It's been far too long since my last Word of the Week.
Please excuse my tardiness. Hopefully this week's word will help bridge the
noun [mass noun]
1. the power or right to act, speak, or think as
we do have some freedom of
he talked of revoking some of
· absence of subjection to foreign domination or
he was a champion of Irish
· the power of self-determination attributed to
the will; the quality of being independent of fate or necessity.
2. the state of not being imprisoned or enslaved:
the shark thrashed its way to
· the state of being unrestricted and able to move
the shorts have a side split
for freedom of movement
· unrestricted use of something:
the dog has the freedom of
the house when we are out
Definition from the Oxford English Dictionary
But freedom is relative. In Afghanistan, women want the
freedom to speak their mind, to work, to not have to cover their hair and face
in public, to choose if and who they marry. In Australia, we legally have all
these freedoms, but some are more accessible than others. How do we decide when
we've achieved freedom?
I feel free, but that doesn't mean that I can choose to do
whatever I want with my life. There are times when my freedom has been
questioned, even here in Australia. There are people who have told me I should
quit paid work once I have children, that girls should stick to studying the
arts rather than science, or that I should expect trouble if I go out on Friday
night in a short skirt. Keeping the freedoms I enjoy means being prepared to
stand my ground against those who question my right to choose a life that is
different to what they would choose for me.
There are women in Australia who don't have the same
freedoms that I have. Girls who are not encouraged to study science or maths,
young women who are told that they were to blame for being sexually assaulted,
women who are told by their husband or family that it is their job to do unpaid
caring work because they are female. Later on, when they find that financial
dependence on a man or on welfare is a problem, they'll be told it was their
choice to spend so many years out of the paid workforce.
When freedom is relative, it is hard to come up with a list
of the freedoms that all women should have. Perhaps freedom is better described
as a scale. Women gain freedoms progressively through years of advocacy and
cultural change, but can also lose those freedoms if they are taken for granted
in a society returning to conservative norms. One of the freedoms I most
appreciate is the freedom to fight for what I have, and for what other women
should also have.
Image taken from pictures_in_the_cloud's photostream on Flickr under Creative Commons Licence