feminist of the week: ruby grant
Name: Ruby Grant
Occupation: Lip News Editor, Academic, Barista
Location/Hometown: Hobart, Tasmania
Describe yourself in one word:
What is your feminist philosophy?
Nothing too groundbreaking, really. I believe that gender equality is a basic human right, that women/women’s bodies/femininity should not be viewed as the ‘exception,’ the ‘variation’ or the ‘other’ to the male ‘norm.’ I believe that women’s bodies/experiences are no more or less ‘closer to nature’ than men’s and their skills, contributions and interests beyond the domestic sphere should be valued and honed. I believe that the system of patriarchy is inherently flawed, inequitable, harmful and irrelevant, ruining things for women and men all over the place. Don’t even get me started on porn/objectification. I’ll rip your head off/cry, no, weep.
How does Australia’s current political climate affect the way we, as a society, value women?
In Sociology class in year 11 the teacher carried out a social experiment. She asked us to draw a picture of a person we thought of as ‘An Australian.’ Everyone assumed it was about nationality/race/ethnicity. When we all had to show our drawings, I was the only one in the class of 25 people who drew my Australian as a woman. This has stuck with me all these years and is particularly poignant for me now. Australian culture, though vast and multifaceted, is a dominantly masculine culture, as is reflected through the current political climate. Anne Summers summed it up pretty well in her recent book, The Misogyny Factor, when she discussed women’s position in contemporary Australian politics through the concepts of inclusion, equality and respect. Currently, on all these levels, Australia seems to be falling short. We rubbished our brief female leaders. We pay women less. We see the resurgence of a right-wing government with a single woman in cabinet (who’s out of the country most of the time). We humiliate women asylum seekers. I sincerely hope this current political climate does not speak for how we, as a society, value women in the long run, and that times they are a changing.
How has online feminism helped the wider feminist cause?
OMG. I’m such a product of my generation. I love the Internet, and without it, I wouldn’t have got into feminism as much as I have. It is through Facebook networking that I decided I’d take the plunge and contact the local indie feminist magazine here in Hobart and become a writer. It was through blogging and sharing feminist articles online that I ended up writing for Lip. Some people poo-poo online feminism as ‘armchair philosophy’ or ‘slacktivism.’ You’re not a REAL feminist unless you’re out there painting over pro-life billboards with menstrual blood or knitting cute pink vulvas and throwing them at politicians, they must say. But I disagree. If online feminism has reinvigorated the movement, and I think it most certainly has, picking up those who may not have willingly gone along to a local SLUTwalk protest planning group along the way, then great! You only have to look at the awesome things done by Destroy The Joint, Everyday Sexism and Women Action Media to know that online feminism is getting shit done.
As an opinion writer, how have you dealt with negative backlash online?
I once wrote a personal article about my gendered experiences of working in hospitality, specifically, being a barista. It didn’t go down well with some peeps. Having residual low-ish self esteem from the teenage years, I had a bit of a cry about it. Then I had a sulk. Then I got angry. Then I got over it. People have been shutting women down for sharing their opinions, thoughts, experiences and knowledge for centuries, and especially now that the Internet seems to make it easier for them, we need to fight back against that.
What does the future of feminism look like?
I boast a number of skills of which I am unashamedly proud. However, fortune telling is not one of them.
Is there room for men in feminism? Why/Why not?
Look. I’m not going to be one of those many feminists who scramble all over themselves to tell you all about how much I’m a feminist BUT I LIKE MEN. It’s OK! I Like Men, I Tell You! I don’t want to develop some kind of artificial sperm technology, live in an all-womyn commune, breeding men out, while we keep the remaining males as slaves/pets. I do believe there is room in feminism for men, because gender equality and more inclusive constructions of genders benefit men as much as women. It must get lonely, smoking cigars, drinking scotch, wearing a tie and messing about with numbers or whatever the patriarchy makes them do. But, what I don’t want to see is feminist men being lorded over us as Amazing Nice Guys we should all listen to. I’m not going to give you a medal/sleep with you because you believe in um human rights.
What is the most annoying feminist stereotype in your opinion? Why?
ALL of them. Just let us be whoever we are.
What’s your advice to other feminists?
If you’re all ‘I’m not a feminist, but…’ read a goddamn book or better yet, take a first year Gender Studies course. If you’re secretly a feminist but none of your friends are, get online and find a community, start writing, make art, read a lot, whatever’s your thing. Don’t be afraid to be THAT feminist friend. It’s OK to be angry. It’s OK to have opinions. It’s OK to disagree with your Dad about his frequent use of the words ‘bitch’, ‘booty’ and the ‘black stocking brigade.’ It’s also OK to not unconditionally love all other women. We’re all different and the sisterhood is still powerful.
The book every feminist should read is…
The Whole Woman by Germaine Greer for beginners. C*nt by Inga Muscio for the radicals. How To Be A Woman by Caitlin Moran for a laugh. A Doll’s House by Henrik Ibsen for something old-school. Seahearts by Margo Lanagan for a good story.