens. The Greens roots are based firmly in Feminism, but moving forward we must be more adamant and steadfast than ever in our Feminism because every day it under attack.

We live in a country where the Minister for Women does not call herself a Feminist, and her predecessor was a man who systematically undermined, denigrated and insulted women. We live in a country where Indigenous women are 40 times more likely to experience domestic violence than non-Indigenous women. Where feminism is still largely talked about in a trans-exclusionary and dismissive of non-cis men manner.

Missing, presumed excluded

It doesn’t even touch on Donald Trump and the Republican ‘global gag rule’. It doesn’t touch on the fact that the gender pay gap is worse in Western Australia than any of Australia. And this doesn’t even begin refer to the fact that when we talk about the gender pay gap, we fail to recognise the further distinction of Indigenous women or women of colour compared to Anglo-Middle-Class women. Or when we talk about “Women getting the Vote”, it completely disregards Indigenous women.

Two Asian women take a selfie, one wears a hijab, the other doesn't

International Women’s Day is something to be celebrated. It highlights how far we have come and how far we are yet to go. However, one day a year to do this is not enough. It doesn’t effectively combat the sexism and misogyny we face every day, nor does it do enough to change the ideas, beliefs or values that keep this discrimination in place. Which is why, being adamant in our Feminism is an absolute must.

The S word

At last year’s November National Conference I presented a workshop on ‘Sex and Politics: exploring the barriers for young women and non-binary people in stepping into the public political sphere, including the broad role of Feminism within the Greens.’  The fact is, for young people sex and feminism is highly intertwined. It defines our relationships, our experiences, and our biggest fears.  

On a daily basis young people are subject to slurs, inappropriate advances, and sexual abuse. We fear walking home at night. Even though statistics say that you are more likely to be raped by someone you know; but what if? We walk back to our cars with keys in between our fingers. We sit on a train and scan other passengers and their ‘danger level’. We go on a date, and have escape plans (a), (b), and (c). And yet this isn’t even all of the casual sexism we face; nor does it touch on institutionalised sexism.

We must speak as ‘Capital F Feminists’ — because by identifying ourselves as this, it makes us stronger. It binds us together in the new wave of intersectionality and leaves behind the racism and trans-exclusion. Sisters not Cisters.

We need to be Capital F Feminist, because young people need to see it, to feel it, and to be empowered by it. Young people cannot be what they cannot see. This is why Feminism with a Capital F is how we move forward, how we dismantle patriarchal and masculinist government, institutions and society.