feminist of the week: kate bart
Name: Kate Bart
How would you describe yourself and your life?
Well I moved from Perth to Melbourne almost a year ago now, to pursue music and I’m still a little lost, the only thing I know is Melbourne feels right. I know more Irish in Melbourne than I do Australian and I can frequently be found in Irish pubs standing at the doors to the bathrooms getting confused because of the Gaelic words the pub use on the bathroom doors. You’d think Fir would be Female and Mna` would be Male. BEWARE, it is the other way around! Anyway I work in an office and by night I play gigs. My plan is to save money and record, then tour and hopefully be able to afford to eat by playing music.
What does Feminism mean to you?
Ultimately to me it means empowerment and education. Things are still not entirely equal in Australia although people have fought hard and fast to get to a point where women have almost the same rights as men in Australia (eg. on average women still earn less then men). I don’t claim to know how hard it was for previous generations of women in Australia however you can appreciate it, for say when you speak to someone like your grandmother in her 80s and all she wants you to do is to settle down and get married so then you don’t have to work (true story!) Also to find out where equal rights are on a global scale, is turn on the news. It is always shocking though when you glance at international news and see how oppressed women are still all over the world.
Do you think feminism has a place in today’s society?
Of course it does, women in parliament are still not treated fairly (did anyone see when a Senator meowed at Penny Wong last year?). Also as I said in developing countries there is a need for feminism as Christopher Hitchens suggested (and I am majorly paraphrasing here) ‘empowerment of women is the only known cure for poverty’. This is such a great argument, Hitchens goes on to say how the education of women in areas such as birth control is imperative to the cure for poverty.
Which feminist stereotype annoys you the most? Why?
The idea that feminists hate men. Or feel that they are above men. Feminism is about equality, in fact I was discussing this with women in the office and we all came to the agreement that it should be called ‘equalism’ rather than feminism, because to us it represents equal rights for both genders. Not that we want to disassociate ourselves from feminists but that as long as it is called feminism some people will connote negative stereotypes with the word.
If you could pass on one piece of advice to other feminists, what would it be?
Don’t be dispelled by other people’s ideas of what feminism should be or is to them. If you identify as a feminist be prepared to explain why, have your reasons. However don’t expect others to identify or reason in the same way you do. What you extract from theories and ideas of feminism are yours and yours alone.
Has your attitude towards feminism changed with time? Explain.
Definitely. I used to think that feminism was something my mother was involved in teacher’s college in the 70s. I used to think that it was a hippie ideal, something that Germaine Greer was holding onto that was dying, and yes I used to believe the stereotype that feminists believe they are above men. However as I grew older and I became more educated about the world I did very soon realise that even in Australia, my homeland that I assumed was free and equal, was not. Not to mention the oppressed position in which women (in eg. Saudi Arabia) are in. Recently I did find myself reading an article by Germaine Greer. It was one of the most insightful things I have ever read. In the article she explained how women didn’t gain power because she wrote a book, or even because there were protests and marching drums. Women changed because they had to. The economy was bad, husbands’ wages alone could no longer support a family. Women simply had to work they began to handle their own money and with that came the power. It was in this article that I realised why she is so admired and why she is a labeled as a feminist crusader.