• Kristin Perissinotto

What's so radical about equality and fairness?

I have a shaved head, two pairs of Doc Martens (!!), I don't shave my armpits, and I'm a ~known feminist,~ so by 1980's standards, I'm as fucking radical as they come. Radical in the political sense that is. I'm not particularly radical in the sense of the word usually shortened to 'rad,' and mostly used by Millennials older than me (respectfully), and dads in teen movies trying to seem cool.

And while I don't turn away from the term or label of radical feminist or radical progressive, it does pose the question of what constitutes radicalism. Is it radical to be a feminist in 2022? I'm more alarmed by people (particularly women) who reject the term. In my mind, a woman who is not a feminist is the radical. The idea that one doesn't feel the inequality between genders, or worse, doesn't care? Now that is radical.

In my mind, the most radical act in Australia in the post-pandemic era is to claim to be 'uninterested in politics.' It is my personal opinion that it's our duty as human beings in a society to care about our community and do what we can to create and foster an equal and fair environment, but I'm not so naive as to think this is the way everyone thinks. But post- the black summer bushfires and almost two years in a pandemic, it's impossible to ignore what's happening in our country.

To watch our country's most wealthy get even richer, to watch small businesses come under immense financial strain, some not making it out the other side, to watch supermarket shelves empty due to frenzied (and/or selfish) panic-buying or serious supply-chain issues, and still express that one is 'not political'. To watch perfectly healthy people with no access to vaccines become seriously ill with the virus, to watch our country's leaders do little or nothing to condemn anti-vax events that break health orders, and claim that politics is something it is perfectly fine to be 'not interested in. That is radical.

Having the privilege to ignore democracy crumbling in the US with a flap of the hand and an airy "well it doesn't affect us here," and ignore the true human rights violations happening in on and off-shore detention centres even when it's not in the news. That is radical. It is radical to place a vote in the interest of your personal tax breaks and at the expense of sorely-needed community services and policies that will make a genuine change in the lives of marginal groups. It's radical to be part of the 1% and pay less tax than a median income earner. It's radical to want more money than you could ever spend in the same community where people are hungry and houseless, one payday away from eviction, or trapped in an unsafe home.

It's radical to hear multiple allegations of harassment, abuse, and assault in Parliament House and not want to change the government. It's radical to believe that it's acceptable to have a country made up of 20% people of colour, 51% women, 40% working class, 33% identifying in a sexual or gender minority, and 18% people with a disability, it is radical to accept a federal government made up largely of white, middle-aged, upper-middle-class, able-bodied male lawyers.

I'm happy to be labelled a radical. If it means someone has identified me as being outspoken with my beliefs which I stand by to my very core, then it's something to be proud of. But I refuse to believe any of my ideals are truly radical. A fair and equitable society is not a radical dream. The rich paying more tax than the working class is not a radical idea. Access to proper healthcare is not a radical idea.

It's not radical to think of someone other than yourself when voting, when buying goods and services, when determining your place in the world, belief systems and values. It's not radical to push for progress. It's radical to expect the world to stay the same.