Failing at feminism


I am not an academic feminist – I know, it’s hard to believe. I’m not down with all the terminology but thanks to social media and motherhood, I’m on a one way path to feminism betterment and quite frankly, I feel like I’m screwing up weekly.

In my youth, feminism was all about “choice”. I gave little thought to the structural barriers that quite often impede “choice” because I was too busy wasting time doing whatever the hell it is I did with all my spare time. I thought *Bechdel was a cheese sauce.

I am often reminded of my feminist flaws via my much more educated feminist sisters, blog posts and articles shared via Twitter and Facebook. I once spent several weeks talking up Aaron Sorkin’s television show The Newsroom before someone tweeted a link to an article which dissected its complete and utter failure at said cheese sauce. It now appears that I can no longer enjoy many of my favourite programs or movies. I can’t even speak about Love Actually.

As for motherhood – can we get a feminist road map here?  Is being a stay at home parent a feminist choice or not? And why do some self-proclaimed feminists deride mothers so much? I’m frequently flummoxed by feminists fearing 4WD prams and if I never hear the words ‘über mum’ again it will be too soon.

I’ve learned that sharing a vagina doesn’t make us sisters but I’m not sure if some hide behind that one while secretly tearing other women a new one. And do women actually tear each other down or are the menfolk attempting to sidetrack us in case we start closing that 17%-22% pay gap?  Also does Peppa Pig pass the Bechdel Test? I’m asking for a ‘friend’.

My head hurts.

* A test for movies and television that must meet the following three criteria: (1) it has to have at least two women in it, who (2) who talk to each other, about (3) something besides a man.

 Are you frequently flummoxed by feminism?


  1. says

    And I just wrote this! I totally relate to how you feel about this and already there is another blog post swirling around my head questioning whether there is an aspect to feminism that borders on intellectual snobbery? If people are not confident they can join the conversation because they fear they will be castigated for ‘getting feminism wrong’ (and already in my piece on The Hoopla I have been pulled up for using the word “girls”), then there is no hope of gender equality ever being understood and embraced by everyone.

    • says

      Great piece Lisa. I’ve picked up on the borderline intellectual snobbery here and there – well basically Twitter (let’s cut to the chase). It can feel very exclusionary at times.

  2. Hannah says

    Like every -ism feminism is just one way of looking at the world. to me -isms are a way of looking not a way of being.. Anything that has a my-way-or-the-high-way way is not for me… and sometimes I feel a “with us or against us” pressure from feminist writers and commentators… eeek! Please don’t throw anything at me!

  3. says

    Once I was a feminist wannabe. But now I have fallen in love with the snorts of Peppa and sighed at the hot pants in the size 4 section of the kids wear, I have said no 1000 times to my toddler wanting the high heels at Betts Kids and done a gazillion loads of washing for my husband, probably a feminist failure

    But for my own daughters I will do my best to make the world a better place for women, my feminism streak will work on showing them that they are capable of anything, worthy of everything and that respect is something they deserve from everyone. For now, that is all I can do.

  4. mumabulous says

    Touch down Carli! This is exactly how I feel. There’s so much diatribe out there that it’s hard to pin point what feminism actually means.

  5. says

    I’m pretty sure Peppa passes the test, mummy pig talks to Miss Rabbit, not that anything on that show is a long conversation. You should check out the episode Funfair, it’s sort of applicable to this.
    I think the pay gap issue is a very complicated one which is often harmed by over simplification of the figures. All the same I have had some experience with having to fight for equality in work positions.

    As for feminist I don’t hold myself to that label I consider myself an equalist (I wrote about it a while ago). Feminist doesn’t fit me but I don’t have anything against others using the term.

  6. says

    All I know is that every time anyone mentions ‘feminism’ they start talking about ‘discourses’ and ‘post-structuralism’ and the ‘sociopolitical’. It just makes me want to fall down laughing while the credits roll… x

  7. says

    Newsroom fails? Then I fail too it seems.

    I have no idea most of the time, I know what I know and that is all I can do. It is a daily battle sometimes just to work out what is and is not OK at work, home, out and about.

    For me it is less about what I can argue intellectually and more about what I do day in day out.

  8. says

    I wonder why women need to be so critical of one another all the time – I’d love to make some changes like closing the pay gap, but I offend fine that some of the most critical objectors are the women who choose not to have children and complain that they are picking up all the slack of the working mothers. Why do we need to be so critical of one another?

    I had a baby shower the other day and my mother invited guest to write down ‘motherly advice’ to help me out once the baby was born. Some people wrote things like ‘nap when your baby sleeps’ or ‘smiles may not always mean the baby is smiling at you – it may be that the baby just enjoyed a poo explosion… be prepared to give them a bath’, but my sister in-law didn’t want to write anything claiming that she didn’t need help or advice when she had her babies.

    We are all different – but we are all women and we need to support and love another… because if we don’t, then we will all just end up sucking at ‘feminism’.

  9. Catherine RodieBlagg says

    My mother is a feminist through and through so when I decided I want to stay at home with the kids and not return to paid work (for a while at least) I thought she would be really disappointed in me. Don’t be silly, she said. It’s all about choice.

    There are many contradictions in modern feminism but for me enabling women to make their own choices is what it all keeps coming back to.
    For me, the next big leap will be creating more equality for women in the third world.

    And yes, Peppa is a feminist for sure.

    • says

      I just look at it as equality – which definitely means being concerned with women in the third world. Look forward to hearing what you’ve got planned x

  10. Workingwomenaus says

    I am regularly confused about where I lie on the feminism continuum. All I can do is try to raise a strong, confident daughter and hope that I’m not a complete failure at it ;)

  11. Tom says

    Feminism is beautiful on paper, but it has become a society killer in practice. I have spent my entire life floundering around in the whole gender confusion nonsense, and I have seen first hand the unraveling of our country. Personally, I would see the entire country burned to the ground before I willingly concede to feminists. For feminism, the end in this case does not justify the means.
    A recent large scale study revealed that women in general are less happy with feminism in place than they were before it. Equal pay, equal opportunity is great, and I support it. Beyond that feminism is poisonous. Just because a thing can be done does not always mean it should be done.

    • says

      Thanks for your comment Tom, I just look at feminism as meaning equality and I think there’s a way to go yet – particularly in some parts of the world – so I’ll still support it. Would love to read about that study though.

  12. Natalie says

    Stumbled across this article. Peppa Pig has conversations with her mum. She should pass the Bechdel Test. Incidentally, I also asked author Tara Moss this question (as a member of the audience) while she was in Perth recently to promote her book The Fictional Woman, and she said a measured yes, as I recall.

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