OPINION: Teenagers need feminism too

Author T.J. Hamilton.
Author T.J. Hamilton.

WHEN Cate Akaveka - owner of Mary Ryan's Hervey Bay - heard that Sweden was giving a copy of Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie's 'We Should All Be Feminists' to every 16-year-old in the country, she wished our own country were as progressive as the Scandinavians.

Being that she owned a bookstore of her own, she realised she could extend the same offer to the youth of the Fraser Coast.

Any interested 16-year-old should see Cate, show their ID and they will receive their very own copy of the book, for free.

I highly recommend any parent of a teenager to encourage them to take up this opportunity, because the brilliant thing about the writing of Adichie is that feminism isn't shoved down your throat, like it's often believed with feminists.

In her incredible TED speech, Adichie talks about the very subtle imbalances that we have in society. It wasn't until I listened to her speech that I could identify with what it meant to be a feminist.

The common stereotype of a feminist is a man-hating, bra burning woman who prefers to let her body hair grow wild (not that there is anything wrong with that).

But I, just like Adichie, am a girly-girl. Anyone who knows me knows I like to get dressed up, do my hair and shave my legs.

But it's the way I'm treated because I am a woman that makes me identify myself as a feminist.

When we lived in Sydney, my husband's work allowed him the flexibility of staying home more often, whereas my job as a cop meant I was usually unable to attend events at my son's school.

So my husband was better known to our son's teachers and parents at the school.

To us it didn't seem too out of the ordinary and worked really well, but it was other people's reactions to our life that interested me, and is part of the subtle prejudices that we face, without even realising.

As women, we are expected to act certain ways. We are often expected to choose either raising children or a career, but still questioned if we want both.

Whereas men are just expected to work - which in itself is a gender imbalance.

The roles of men and women have changed.

I'm hard-pressed to find an occupation within our society that the opposite sex wouldn't be able to do competently, so our equality needs to be celebrated.

What Adichie's writing has done is open the conversation on gender and talk to our next generation about what defines us physically, but how we can balance one another.

I applaud Cate Akaveka for taking the initiative and offering this wonderful insight into how we can all be feminists.

Topics:  tj hamilton

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