Michele A’Court’s ad­vice to girls

Come­di­enne Michele A’Court has some wise words for girls

Woman’s Day (NZ) - - What A Week! -

You hear some great con­ver­sa­tions in women’s bath­rooms. In April 2016, I was per­form­ing my show in Queen­stown and as we headed into the half-time break, I promised we’d come back to talk about fem­i­nism – a jolly romp through the his­tory of the women’s move­ment over the past 250 years. Trust me, it’s heaps more hi­lar­i­ous than you are imag­in­ing right now.

Dur­ing the in­ter­val, I nipped to the loo. From be­hind my cu­bi­cle door, I heard a cou­ple of young women chat­ting.

“Hey, So­phie, what’s fem­i­nism? Is that when women hate men?”

“No,” So­phie replied, “but I think that’s what men think it is.” True story.

And So­phie’s right – a bunch of peo­ple like to dis­miss fem­i­nists as “man-haters”, as though ask­ing for the same rights, op­por­tu­ni­ties, rates of pay and so­cial free­doms for all gen­ders must be about be­ing hor­ri­ble to men.

In fact, fem­i­nism is about equal­ity. Right now, the world is a slightly dif­fer­ent place if you are a woman. You earn less money (be­cause the in­dus­tries women work in are less well paid than the equiv­a­lent in­dus­tries pop­u­lated by men), and more of the un­paid par­ent­ing and do­mes­tic work falls to women.

Women are un­der­rep­re­sented in busi­ness and pol­i­tics – in the US, there are more CEOs called John than there are CEOs who are women. We are half the pop­u­la­tion, but it doesn’t look like that in gov­ern­ment or busi­ness or sci­ence or in sport and en­ter­tain­ment.

There’s a thing called “un­con­scious bias”, which ac­counts for men be­ing more likely to be given these op­por­tu­ni­ties than women are. e.

Think about this ques­tion: “Can I have a ca­reer and a fam­ily?” Don’t worry about the an­swer – just think about that ques­tion. Ev­ery woman asks her­self this, but very few w men need to. And if the boys aren’t do­ing it, it’s not equal.

Women are also more likely ly to be vic­tims of do­mes­tic vi­o­lence, and the threat of phys­i­cal and sex­ual vi­o­lence makes it harder for us to move freely around the world. There are places we don’t go, jobs we don’t do and op­por­tu­ni­ties we miss be­cause we are women.

In the sim­plest terms, a fem­i­nist is a per­son who doesn’t want to take s*** for be­ing a woman. What we are ask­ing for – bet­ter paid parental leave, pay eq­uity, af­ford­able child­care, safety, re­spect and free­dom from un­con­scious bias against us – is not un­rea­son­able.

Fem­i­nism is about not treat­ing women as “other” or as “men with a de­sign flaw”. Some­times – in­cor­rectly, I think – fem­i­nism is ex­pressed as women do­ing all the things that men do. But re­ally, it should be about free­ing women from pre­scribed roles and also – this is re­ally im­por­tant – free­ing men from their pre­scribed roles. Men are too of­ten pushed into a place where they work too hard and miss out on time with their kids, find it dif­fi­cult to ask for help, self-med­i­cate for de­pres­sion, and are more likely to suf­fer heart at­tacks and die ear­lier.

Fem­i­nism, when you see it clearly, is about lib­er­at­ing us all.

Michele A’Court’s ad­vice for young women in Woman’sDay fol­lows on from her best-sell­ing book Stuff IFor­got­toTell MyDaugh­ter,Harper­Collins, rrp $34.99.

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