Vol 12, Issue 10
Lean in. Bossgirl. Bosslady. Mentoring underprivileged youth. Empowerment. Inspiration. Leadership training. He for She. Giving back. Fuck them all and here’s why.
Having been on the receiving end of well-meaning mentoring programs and similar charitable initiatives for kids from lower-SES backgrounds, I can tell you, what these programs lack in effectiveness they make up for in making recipients feel like weird charity cases.
To come into my public school and brag about your achievements like a spoilt toddler is the height of narcissism. Stop pretending you actually care and go do a charity run or whatever it is that you Beckys do.
Because if you really cared you’d have more to say about funding cuts to domestic violence services, you wouldn’t move to my suburb from Malvern and drive up my rental prices, and you wouldn’t talk down to me like some Gorman-wearing girl-Jesus.
If you really cared you would educate yourself. You’d be aware that many of the world’s women and girls have already collected themselves – they’re already doing feminist work. There are Muslim feminists, working class feminists, post-colonial feminists. Your role is not to make yourself the CEO of yet another charity, to don a burqa and write about your experience of oppression, to visit disadvantaged suburbs you have no business in to show them you too have a vagina.
No! Your role is to follow! Get in line and support what already exists. You have no place here, you are not the hero of this story. If anything, you’re the oppressor.
The best advice I’ve ever gotten came from women who were most voiceless. The Muslim Pakistani caseworker who told me if you want to do community development right in a remote village of some post-colonial country, you need to devote 10 years minimum otherwise you’re doing more harm than good. My mum who never completed high school and yet was the single-biggest advocate of education in my life. Not the hot shot lawyer mentor The Smith Family set me up with, not Hermione-fucking-Granger. My hero is my Centrelink-receiving, public housing-residing mother.
Lady – you don’t inspire or empower me, and you have nothing to offer me so please don’t sign up for that mentoring program.
What I really needed as a poor girl in my teens and early-20s was money, power, and critical awareness. Because the thing that disadvantaged women need is some of what you have: influence and cash. Your airy-fairy false positivity is precisely what is holding feminism back.
Feminism is not about you. It’s about equality. It’s about paying your taxes so I can access crisis accommodation. It’s about lobbying the Labor party to reverse Julia Gillard’s cuts to the single parenting pension back in 2012. It’s about inadequately funded Community Legal Centres and the effect that has on victims of DV. It’s about the women who sew your clothes in Bangladesh, who need allies not saviours, who can’t lean in and who look at Emma Watson and feel alienated AF.
This is the work of a JD student