Feminism 101

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Lately I seem to have come across a number of snide comments about feminism. Many, of which, come from unexpected places, I’m not interested in ‘naming and shaming’, but statements like this really make me seethe:
"[Feminism] is one of those coined phrases that has a lot of innuendo and not much meaning...I believe men and women are different and they have different needs, therefore the concept of equal rights doesn't really sit with me..." (source Elle Macpherson, quote of the day on Isaac Likes)
Feminism doesn’t have much meaning? Equal rights don’t sit well with you?

Photo: John's Kitchen by Futurowoman
It was refreshing to open up blogger on Monday and see this wonderful post from Toni aka Little Suitcase. As far as I’m aware, Toni hasn’t set out to write a feminist piece, but her piece is what I would call ‘modern feminism’. Toni simply expresses her dismay in the Twilight character Bella as an example for young girls. Please read her piece, it’s great and I’m not going to re-create it here.

Modern feminism doesn’t always use the f word but it contains implicit feminist theory. Patriarchal caricatures of feminists (hairy armpit brigade etc) have lead many women to shy away from using the label ‘feminist’. I think that it is time to reclaim the label. Many advances for women were made under the feminist movements of the 50s, 60s and 70s. It’s time not to shy away from what these women achieved for us. One episode of Mad Men is enough to make you realise how far women have come. Feminism doesn’t mean that you can’t have a man open a door for you, that’s, in general, mostly about politeness and usually determined by who arrived at the door first, rather feminism is about:
- Equal pay for equal work (am sure Elle would live for the male model to be paid more because he is male)
- The ability to chose what you want to do and not be held back on the basis of gender (‘oh that’s no job for a girl!’)
- Not being judged on the basis of gender
- Control over your own body and life
How can you say you’re not a feminist?
PS Mia Freedman wrote a similar article in her Sunday Life Column – ‘Feminism is a word in need of a makeover’. Read the rest here.

1 comment :

  1. Nice post, good thoughts, bringing feminism back to the simple definitions of equality and choice.

    I well remember the "I am woman hear me roar" days of the feminism battle. And a battle for equality it was back in the 70s & early 80s. The downside was the man-hating tag. I was a stay-at-home mum in the 80s and was often made to feel guilty about making that choice. I was letting the side down.

    Australian society did move on. By the mid-80s I was working in a male dominated area in aviation. Whilst some of the older blokes had trouble with the idea, the younger blokes didn't. We were paid the same as the men (but I can recall when I was paid less because of my gender). Unfortunately today, that area of aviation still is under-represented by women in management. As in other industries feeling economic pinches, there seems to be a growing resistance to appointing women to executive roles if there's the slightest chance she may get pregnant and take maternity leave. This would be one of the battles for feminism today.

    Listening to some of the younger men and women today, it does sometimes feel as though we've gone backwards, disregarding feminism as of no use in today's society. Yet the statistics prove that women today are still paid less than male counterparts in so many jobs in this country. That alone is enough to keep aware, to assert our rights & to continue educating the public on what is happening.

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