Scroll through the comments on any article remotely related to advancing “women’s rights” in the modern age, and you’ll find all kinds of men – and women professing that the Western world has no need for feminism anymore.
Those same people argue that the difficulties of women in the 21st Century hold nothing to the problems of first-wave feminists – suffragettes who, in the early 1900s, had to fight for our right to vote.
I tend to be inclined to think that Emmeline Pankhurst, leader of the British suffragette movement, and my family’s matriarch, would disagree.
Feminism was never a wave.
Rather, it is an ever-building movement. It is where we, the women of today, have the capacity to build on the achievements of our foremothers to make the world a better place.
Suffrage is not as old as we might think.
Within our mothers, grandmothers, and great-grandmother’s lifetimes, they faced not being able to exercise the very core principle of democracy – the right to vote and stand for office.
Feminism never did live and die with their fight for suffrage. Where the balance of power tips out of our favour, the need for the social, political and economic equality of the sexes survives:
In our boardrooms: where we are paid less for equal amounts of work and have credit taken for our ideas.
In our Parliaments: where our female politicians are slandered for what they wear, who they’re married to and whether they have children.
In our homes: where on average, one Australian woman is murdered per week by her current or former partner.
In our classrooms, doctors’ offices’, street corners and pubs.
In crowded trains home, supermarkets and across social media.
In each inch of advertising, and throughout the cultural undercurrents that support everyday sexism.
We must acknowledge the fact that we live in a world that was created, and is still so-often shaped, by men.
Emmeline, in her Freedom or Death speech, stated that ‘as long as women consent to be unjustly governed, they will be’. And so, I make this my call-to-arms.
Feminism is needed now, more than ever.
You are privileged well beyond having the right to vote. You have your own unique voice.
Utilise and emphasise it. Stand proudly on the shoulders of the women who have come before you. Be militant each in your own way.
Engage in politics – in any form. Go out and vote.
Question, and demand answers, from policymakers.
Attend protests and rallies.
Make noise and demand to be heard.
Because, if feminism were ever a “wave”, it would be something akin to a tsunami. You have the support – and power – of centuries of feminists behind you.
We have a long way to go.