I generally like to consider myself one of those badge-wearing modern feminists who find they can get about their day fighting the good fight against the fascist bastard patriarchy while still brandishing perfect GHD curls.
But how can a committed pinko commie femmo like myself be similarly unmoved by an offensive T-shirt, amused by moves to put virginity on the agenda, and yet outraged by a political response to said virginity crisis?
Let me explain.
Facebook groups exist for all manner of causes and interests. I rarely join them, but I always find it interesting to see what other people are clicking onto. The way I see it, joining a group seems to be a way of quickly and easily stating your support for a particular statement, whether it be "Australians For a Republic"; "Bring Back the McFeast Deluxe" or even "WHEN I READ CAPITALS THERE IS A SHOUTING VOICE IN MY HEAD".
A group that's just popped up is entitled "Petition to Stop the Sale of Its Not Rape Its Surprise Sex" t-shirts. Now obviously this title includes two crimes; that of rape, certainly, but also that of gross misuse of the apostrophe. A few clicks around this particular group shows it's against a clothing range riddled with statements and images derogatory to women.
The overall message I took from this group is: "Rape is serious." And you know what? I completely agree. There's nothing "good" about rape. I'd be the first to put my hand up and give a mighty "Hells yes, asshole" if someone were to ask me: "Is rape bad?"
This brings me to a point.
I'm also anti-child abuse, and yet I chuckled at that whole controversy about the "They Shake Me" baby t-shirts. Sure, I'm not a parent. I don't know the intimate love of a child grown in my womb and borne from my woman-parts.... actually you know what, that whole thing sounds horrid. And yet, and yet, I remain enough of a human being to have enough of a capacity to understand the basic tenant that kids aren't martinis, and therefore should probably not be shaken.
As far as I can see, most humans who have a degree of humanity know - without having to ask - that sexually violating a woman is wrong. Completely wrong. In the same way that shaking a baby is wrong. There are just things in this world that are wrong. You can argue and categorise seriousness - that's not my point. My point is there's a big bucket of wrong things, and most people are generally aware of what those might be.
Rapists don't wear these t-shirts. Douchebags wear these t-shirts. And while it's fair to say all rapists are douchebags (far worse in my opinion), it would be unfair to describe all douchebags as rapists. And given that a large percentage of rape cases happen in the home, or are committed by men the women know, it seems highly unlikely that a genuine rapist would actually wear a shirt essentially spruiking his crime of choice.
But am I wrong? Should I, as a modern, lip-glossed feminist, be appalled? Or should I expect to incur your wrath, dear reader, for deserting my sisters, or tacitly accepting an anti-women popularist movement?
I'm happy to be wrong, but my unerring faith in humanity is that appealing to douchebags is not the be-all-and-end-all of 21st century capitalism. My guess is that this range of clothing will remain unsold on shelves - because I believe there are more non-douchebags in the world than douchebags. And non-douchebags probably realise that a) as far as comedy t-shirts go, this is pretty bad, b) even half-arsed attempts at comedic misogyny are still misogynistic and c) wearing a shirt like this is probably a guarantee of never getting any interest from a woman ever again ever. 'CAUSE WOMEN TEND TO NOT LIKE DOUCHEBAGS.
Now speaking of getting laid, let's talk about Opposition Leader Tony Abbott, and his hilarious Women's Weekly interview in which he discusses his daughters' virginity. 'Cause that's not, you know, creepy or anything.
Good ol' People Skills has advised his three girls to treat their virginity as a "gift". Now in my case, this would mean saving the receipt in order to get a refund...
...BOO-YAHHH!!! HELL-OOOO! That dodgy root joke has no basis in reality, but hot DAMN that was a good gag.
Speaking of gagging, Tony Abbott has triggered said reflex in many Australians by bringing up the topic of "waiting until marriage"; albeit encouraged by the journalistic giants at the Weekly.
Now certainly the rabid femmo in me strongly believes in choice. A woman's right to choose how and when she'll sleep with men. A choice that's generally been available to most men since, ooh, the first fish walked out of the primordial swamp, turned to a lady fish and said "Do you like your eggs fertilised?"
But I feel kind of sorry for Tony Abbott.* I really do believe that he answered that question as a Dad of three girls whom he'd prefer not to be seen as "sluts". Let's face it, there's still a double standard out there about women who sleep with "too many" men. I can't even say how many men, because it doesn't appear to be a set number. Five? Fine. Six? Too many. Seven? Skanky-ho town. I don't know. It seems to vary according to the person and the gossip. As a feminist, it's more that sort of judgement that angers me than Tony Abbott's panic in the face of his daughters' eventual feminine flowering. Oooh, yeah. Someone's totally going to TAP your daughters Tony. And Tony obviously doesn't have a lot of faith in their judgement if he has to urge them to hold onto their "gifts" for as long as possible.
Again, I'm not a parent. But I HAVE parents. The thought of my parents having sex fills me with the kind of terror normally only reserved for airline turbulence. (It's a good thing they never actually had sex. Like many children of parents, I am an immaculate conception.) So I can only imagine that parents having to contemplate the thought of their children gettin' jiggy with it would be filled with a similar horror, and an urge to stick their fingers in their ears and sing "la la la la" until, oh god, make it go away.
But then I shouldn't dismiss Tony Abbott's role in promoting abstinence. Hell, every time I look at the guy, I can barely stomach the thought of breakfast, let alone doing the nasty.
OH YEAH! TAKE THAT ABBOTT! SCHA-WING! I'M ON FIRE!
So while I certainly believe Tony Abbott has a strong Christian agenda, and I'd rather have gender-reassignment surgery so I could have my balls cut off than vote for him - I find the whole issue leaves me amused, rather than angered.
But where I DO get on my femmoNazi high horse (I call her "Fancy") is in responding to comments like those from Senator George Brandis, aka Captain Misguided-At-Best. He's criticised Deputy Prime Minister Julia Gillard for giving her opinion on the virginity debate - describing her as "one-dimensional" because she "chose not to be a parent".
Now I'm not sure if George Brandis has noticed, but Julia Gillard is in fact, a woman. A woman who at some stage of her life - probably around the same age Tony Abbott's daughters are now - made the choice to lose her virginity. Sure, she's not a parent. But she can, I'm guessing, remember what it was like to be a teenage/early 20s girl faced with making the beast with two backs for the first time. She can probably say with some experience that as a woman, the best thing that you can do is be well-educated and well-informed, and be happy with your choices.
And really, that applies to everyone. It goes back to that whole "we're human beings" point I laboured over earlier. It's why Julia Gillard actually IS qualified to give an opinion, thank you very much George Brandis. Actually, I think most people would like politicians to probably butt out of issues like this altogether, but having said that, if Tony can comment, then so can Julia.
I should probably butt out as well. I guess my official position would be: you can give it up to all and sundry as far as I care, as long as you've made the decision yourself, you're safe, and you're happy with your choices. That should hold true whether you're male or female, and whether it's your first shag or your 500th.**
*Don't worry, this pity passed quickly.
**Feel free to pass this advice onto your daughters, Tony.