Feminism and choice

Feminism helped me gain an education, power, and equal opportunity to men (still some way to go here in Australia). I have been able to choose my own life, my careers, my directions, my appearance, whether or not to breed and with whom, my words and thoughts without some patriarchal monster or dogma condoned by society deciding for me.

I don’t feel obliged to pursue behavioural individual or group models touted by others – thanks to my feminist mother I learned to rely on my own rational brain. I remember the first lesson my mother gave me in feminism – she showed me her old watch, which lacked the second hand typical for men’s watches. Why was it not important for women to tell the time precisely as well as men?

It is up to individual women to choose what they want to wear and whether they want to wear things to please themselves, men, purveyors of social discipline or any combination of these. The Quran’s original intention in instructing women to cover up outside the domestic domain was intended to define status and protect women – ironically in western countries, such traditional islamic garb now puts some women at risk and subject to criticism even by some who label themselves feminists. The obsession with dress reflects a pervasive materialism – what of women who attract men because of the depth of their intelligence and wit – should they hide those lights under a bushel as well in order to forestall crass male predations? Should women who hold views which conflict with those who champion burning the burkha be pilloried into submission?

If women are to be supported in their choices whatever they may be, then it is the assumptions of those who interfer with the expressions of those choices which deserve scrutiny.