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               I’m not one to get on a soapbox – I’m a feminist, but you won’t hear me telling anyone without first being asked the question, “Are you a feminist, Mel?” And yet I feel the need to speak out, because the Tumblr blog Women Against Feminism (WAF) has left me scratching my head. Not because I haven’t washed my hair in protest against men stereotyping the female of the species as ‘good for nothing more than being pretty’, but because I’m literally “WTF-ing” all over the shop. I think it’s safe to say that Generation Y doesn’t ‘get’ feminism. And it’s my generation.

Millennial women are wary of the possible stigma associated with feminism. The F word has copped a bad rap over the last, oh, hundred years. Many of my generational comrades still see it all as radical-1970s-man-hating-bra-burning-hairy-armpits. But an its core, feminism is the belief that women and men should share social, political and economic equality. Simple.

Women Against Feminism describes itself as a voice against the “toxic” culture of modern feminism, and members post photos of themselves holdings handwritten signs proclaiming why they don’t need such an ideology. Those vary from the true-but-beside-the-point “not all men rape” to the laughable “I believe in equality, not women’s superiority.” So, um you’re a feminist?

Another WAF argument is that women and men aren’t the same. That’s true, but this isn’t about being the same – it’s about being equal. A pro-women stance doesn’t necessarily mean you’re anti-men. (Those radical feminists who made you believe such tripe grind my gears, too.)

               If you’re unsure as to whether you’re on board HMS Feminism, I quote Arthur Caitlin Moran’s quick way of working it out (In How To Be A Woman): “Put your hand in your pants. A) Do you have a vagina? And b) Do you want to be in charge of it? If you said ‘yes’ to both questions, then congratulations! You’re a feminist.”

It’s not just an exclusive collective saved for the females of planet earth, however; men can (and should) be feminists. Protagonist in a lot of my daydreams, the actor Joseph Gordon-Levitt says he’s “absolutely” a feminist and, “It’s worth paying attention to the roles dictated to us and that we don’t have to fit into those roles.” And Gen Y didn’t create the meme ‘Feminist Ryan Gosling’ for nothing. Honestly, we need more men to back us up. (A lot of them already don’t shave their pits – it’s a perfect fit. Wait….)

Historically, there have been different waves of feminism. The first campaigned for suffrage, the second argued for women’s lib and social and legal equality, and the third built upon those platforms while challenging traditional ideas of femininity and sexuality. Whether you agree with any or all of these waves, listened to Bikini Kill or whatever, it comes down to two words: equality and choice.

Women against feminism, you can choose not to be a feminist, but the fact you even have that choice is because of feminism. In the words of Star War’s Admiral Ackbar, “It’s a trap!” I jest; it’s not. If you choose to be a stay-at-home mum, you’ve made a choice. Alternatively, if you decide you want to go back to work and your husband/wife/partner leaves the workforce to look after the kids, that’s choice and equality, too – and music to a feminist’s ears. To reiterate Gordon-Levitt’s point, no one has fit into any role dictated to them if they don’t want to.

It’s dangerous that Gen Y women are actively flying the (flag) piece of paper for ‘anti-feminism’. Please don’t’ undo centuries of hard work in abolishing coverture, securing the right to vote and own property, and the free choice of whether you want a box gap or not. I’m not saying you have to shout your allegiance from the rooftops. But what’s so bad about standing up for having the choice to be and do what we want?

Women in developing countries aren’t complaining about feminism, because they’re too busy having their basic human rights taken away from them. They’re being raped, mutilated and murdered simply for having body parts that are different to men’s. In Saudi Arabia, they’re not even allowed to drive, and women’s rights campaigners have been killed in fight for equality.

               Do you now understand how being anti-feminist is much more damaging than being a feminist could ever be?

Some may say it’s redundant for me – a young woman born in Australia – to argue about women’s rights, but even in this country I still earn 18.2 per cent less than a man would in the same role. Plus, a recent report by the Australian Human Rights Commission found that one in two women experiences workplace discrimination because of family obligations.

One more time for the cheap seats in the back: equality. All feminism is underpinned by the belief that women should not be discriminated against.

We’ve all seen Mary Poppings. Remember that catchy tune Winifred Banks sang about suffragettes and the female right to vote? Well, Mrs Banks was a homemaker and a women’s rights activist. Thanks to that fictional character (perhaps less her, more the work of aforementioned non-fictional feminists throughout the ages), we had the chance, in 2010, to vote in Australia’s first female prime minister.

Women against feminism, you say you’re against feminism because you love chivalry (actual submission to WAF)? You go, Glen Coco – so do I. If a guy wants to buy the first round of frosty milkshakes, I’m not going to tell him otherwise because I’m a feminist. Until the pay gap ceases to exist, if I can save on one round, we’re both going to be happy.

Still, women feel they don’t need feminism, and I quote, “because I love masculine men like Christian Grey :P”. (Yes, another WAF submission, emotion included.)

Forget grey; it seems there are 50 shades of feminism. But odds are, if you stripped back the hyped-up versions you’ve been presented with by society, and looked at the core ideals, you’d put down that piece of paper and support the cause for equality and choice.

We’ve taught ourselves over time that modern feminists are men-haters and ‘victims’. So, in turn, we can relearn the true meaning of feminism. Or, at the very least, that it isn’t something to be “anti”. In the wise words of Captain Planet, “the Power is yours!”


Young woman denied an abortion after being raped in Ireland

A young woman was forced to give birth by caesarean section after being denied the right to an abortion in Ireland – she became pregnant after she was pregnant and did not want a child. She was refused an abortion when she asked for a termination after eight weeks saying she was suicidal after the rape and finding out she was pregnant. Women who fall pregnant by rape or incest are more at risk from suicide. The woman told her friends: “I do not want this. I am too young to be a mother. I am not ready.” After finding out she was pregnant and didn’t want the child she was advised to go to a local doctor which is what she did, the GP gave her a letter for a hospital and she was admitted. She was told in the hospital that an abortion was not possible. The woman threatened to go on hunger strike to protest against the decision, authorities obtained a court order to deliver the baby prematurely – at about 25 weeks – to ensure its safety. The infant has now been placed in care. The guidelines in Ireland mean that women seeking an abortion could need approval from up to seven experts – and by this time it would be too late for them to be able to get an abortion. Irish medics in Ireland believe that her case highlighted the need to repeal the eighth amendment of the Irish constitution. “If a young rape victim, certified as requiring an abortion due to the risk of suicide, cannot access abortion services, then the legislation and its implementation are clearly fatally flawed. Repealing the eighth amendment in an urgent referendum and decriminalising abortion have now achieved emergency status,” the group of Irish medics said. Campaigners have also demanded to know whether this woman in question was given the option of travelling to the UK an abortion. 


               David Farnell, 56, and his wife Wendy went to Thailand to adopt two surrogate children that they wanted, until they found out that the twins that were going to be their children – one of them was a male down syndrome child (Gammy), so instead they rejected him. They brought back the female child and the female baby is still in their custody. At first the couple denied of Gammy (twin boy) existence and said they only had a baby girl. They said they left the down syndrome boy behind because they were told he was going to die. The Farnell’s were permitted to have a child overseas surrogate despite his criminal past. They do not test parents who want a surrogate child and do not investigate parents who want to adopt a surrogate child. Authorities look at children born via overseas surrogates on a case by case basis, meaning sex offenders can bring home children from Thailand. If you are going to a dodgy agency in Thailand no questions are asked. The couple first went to the USA but found it was illegal there for a convicted child sex offender to be able to be allowed a child. The female baby is still with the child sex offender even though she could be at high risk – because child protection believes the child is not at risk.

                David Farnell has 22 child sex offences. One of his victims was a girl who was just 7, the judge of the case said that the victims of David Farnell had been ‘robbed of their childhood’.

                He had been sentenced to three years’ jail in 1997 for sexually molesting two girls under the age of 13 and that months later, while still in prison, he was charged again, this time with six counts of indecent dealing with a child under the age of 13. The charges included ‘unlawful and indecent dealing’ with girls when Farnell was in his 20s. Farnell was sentenced to 3 years in jail in 1997 for sexually molesting 2 girls in ‘secretive meetings’ in his shed (or house), in 1982 and 1983, when the girls were aged 7 and 10. When the women became adults they made complaints, the women had suffered ‘depression’ and ‘difficulty forming relationships’ as a result of the sexual abuse he put upon them. Justice Michael O’Sullivan said the women ‘suffered emotional problems’ as a result. Farnell pleaded guilty to the charges, at this time he had no previous criminal record and was a ‘hardworking and constructive member of the community.’ Months later, Farnell was still in prison, he was charged again, this time with indecent dealings with a child under the age of 13. The jury found him guilty on four counts.

                Farnell said to the press “He’s made mistakes, we’ve accepted it…he’s made up for them.” David Farnell is divorced from his first wife who is the mother of his three children (who are all adults). Farnell is an electrician who works in the South Bunbury area on house renovations. An electrician who also works in South Bunbury said most people working locally in the trade had not associated with Farnell since they learned he had been convicted of child sex charges. ‘He’s a bloody idiot for staying in town. Bunbury is a very small place and too small for someone like that – he should have got out of town years ago.”

                The Thai surrogate mother who has given birth to twins on behalf of Farnell and his Chinese-born wife Wendy has expressed alarm at learning of his child-sex convictions. She said that she is a “little worried” about Farnell’s criminal history.

               Officers from the Department of Child Protection and Family Services made a second visit to the Farnell’s home in a attempt to interview them. Two officers arrived at the home, knocked on the door and left when no one responded. The RSPCA was forced to remove the Farnell’s pet dog from their home because they had left it alone  and they had been away from their home for a long period of time – it was taken for its own safety.

                Wendy Farnell said she knew of her husband’s previous convictions but she believes he is a “good man”. They were married in 2004 after being introduced by matchmaking website. They knew each other for 8 months before the marriage.

                One of the victims of David Farnell said that he should not be allowed to have custody of children. Farnell was convicted of sexually assaulted Sarah and her sister in 1997, he abused them in 7 and 10. His 3 year prison term was extended by 18 months when he was found guilty of assaulting another child, an 11 year old girl. Sarah has come out saying “It is my belief he should not have any children – not just him, all paedophiles.” “The damage is done and it can take years to repair,” she told the West Australian newspaper. Today Sarah is 39-years-old and she feared for the twin baby girl who is now in his and his wife’s care. “We need to stop putting these perpetrators first…because there is so many innocent babies and children that are abused day in, day out.” 

FEMINISTS DON’T CARE ABOUT THE FATE OF WOMEN IN THE MIDDLE EAST – This is the message I have read more than once on the internet by various people. If there is a news report on a Middle Eastern woman (or women) being mistreated – underneath you will always read comments like “Where are the feminists?” “Why aren’t the feminists caring about these women?” “Feminists only care about white women in their own countries” – this is bullshit. I’ve been a feminist all of my life, I have always cared and written about the plight of causes of women in the Middle East – I have posted a lot about Middle Eastern women in my blog – and I am a FEMINIST – and I care! How many of these people who make the presumption that feminists don’t care about women in the Middle East actually know any feminists? – follow any feminists online? – I don’t think many of them would want to -  otherwise they would have to swallow some of their criticisms on feminists. I scoff at anybody who simulates that feminists don’t care about the plight of women in the Middle East, but it’s easy for those to turn a blind eye to all the feminists who are addressing these issues all the time. It’s us feminists that spend our life caring about others and trying to educate people about what is happening to women all over the world – instead of saying things like “Feminists don’t care” perhaps if they became a feminist and supported feminism, they would be making more of a difference to the world – which is what feminists have been doing all along. How many of these men/women who don’t believe that feminists care about women in the Middle East follow this blog on Tumblr? I write about injustices to women and people all the time on this blog – as well as posting music and entertainment I like – I am happy for anyone to join who wants to learn what is happening to women and the human race (also the environment and the animals – yes I care about everyone), and get an education and the heads up of what is really going on in this world – but don’t you dare tell me that as a feminist I do not care about women in the middle east because that is utter bullshit.  

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