The F Word and You: Dawn Steacy

What does feminism mean to you?

To me, feminism means the struggle for women to achieve equality and fair treatment in all aspects of their lives. Some of this obviously includes activism and protest to achieve changes in policies which directly affect women’s lives, and another aspect of it should include empowering women to look for change within their own lives, workplaces,families and relationships.

When did you realise you were a feminist?

I don’t remember a specific moment of realisation but I certainly picked up on certain niggling issues when I was a teenager such as girls being called sluts for doing the same things guys received a high five or a slap on the back for doing, or stupid comments from teachers about girls taking certain practical or more technical subjects. What pushed me more towards seeing these small things within a larger framework was taking some Women’s Studies classes, learning about feminism and seeing how far we had left to go.

What area/issue is the most important to you?

Currently the biggest issue to me is abortion rights. I’m 24 years old and it amazes me that for most of my life, a judgement made by the Supreme Court, the final arbitrator on constitutional issues has been ignored by successive governments. The lack of compassion for women whose life has been endangered by their pregnancy and the lies being spread by the pro-life side make me so angry.

What do you say to people who say “I’m not a feminist but….”

To be honest, I don’t really mind. I think a person’ sactions matter more than how they choose to label themselves. Obviously there are negative stereotypes about feminism and I can understand why someone would be unwilling to add that baggage onto their political identity. If a person chooses to speak out against sexism regardless of whether they identify as a feminist, I will support their opinion. It’s the issue that matters, not th elabel.

Where do you see the feminist movement going in the future?

Ideally the feminist movement would be able to achieve its goals and we can create a world in which men and women are equal and are treated with respect. We may have much left to do but I am hopeful that with time, wewill be able to live in a more egalitarian society.

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