Michele A’Court’s advice to girls
Comedienne Michele A’Court has some wise words for girls
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.