Who are these twenty-something feminists who make their own circle skirts? Germaine and my generation have worked hard to pave the way so you DON’T have to sew, pickle, knit, bake tarts or bejewel thrifted denim jackets.
When once it was a strong feminist statement to walk into a boardroom with your purple shoulder-padded power suit, now it is cool to blog about how great you look with hairy armpits in your Vinnies thrifted pumps and home-made off the shoulder bralette.
Today’s feminists have come full circle and are willingly undertaking “home-economics” style duties such as sewing because a) they can b) it is a form of creative expression c) DIY is a cultural thing. If you can change your own tyre, why wouldn’t you make your own skirt?
I remember Germaine Greer writing a story for the Good Weekend in the 90s, calling the twenty-something-year-old feminists of the time clueless, lazy and taking feminism for granted. The controversy was typical – all the young feminists of the time, like me (hairy, bisexual, Sydney uni types) were outraged – Germaine didn’t understand – her generation had emancipated the workplace, we could walk into respected corporate jobs and succeed. Wearing a feminist badge didn’t seem as important as actually being empowered by being able to earn.
Once the body hair had been lasered off, the girl-on-girl action traded in for a bread earning husband and kids came along, most of these ’90s feminists became 4WD Inner West mums, who juggle work, school pick-ups, sex, beauty treatments, Facebook, the Bay Run, latte fixes and everything else – the idea of sewing at home, although appealing, is simply not possible. I barely have time to brush my teeth (wait, did I do that this morning?), I have to make sure the kids have brushed their teeth (and get that work presentation done by 10).
I am so empowered, that unless my life looks like Janet King’s (fictional high-flying lawyer with young twins), I have not embraced the opportunities that Sydney feminism has offered. Or is this a jaded concept of feminism?
I was disappointed to go to a recent (private) Inner West school fete and almost 80% of the cakes for sale looked like they had been bought. These busy working mums have lost sight of the empowerment that DIY homemaking has on personal creativity. “Slowing down” and baking or sewing might seem non-feminist but being stuck in the kitchen making chutney and creating can be just as inspiring as a Gail Kelly speech.
I am lucky enough to work with some amazing young feminist women who have taught me that choosing to engage in “home-making” is all part of the wonderful world of being a woman, and that making your own circle skirt only takes 20 minutes and looks hot. Things really have come full circle.
Words: Cindy Mullen