Women In Business

Let’s stop trying to make feminism popular


Many women are troubled by the idea that identifying as a feminist will pigeon-hole them, create a false impression (of some sort), and limit their prospects.

The fact that so many women resile from the feminist label is widely seen as a ‘failure’ of the women’s movement.

History – or should I say herstory – proves them wrong.

The reality is that feminism has never been popular and never will be. Feminism will always be at the frontier, and as such, a threat to existing powers and systems. Why? Because as soon as one frontier becomes mainstream, another opens up.

It’s hard to believe today that it wasn’t until the 1970s that women in Australia were allowed into the so-called ‘public’ bars of hotels without being accompanied by a bloke and corralled to the ‘ladies lounge’.

An informal campaign of civil disobedience began. Then, in January 1973, a group of feminist activists staged a protest in the Public Bar of the Hotel Manly in Sydney.

Can you imagine the names those women were called? And how many women stood at their sides?

Today, a woman who insisted on her right to walk into a public bar may not consider herself a feminist, nor be considered one by others.

The suffragettes, who marched for women’s right to vote in their Victorian dresses, were hurled into prisons and then force-fed when they protested their treatment by refusing to eat.

Their behaviour scandalised society. In Australia, at least (one of the first to grant women the vote) disenfranchising women would be political suicide.

Today, women face modern frontiers – at least in Australia. Paying women less than men for the same job remains the norm, as is having only a token woman or two (if any) on a corporate board.

We may never arrive at equality (and until we do, I expect blokes to give women their seats on the train!).

As long as we are traverse from one frontier to the next, feminism will never be popular.

I love to call myself a feminist. Yes, I will be pigeon-holed, and yes, the term may create a false impression or two.

But I call myself a feminist because I refuse to limit my prospects, or those of any woman.

To me, that is what being a feminist means.


About Kath Walters

Trainer. Mentor. Speaker. Kath Walters is a former Fairfax business journalist turned expert in media relations and content marketing. Kath trains and mentors businesses that want to use media and content to build their profile and profits -- and change the world for the better -- sharing everything she has learned over 16 years of writing and editing for top quality print and digital media mastheads. Kath has written an estimated 1.3 million compelling, informative and carefully researched words. The mastheads that have published them include: LeadingCompany, BRW, Australian Financial Review, SmartCompany, Business Spectator, Crikey, Women’s Agenda, Property Observer.

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