Contrary to what some believe, patriarchy is not a conspiracy theory cooked up by radical feminists whilst sitting around growing out their leg hair. It is a social and ideological structure which places men in positions of power. This structure privileges masculinity and devalues femininity, and is enforced by both men and women through a strict binary gender system. It is upheld by powerful cultural norms supported by the state, religion, tradition and education. The result is women’s limited participation and leadership in the public sphere (culture, politics, professionally religion etc). Men do not all benefit equally from this system, and many women participate in enforcing it. So yes, we live in a patriarchy. And no, it is not natural or inevitable.
How much time do you think a straight, white, cis man spends thinking about what it’s like to be a straight, white, cis man? Beyond the occasional ‘wow I can’t believe they gave me this high paying job even though I have zero qualifications, cool’. Privilege upholds social power structures and is invisible to those who have it. One can benefit from some social privilege and at the same time not experience privilege in other ways. For example, security guards don’t follow me in shopping centers because of the colour of my skin. Yet when I go to the movies, they rarely reflect my experiences or perspectives as a queer woman. In order to achieve equality, we must first interrogate our own privilege. I am commited to learning about my privilege and to try find ways to use it for good.
If you believe women should to be equal to men (personally, socially, politically and economically) you are a feminist. I believe in not only in access to equal opportunities, but also to equal outcomes. Because let’s face it, the idea of a meritocracy is bullshit. There are as many types of feminism as there are feminists. When I speak of women, I speak of anyone who identifies that way, including trans women (which should go without saying, but unfortunately does not). Everybody should be a feminist. Its the right thing to do.
Queers are awesome. I am queer. Therefore, I am awesome. For me, this term acts as an umbrella for many different identities within the queer community. There is a painful history attached to the term queer, especially for our elders. Once spat at people as an insult, in defiance, we have reclaimed the word. Language is always changing and evolving, and to me, the word represents fluidity, community and resistance.
When I was a child, my family didn’t know any gay people. I never read a book with a gay character or saw a lesbian in a movie. My only exposure to the word gay was as a slur thrown at the one, brave, out gay boy in high school whose life was made a living hell. I wish I had spoken up for him. I didn’t know queer people could lead joyful lives, have loving relationships or form supportive communities. I had never seen it.
Representation is important. Hearing diverse voices and stories allows us access to different experiences of the world and challenges default views and damaging stereotypes. Seeing yourself represented is infinitely validating. It illuminates possibility. If you don’t exist symbolically in a culture, it’s hard to know you exist at all.
I would like to acknowledge the traditional custodians of the land on which I live, work, and write, the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. I would like to pay my respects to Elders past and present and recognise this is Aboriginal land.