Yesterday, Catherine Deveny did something brilliant (but not out of character). Equal (the non-sugar people) approached Deveny to invite her ‘to join a community of influential Australian Women who will participate in a debate about the choices Australian women make.’ Essentially it is another ‘forum’ for women to sit around talking about being women, because women are so amazing at being women and can really talk about it with each other (and that’s what this resurgence of feminism in public life is really about yeah?!).
I think Catherine Deveny’s response (which you should read – link above, including the classy response from the lady at Equal who contacted her) is pitch perfect and calls out a sexist, patronising campaign focused on using the donated time of a community of intelligent, accomplished laydees to sell some stuff which is in no way related to empowering other women or ending gender inequality (or addressing social justice issues more broadly).
The reason I so love Deveny’s response, and the action that she prompted on the part of Equal, is because she unashamedly advocated for herself and what her time is actually worth. As a young woman, I often find it hard to be able to do that with confidence. Either I feel uncomfortable with having to stand by the words ‘I am awesome so pay me properly’ (or thereabouts), or, I feel intrinsically uncomfortable believing I actually have valuable skills that deserve someone else’s money (who is able to pay).
So the lesson is – as young women, and young feminists – we need to be confident in knowing our financial worth and advocating for ourselves. The women’s and feminist movement is not going to progress if we can’t practice individually what we preach collectively. As you can see from Deveny’s experience with Equal, and other organisations, we are catalysts for change. Just because there are dollar signs involved, it doesn’t mean we have any less worth.
In thinking about this from feminaust’s perspective, it really gives me hope that we are moving in the right direction by setting up EDITH, a fund for Australian feminism. Once we have more financial power, in addition to our social and cultural resources, we can be even greater catalysts for positive change.