Sins of the NRL

Last week, Wests Tigers’ Tim Simona was handed a lifetime ban from the NRL. He confessed to charges of gambling on NRL matches, drug use and deceiving a children’s charity. The explosive tell-all interview, Sins of Simona, was the Sunday Telegraph’s cover story. It revealed that his punishable gambling was placing $900 worth of bets on 65 2016 NRL games. Simona, 25, also shared his troubled history with gambling which began with playing the pokies as an 18 year old.

And yet, on the same day the story went to the print, The Sunday Footy show continued to provide betting updates on the day’s games.

And yet, in the off-season, Brookvale Oval was renamed Lottoland Stadium.

And yet, all NRL clubs are sponsored by a betting agency, with exception to the Melbourne Storm whose primary sponsor is Crown Casino.

And yet, when we, the fans, discuss who the favourite is pre-kick off, we look to the betting odds and not to our knowledge and love of the game.

The NRL is not only complicit, but is wholly responsible for creating an institution-wide gambling culture. In its present state, it simply can’t be counteracted with the throw-away “and remember, gamble responsibly” at the end of every betting update, or have a government-sanctioned anti-gambling advert run at half-time.

For all of Simona’s poor choices and unethical behaviour, he was set up to fail by an organisation that wants their cake and to eat it too. While the NRL were busy collecting their profits from betting agency sponsorships and Leagues Club pokie machines, they delivered a hands-off punishment to a player who didn’t commit a crime, but messed with the integrity of the game. To reiterate, Simona’s lifetime ban is for 60 odd $20 bets on NRL games; not for his illegal consumption and possession of cocaine or unethical interactions with a children’s charity. There is no doubt that Simona deserves a hefty punishment for all his stupid, unethical and illegal behaviour; and he should also receive the necessary support for his self-admitted gambling problem.

***

The NRL has a chequered history when it comes to handing down punishments to players who commit stupid, unethical or criminal acts. And yet, it’s been proven time and again that what matters most to the NRL is their integrity – they have a whole Unit dedicated to it. There have been numerous players over the years that have “brought the game into disrepute”. The NRL’s integrity is more than its brand, or the administration, or the clubs, and hardly ever about the individual players, their families and victims of their behaviours/crimes. To bring the game into disrepute is to peel back the curtain on a culture that was created by and for men 122 years ago; a culture that fosters and celebrates entitlement, elitism, and excuses for men to behave badly (also known as “boys being boys”).

The NRL picks and chooses what tarnishes their integrity, and it’s usually whatever effects their bottom line. A 2010 Dally M winner, Todd Carney embarrassed the NRL with the “bubbling” incident; he was promptly de-registered (following a slew of other incidents as well). Son of a League legend and, NSW halfback Mitchell Pearce embarrassed the NRL in 2016 with the “terrier” incident; he was banned for eight weeks and fined a quarter of a million dollars. In 2009, the then up-and-coming Queensland forward Nate Myles embarrassed the NRL by taking a drunken shit in a hotel hallway; he was suspended for six weeks, banned from State of Origin, and fined $50,000.

Many believed these punishments were harsh, as these individual acts weren’t illegal but definitely stupid (and gross!) – Surely their personal embarrassment was enough of a punishment? According to the NRL, it wasn’t, as they were embarrassed too. These high-profile players were publicly punished by the organisation that pays their inflated wage. However, that was the wrong motivation for punishing those players, including Simona. The NRL has never acknowledged their own hand in allowing an environment for those players to do what they did. Those players absolutely deserved to be punished (and must take ownership for their own behaviour); not because they embarrassed the NRL, but because their bad behaviour and the culture in which it’s allowed to thrive must be eradicated.

Despite the warranted punishments, it can be difficult to fully accept the outcomes for those players, when other players who have committed acts of violence against women are hardly punished at all; in fact they are often rewarded. Why? Because domestic violence is a private matter that becomes “a matter for the courts”, therefore having nothing to do with the NRL’s precious integrity. Simona received his lifetime ban, yet Robert Lui who kicked and head-butted his pregnant girlfriend received a North Queensland Cowboys’ contract after serving just a one year ban. Pearce was fined $125,000, yet Greg Bird glassed his girlfriend in the face and was welcomed back into the NRL and, continued to be selected for NSW and Australia. Myles was banned from Origin, yet Semi Radradra who was been charged with several counts of assaulting his partner, has continued to play for the Parramatta Eels.

The NRL has failed so many in their piss-weak approach to domestic violence, first and foremost, domestic violence survivors. It’s pointless for the NRL to say that they’ll “offer support to the young lady/female involved” or for people to cry that the NRL doesn’t create domestic violence, but is simply a sub-section of a bigger problem in society. Instead of using their platform to make profits from unethical sponsorships, they must – as one of Australia’s largest organisations – do and be better when it comes to punishing players who commit domestic violence, and of equal importance, offering genuine and tangible support to the survivors of it. An International Women’s Day luncheon is not the answer.

***

I’ve previously written about the challenges of being a woman, who by default, supports an organisation and culture that is so messed up – how’s that for a problematic favourite?! But I will love the game of rugby league until the day I die. My club’s 2010 premiership will remain of one of my life’s highlights, I will always check the round schedule before committing to catching up with friends, and I’ll always get anxious before an Origin game – the greatest sporting spectacle in the world.  It’s the game, not the organisation that is part of who I am. That’s not to say the game and organisation can be separated, they can’t. So as long as I’m a woman and rugby league fan, I will not shy away from calling out the bullshit (and demanding more) while still loving the greatest game of all that’s been part of my life for over 20 years.

Sour Lemonade

“To the left, to the left, everything you own in a box to the left”.

Beyoncé sang these lyrics in her 2006 hit Irreplaceable, which is about kicking out a cheating spouse. The song was never considered as a mirror to her life; it was just a sweet RnB-pop song that credited Beyoncé as the seventh writer. Two years later Single Ladies happened and everything changed. She established herself as an industry powerhouse; creator and controller of her perfectly curated image. With the 2013 surprise release of BEYONCE, she evolved again, this time into the bad ass feminist pop-culture needed. When she released the game-changer, Formation  in February this year, she positioned herself on the powerful platform of race and gender. For the first time she explicitly branded herself as a black female artist. GAME. CHANGER.

And since the Super Bowl we’ve all impatiently waited for what we assumed would be a spectacular, game-changing new album.

Last weekend, the visual album Lemonade was released, and I couldn’t be more disappointed and confused. Despite the powerful and beautiful images and lyrical themes of Beyoncé owning her identity as a black woman, the overarching theme is a glamourous reflection of her forgiving her cheating husband (while not confirmed, there are plenty of not-so-subtle lyrical references.)

However, let me be clear: there is no denying the profound impact this album has already had and will continue to have, particularly for black women for whom it was created. I’m not diminishing that in any way, as it wasn’t created not for me. It’s not my place to comment on the black woman’s experience – it’s only my place to support, learn and understand. Therefore, rightly, it leaves me only with the cheating theme to connect with and critique.

My dear friend Giselle Au-Nhien Nguyen recently wrote about having problematic favourites; her issue being with Beyoncé playing a Bollywood actress in Coldplay’s Bollywood-themed video, and still being ok with loving Beyoncé just as much as she always had. (Another fab friend, Ashley Anderson, has also written about the problem with idolising celebrity.)

Like Giselle, and so many other women, I lost my shit when Beyoncé stood in front of a huge FEMINIST banner at the 2014 MTV VMAs; I coordinated a military-style exercise to get tickets to her 2013 concert; and I’ve unashamedly ran to the dance floor to do my best Crazy in Love strut. I’ve always loved Queen Bey’s music and watched on in awe at the Boss Lady she has become. And like Giselle, I have now found out that the higher we place someone on a pedestal, or the greater level of perfection we expect from them, the more disappointed we are when they mess up.

And boy, Beyoncé has messed up. Twice.

I was expecting Beyoncé’s new album to be a sequel to her spectacular release of Formation: a deeper examination of the historical and current experience of the black woman, and her interpretation of gender and racial inequality. While those themes are incredibly showcased, for me, Beyoncé distracts from the social and political issues that matter by having a whinge about her cheating husband.

Firstly, I know it’s not Beyoncé’s job to educate me on matters of gender and racial inequality, but through what is really a stunning visual album, I’m getting something very different, and unexpected: an education on how to forgive someone you love for the ultimate betrayal. Maybe Beyoncé doesn’t want to rebrand herself as a solely political artist, but does she really want to be the poster girl for the clichéd dutiful wife to a cheating husband? Is this really what she wanted to use her post-Formation platform for? To encourage her mostly female fans to attack other women (when it takes two to tango)? To have the Internet try to figure out who Becky with The Good Hair is? While there are wonderful reflections of what Lemonade means to black women, I feel like Beyoncé has wasted a creative and political opportunity for everyone to focus solely on the issues that she so explicitly and amazingly aligned herself with pre-Lemonade release.

Secondly, I’m having a hard time processing why Beyoncé, such powerful woman, a self-proclaimed feminist would promote what is, in my eyes, such an anti-feminist act of standing by her cheating husband – especially in amongst content that actually matters. I’m struggling to support her creative choice to…heal (in public)? Air dirty laundry? Contradict her Bow Down mantra? I’m also struggling to think of any reason good enough or complicated enough that would ever warrant someone forgiving their partner who betrayed their love and trust.

As a non-perfect feminist and expert single person, I’m hardly the most qualified to comment on relationships and others’ choices about how to deal with the challenges within them. But I can only respond to what Beyoncé has presented, without explanation: her husband cheated on her, betrayed her, and she’s stayed with him. Regardless of feminism or relationship status, what she has presented is so outside of my moral compass. I’m disappointed that I haven’t been able to connect to and focus on the beautiful music and messages of an artist I’ve admired since she was hanging out with Kelly and Michelle.

I freely admit that I’m projecting my non-negotiable moral compass, as well as my selfish request to be educated on such important issues. Maybe the cheating narrative isn’t for me to understand, but I can only respond to what I know and believe for myself – and if that doesn’t align with what I expected and hoped for from Queen Bey, well that’s on me to either accept or not. At this point, I can only hope that I can press pause on my (bizarrely dramatic) moral response and, press play with a clear mind to appreciate the music and, the messages that matter.

***

Assuming this isn’t a bullshit, yet brilliant marketing charade, I’m holding out hope that Lemonade is a pre-curser to a divorce announcement and Beyoncé takes Jay Z for all he’s worth. It’s been 13 years since Crazy in Love, she doesn’t need him anymore. I also hope that we can all move on from focusing on the cheating theme to the issues that matter.

I still love and support Beyoncé, but her crown is now tarnished. Jay Z can remain in the bin forever.

Feminist Love for the Kardashians

People are always surprised when I share that I love the Kardashians. The standard reactions are, “but I thought you were a feminist” and “I can’t believe you love something so vain and dumb”. But I absolutely, unashamedly love Keeping Up with them. I follow Kim, Kourtney, Khloe, Kendall, Kylie and Kris, as well as Rob, Brandon, Leah, Brody, Caitlin and Scott on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. I love Keeping Up with Kim’s photo shoots, Kendall’s couture runway shows, Kim, Kourtney and Khloe’s Kardashian Kollection lines, and Caitlin’s new life. Earlier this year I binge-watched all ten seasons of KUWTK, along with Kourtney and Khloe Take the Hamptons and Kourtney and Kim Take New York. I loved every second!

And every true Kardashian fan has their favourite. Mine has always been Kim – she’s the most beautiful, loves the hardest and is a no bullshit kind of woman. Although Kendall’s stunning work for Balmain, Dior, Chanel and Calvin Klein means she comes in at a close second.

Perfection: my all-time favourite look of Kim Kardashian at the 2014 Met Gala (photo credit: eonline.com)
Perfection: my all-time favourite look of Kim Kardashian at the 2014 Met Gala (photo credit: eonline.com)
Moment of arrival: Kendall Jenner at the 2015 amfAR Gala, Cannes (photo credit: Marie Claire UK)
She’s arrived: Kendall Jenner at the 2015 amfAR Gala, Cannes (photo credit: Marie Claire UK)

I understand why people can’t stand them – you know, the people who hate them so much but still comment and rant about how much they hate them on everything that comes through their Facebook news feed. To be fair, they are everywhere, and purposely so. Brand Kardashian is far reaching, with businesses and endorsements for everything from fashion lines to energy drinks to apps to hair extension products to makeup lines and teeth whiteners. They are far from rocket scientists, but they’re not stupid. Kris is regularly seen on their reality show imploring the girls that she has their best interests at heart, encouraging them to protect and plan for their futures. And mother always knows best. They are well aware that eventually, their bubble will burst. But until then – and there are no signs that they are going anywhere any time soon – they will take whatever opportunity comes their way and turn it into their brand and another headline.

There will always be critics of this family – now so entrenched in our pop culture – who insist that that they’re fake, insufferable, stupid sluts who contribute nothing of worth to society. I couldn’t disagree more, and I will always defend their place they’ve carved for themselves – a place we as consumers laid the platform for. Physically, they are wonderful role models. These woman acknowledge their self-confidence but also their insecurities, they each their own body type in all their beautiful and flawed glory. They are upfront about the fact that it takes a lot of work and money to look the way they do, through their hair and makeup, and dieting and exercise routines, and the work they’ve had done (for example, Kourtney’s breast implants and (eventually) Kylie’s lip fillers). They are also, in particular Kim and Kris, excellent businesswomen, and they all proudly strike the balance of also being family-orientated women.

Kim recently declared herself a feminist (albeit reluctantly, but baby steps!) which makes perfect sense for her and her family. These women know what they want and who they are. There is nothing more empowering and powerful than a woman who owns who she is, her strengths, choices and future. And the Kardashians are an empowering and powerful family.

The Power of Makeup

Yesterday at work, one of my colleagues got a last minute request from a media outlet for a photo shoot with a student (I work at a school). Being school holidays, it was going to be a challenge to find an available and willing student. After several phone calls with no luck, the office collectively turned to me: “Mel, we can put you in a school uniform – no one would tell!” There was a chorus of laughter, of which I joined. I’ve heard the joke plenty of times over the years.

And that’s I why I wear makeup all the time. I look like a child, even with makeup on. I’m approaching 30 years of age– so it’s not a good look for me to be without makeup, especially at work or when I’m going out at night. It also doesn’t help that even at my age, I still get acne. Although it’s not too bad, it’s still embarrassing. Clearly The Pill isn’t doing the best job in the face department. (The only time my skin was perfect on The Pill was when I was on Yazmin – until research found it to be a major cause of blood clots among other issues. So that put an end to that perfect yet dangerous relationship).

It’s only been in the last 18 months or so where questions for my ID have lessened. It used to be all the time. All the goddamn time. I couldn’t walk into a bottle shop without getting asked by staff why I was there, and even with younger friends at a bar, I’d be the one asked for ID and not them. An occasion that stands out was when I was buying a tote bag (or something like that) from a store, and the sales assistant told me that, “it’d be great for school” – I was 23, so at best she thought I was 17. Clearly makeup didn’t make a difference on these occasions, but I felt it always helped in a small way, and it certainly made me feel like a grown up. And please trust me when I say, it is absolutely not a compliment to get asked for ID in your 20s, and I wish people would stop telling me it is, “Oh, you’re lucky. Just wait until you’re 40 and you’re still getting asked for ID”. That’s great, but I’m not 40 so please stop talking.

Top left: Fresh from the shower, no make up Bottom left: My own make up (at a wedding) Right: Professional make up (at a wedding)
Top left: Fresh from the shower, no make up – July 2015
Bottom left: My own make up (at a wedding) – October 2014
Right: Professional make up (at a wedding) – May 2015

I’ve only now started relaxing how much make up I wear during the day when I’m not at work. It will include concealer, powder, eyebrow pencil (I hacked at them in high school, and they’ve never recovered, they’re so wispy thin and pale) mascara, blush and lip balm. A full face will be all of that, with the addition of liquid foundation, primer, eye shadow and eye liner (although I use eye shadow for that – I’ve never mastered the art of eye liner pencil or liquid) and lipstick. Red is my favourite! Since I was around 20, the only extended period that I can recall that I didn’t wear makeup, was a three week volunteer trip in Vietnam in 2011. I wore make up once and it was on the last day at a presentation ceremony at the school we helped refurbish. It would have been ridiculous to wear makeup on the Mekong Delta in 30 degree monsoon season, but it was a relief to be able to wear it after three weeks, and have genuine reason to.

I actually hate doing my makeup, mainly because I’m not very good at it and I’ve never learnt how do it “properly”. And its 10 minutes I could be spending doing something else, like sleeping or eating. So I’ve never been the girl to go to bed with makeup on, or leave on makeup or wake up early to put it on at a sleep over (with girlfriends or a boy), or wear it hanging out at home with family or close, long-term friends, or wear it to yoga – but I generally feel pretty uncomfortable without it. It’s not like I have an extensive makeup collection either. With the exception of my Clarins primer and concealer, I use Revlon – hardly high-end products and everything fits into one makeup bag which also includes all my lipsticks and I have about 15 of those. And much to the horror of my beauty blogger friend Tenneil (Like Neon Love), I only have one makeup brush!

My Mimco makeup bag
My Mimco makeup bag

I was inspired to write this post after watching this YouTube clip by beauty blogger Em Ford:

Thankfully, I’ve never been cruelly bullied that way Em has been – with or without make up. And I admire Em’s bravery in sharing her experience, of which I hope doesn’t happen to her anymore. But the video hit a nerve. I would love to be able to not wear make up as much as I do – but until my skin clears up and I actually start looking my age one day, it won’t be happening any time soon.

 

Miss Rugby League

Two major events happened this week: International Women’s Day and kick off of the 2015 NRL season. As a feminist who’s a rugby league supporter (or maybe it’s a rugby league supporter who’s a feminist), I celebrate both. The former involves maintaining the lady rage and the latter is a solo trip to the pub for a gin & tonic and wings.

I’ve been a rugby league supporter for 20 years (certainly longer than I’ve been a feminist or at least known I was). Rugby league is part of who I am, what I’m passionate about, it’s part of my daily life, so I look forward to season kick off like a kid on Christmas Eve. I stand by the truism that there are two parts to a year: footy season and off season, which is an excruciating wait until the footy season starts again, and so the annual cycle goes. To the uninitiated, I really can’t explain why I love it so much, “but you’re just watching a bunch of boofheads bashing each other every week” is a common rebuttal. Fine, if you want to simplify it like that, but to me it’s so much more.

It’s tribal. It evokes a range of intensely felt emotions in a 90 minute period that I don’t think anything else in the world can: pride, passion, jubilation, anticipation, disappointment, anger, relief and panic. I’ve felt nerves to the point of almost vomiting before a State of Origin game, been laughed at by housemates as they’ve heard me hysterically scream – valid and accurate – instruction to the television, had a panic attack in the final moments of my team’s 2010 semi-final game, and quietly wept when they went on to comprehensively win the premiership that same year, and last year I collapsed onto the floor in tears when NSW finally won an Origin game for the first time in 10 years. I love being a rugby league supporter, I’m proud to be a rugby league supporter and I will always be one.

Champions 2010: St George Illawarra Dragons
Champions 2010: St George Illawarra Dragons

Though what comes with the game day excitement, friendly banter, pre-game analysis and tipping competitions is the never ending stupidity of some players. It seems that in the last 10 years, every pre-season is met with an exclusive news story of a player or playing group getting in trouble (or worse) for anything from pissing in public, drink driving, driving without a license, illicit drug possession or dealing, dodgy involvement or knowledge of systematic salary cap rorts, drug taking of the performance enhancing kind, punch ups, shitting in a hotel corridor, glassing/attacking a girlfriend or sexual assault.

“But boys will be boys”

“He’s 24 years old, he’s just a kid who’s made a mistake”

“They’ve got too much time and money on their hands”

“They’re public targets from fans with camera phones”

“But we have excellent education programs in place”

Actually no, they’re being disgusting humans and I will never defend that kind of pathetic, idiotic and abhorrent behaviour. It’s hard to stand by rugby league when these kind of incidents continue to happen. And even harder when I’m an equally passionate feminist (ok, so I’ve never collapsed to the ground in tears in the name of feminism, I express my passion in different ways!)

“How can you be a feminist and a rugby league supporter? Isn’t that impossible?” I’m often asked, “it’s not impossible, I can and I am” is my slightly offended response. Yet considering this apparent oxymoron, I can see the confusion. Along with the annual pre-season Men Behaving Badly nightmare, the NRL is an overwhelmingly male dominated work environment. There is a long way to go to break down the entrenched boys’ club culture and see increased, genuine female representation. The pink jerseys for the tokenistic Women in League round, a couple of women in board positions, women’s Origin curtain raisers, just two (brilliant) female journalists in Yvonne Sampson and Erin Molan… it’s not enough. As a feminist, a woman, and a rugby league fan, on this International Women’s Day, I demand more. I demand the NRL to #MakeItHappen

#MakeItHappen #IWD2015
#MakeItHappen #IWD2015

As a feminist it’s my belief in my right to choose what I want do, and as a rugby league supporter it’s my right to stand by what I love. On this International Women’s Day, I will celebrate both events by writing this article as I watch the Sunday game.

Happy International Women’s Day and bring on season 2015!

An Ode to Greatness

Screenshot_2014-05-13-12-34-25-1
Ms Katharine Hepburn

I don’t know when I fell in love with her or even the first film of hers I saw. I think it was Bringing up Baby. It was her voice that drew me in; that distinct Connecticut, Bryn Mawr-influenced twang. She was different to her contemporaries. I draw inspiration from what made her different, magnificent. I aspire to be like her, but not to be her – no one can. But to reflect my own individualism and truth, a reflection of what she embodies. I admire her, idolise her, and even obsess over her.

There is always a risk of investing so much in idolising another. The risk of being disappointed by their failures and imperfections. She was far from perfect, but to me she was. This is a woman who had her pants confiscated for refusing to wear a skirt onto a movie set – instead she showed up in her underwear as a protest. It was a small, but powerful statement. She was not just an actress or Spencer Tracy’s lover, but a woman, proudly true to who she was and what she believed. She held herself in high esteem and never apologised for it.

She was once famously criticised for failing to emote with authenticity, to show the delicate skill expected of an actress; “she ran the gamut of emotions from A to B” accused film critic Dorothy Parker. Her apparent steely gaze, aloofness and frigidness makes her The Misunderstood Hepburn. But it was her composure and presence; her ability to transcend her legendary male co-stars including Cary Grant, James Stewart, Humphrey Bogart, Peter O’Toole and her love Spencer Tracy to name but a few, was in of itself, legendary. She was an expert in her field, winning a record four Academy Awards® in the Best Actress category – an achievement yet to be matched let alone surpassed, in the actor or actress category.

She represents so much for me: timeless beauty, fearlessness and strength.

She was formidable and ahead of her time. She is enduring.

Thank you, Katharine Hepburn for your enduring Greatness, and thank you for inspiring me toward becoming the greatest version of myself I can be.

Its 2013, but where have all the feminists gone?

we-can-do-it-rosie-the-riveter-7219
Of course we can!

In recent months we’ve heard female celebrities including Taylor Swift, Katy Perry, Carla Bruni-Sarkozy, Miranda Kerr, even Susan Sarandon refute feminism as a concept and as an identity. I’m certain that the Suffragettes did not campaign for equal rights so Katy Perry could say she is not a feminist in her Billboard Woman of the Year acceptance speech, or that Carla Bruni-Sarkozy could tell readers of Vogue UK that feminism is no longer relevant to women of her generation. These women have the successful careers and indeed lives they do because of the very concept they have distanced themselves from.

These women are rich, famous, beautiful, talented, influential and aspirational, which means they have a platform to reach out to their fans, predominately girls and teenagers. What does it say to today’s girls and teenagers when these successful women say that feminism and feminists are old fashioned, irrelevant or a label no longer needed? It says there is nothing more to be done to push for gender equality and, to forget about the women of the past who fought for your fundamental rights to vote, to get an education, to find meaningful work, be financially independent and above all, the right to make choices. In an age of celebrity saturation there is unbelievable pressure on women to be everything and everyone (of course in the sexiest way possible). Positive role models are needed more than ever. The Katy Perrys and Taylor Swifts of the world are these role models. Much like Spiderman, role models have great power and with that comes great responsibility. Don’t get me wrong, these women are experts in their field and their achievements and beauty are to be admired, making them (for the most part) ideal role models for young women. But they also need to be held more accountable for what they say or don’t say about how it is they got there and the importance of identifying themselves as strong, independent women – the very foundations of the ‘ism’ they just don’t want a bar of.

By refuting this ‘ism’ – an ‘ism’ as true today as it was in the early 1900s – it tells even the smartest and savviest girls and young women that to not only believe that the opportunities they now have just magically appeared, but to passively accept the opportunities they don’t have. I’m fairly confident you’d be hard pressed finding a young woman under 20 years of age to name a well-known feminist or describe what a Suffragette is. Perhaps a few could name Germaine Greer – and quite frankly that frightens me just a little bit if that’s all young women know about modern feminism. To be a feminist is to believe in a stand for gender equality, the same definition 100 years ago, 50 years ago and now – same end game, slightly adjusted agenda (for example, today, women can vote in an equal capacity to men in developed countries, yet the gender equality in the boardroom is concerning to say the least). This is no reason however, for a perpetuation of the misunderstanding of feminism. Modern feminism is not about angry cat ladies hating on men. Modern feminism is about acknowledging the challenges and achievements of women in the past, what they mean today and how we can use those challenges and achievements in continuing the impassioned and intellectual fight for the women of tomorrow.

Feminism isn’t a dirty word or an ‘unsexy’ one. It’s a loaded one, standing for equality and positivity in all spheres that women occupy themselves in and exceed in, or spheres where women must be given the equal opportunity – and choice – to do so. To be a feminist is something to be proud of. I am a very proud feminist. It is not a single defining quality but a reflection (as one of many) on one’s core values and character. It is something that we should all be, women and men. To be a (female) feminist is to be proud of yourself as a woman and all that defines you in your strengths and weaknesses, achievements and failures, hopes for the future and your ability to source both intrinsic and extrinsic motivation to get there. But where do we look for feminist inspiration if our (celebrity) role models aren’t identifying with it?

PS. A trend I’ve noticed lately is the need for women to identify as a ‘humanist’. Excuse me while I scream into my pillow. Is it more desirable and sexy and acceptable to be a humanist than it is a feminist? If it’s not the biggest cop out, I haven’t heard it. By all means, it is your choice to be whatever ‘ism’ you want to be, but let’s be real here, stand for the ‘ism’ with substance and validity. It’s the ‘ism’ that allows you to be sexy and smart.