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feminist of the week: ebonie hyland

Name: Ebonie Hyland
Student, Writer

How would you describe yourself and your life?
I spent the first 18 years of my life in Warrnambool, in the same little house with a white picket fence on the top of a hill near the sea. It was a humble, quiet existence, driven by music, books and an addiction to writing. I moved to Melbourne straight after finishing high school, having been accepted into the BA of Creative Writing at RMIT. Now I’m in my final semester of the three-year course, nervously awaiting the big, bad world beyond graduation.

What does feminism mean to you?
I believe feminism is about the ability to choose how you want to live your life, regardless of your gender. It is about independence, choice, and above all else, equality.

Do you think feminism has a place in today’s society?
Most definitely! It’s appalling how women have been treated in the past, and though our society has progressed immensely, gender inequality still exists. To many people, and in some cultures, women are still seen as inferior. For as long as women are restrained, feminism will be an important aspect of society.

Which feminist stereotype annoys you the most? Why?
The term feminist seems to imply a strongly opinionated male-hating woman, who rants about gender equality on a daily basis. Such a stereotype is absurd – any label comes with expectations, but really, it’s about the individual (male or female), and what they believe to be right and just. How that individual goes about voicing their opinion shouldn’t be an issue to anyone who agrees with their point of view – and I’d like to think most Australians would agree with gender equality.

If you could pass on one piece of advice to other feminists, what would it be?
If you believe in gender equality, call yourself a feminist and let it be known. I don’t think enough people realise how relevant feminism still is. We are lucky here in Australia, for so many reasons, and I think it’s important to remember this. Everyone should make the most of the choices we’re now granted, and help those who remain repressed.

When did you first realise you were a feminist?
I’d honestly never considered myself a feminist until recently, but I’ve always been shocked to hear how women have been treated in the past. I think it was when I was told about my paternal grandparents’ marriage that I realised how grateful I should be. My Nana was told to marry my Pa because their families were both well respected, dutiful Catholics. They separated not long before I was born, and from what I’m told, it was a loveless marriage, entered into simply because neither had a choice, least of all my Nana.

In my childhood naivety, I could never quite understand why they didn’t just refuse to marry if they weren’t in love – how unromantic! I couldn’t articulate my frustration in the stupidity of it all – how their lives were dictated by obligation – until a few years later when I read Sylvia Plath’s The Bell Jar. The pressures of the world how they knew it took shape then, and I’ve since been determined to forge a career out of the countless opportunities that so many have not had. I want everyone, everywhere, to have the right to determine what becomes of his or her own life.

Ebonie Hyland muses about writing, cooking and life on her blog Quirky and Curious

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