Words from IWD: Amanda Parkinson

Amanda Parkinson spoke at the Sydney IWD picnic this year. She has kindly agreed to share her speech here for anyone who missed it or wants to enjoy it again. You can check out other speeches from the day here and here.

When I was asked to speak, I set out to explain all the political reasons I believe in feminism, but the truth is feminism for me is about something far more personal. Often we hear the stories of how young gay men and women aren’t supported by their family. But I want to start with how the future of feminism for me is being defined by the freedom of acceptance.

In 2009 I told my parents I was gay and they were both incredibly supportive, but like many gay men and women I struggled with telling my grandparents. One night I just picked up the phone and rang my 76 year old grandmother.

I said “Nan, I need to tell you something. I am gay and I am in love.” There was a slight pause before she said “Oh, I don’t care as long as you are happy.”

Next I needed to tell my grandfather but when I approached the subject Nan thought it was better I left it to her tell him. A strict military man, my grandfather can be best described as a man of few but always wise words. About 10 minutes after speaking with my Nan my mobile rang and it was my grandfather. He said, “I’ve got one thing to say to you so listen closely, the offer still stands. When you are ready, I don’t care who is at the other end of the aisle you will still be on my arm.” This simple gesture made me realise this internal conflict was one that I never needed to fight alone. I felt free.

When people find out I am gay they often say “Oh, is it just a phase?”

Or “She is a femme.”

Or the really good one “You haven’t met me, I’ll turn you straight.”

People seem threatened by the fact they can’t place me in their waffle world of stereotypes. The truth is my sexual preference doesn’t define anything but the gender of the person I am attracted to.

I am defined by my life and the people I love and those who love me back, by my actions, my passions. I am a netballer, a writer, a friend, a daughter and often a crazy cat lady. Feminism has always worked to dissolve the stereotypes that entrap women, it is important that just because we are gay feminists we don’t conform to the very ideas we are fighting.

As we move forward with the future of feminism, for me it will be defined by the freedom we have already gained and how we choose to use it in our coming battles. As economic crisis continues to loom, women will face many battles we thought were already won: the casualisation of the work force; gender stereotypes in particular; and the hyper sexualisation of women across all levels of society.

My grandparents, both in their late 70s, have watched women struggle for liberty. They have often fought along side them and now they hope that we will continue to stand for equality.

Everyday we walk around with the world in our pockets, with infinite access to the global community. In the past year we have seen movements use social media to germinate ideas and change not just their realities but alter their futures. The next question for us as feminists is how can we unite our movement?

How can we ensure the next generation of women live in a world defined by the freedom and acceptance we fought for?

One Response to “Words from IWD: Amanda Parkinson”
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  1. […] thanks to Amanda, who has featured on F before, Fran Hayes for co-ordinating, our host Eva Cox, and our wonderful speakers, collective and […]

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