Has anything changed since the feminist movement of the seventies, or are we still fighting the same battles?

 

In my view, it’s a mixed bag. Women in the West are generally more economically independent and have more varied career opportunities than were available 40 years ago (though most non-western women are not so fortunate). On the whole, I think women are less willing to accept sexist behaviour from their partners and expect them to pull their weight more on the domestic front (though there’s still an imbalance in the division of labour, with women taking more responsibility for housekeeping and childcare).

 

On the other hand, I feel that we’ve gone backwards when it comes to the objectification of women’s bodies. Back in the seventies we complained about things like the Miss World contest and ads with women draped over cars and motorbikes, but in retrospect that was really tame stuff compared to the commodification of the female body that goes on now. It makes me feel like a prude (and I’m not), but I feel shocked at the way women’s liberation seems to have resulted in sexual images of women being used to sell everything from shoe polish to chewing gum. And the claim is that it’s all an expression of women’s freedom. And don’t get me onto the subject of fashion – especially girls wearing cripplingly high heels and bum-hugging skirts and bare midriffs in deepest winter. And I don’t see much in the way of feminist critiques of all this, so maybe feminism’s moved on and I’m just stuck in the seventies.

 

What are the issues for todays' feminists?

Tags: feminist-challenges, feminists, seventies, sexual-objects, women

Views: 37

Replies to This Discussion

Granted, my conclusion was one of reasoning rather than research.  What do you consider the major battles today, in the Western World?  Women have pay equity.  They graduate high school and college at higher rates than men.  They have equal legal status, (which men still do not enjoy).  In every respect their opportunities seem to equal or surpass those of their male counterparts, including having the choice not to pursue career advancement, whether in the private or governmental sectors.
Bullshit. Women in western countries are still earning less than men are. Areas where women dominate are paid less than areas where men dominate. In male-dominated industries there is antagonism to women joining. Women are often paid less than men doing the same job in the same organisation. Even though women are graduating from university at a higher rate than men, their starting wages are $2000 per year less and the difference becomes greater as their careers progress. The 'choice' not to pursue career advancement is often one that the women themselves do not choose, they are simply passed over for promotion due to ingrained sexist attitudes in the workforce.

I strongly recommend you read the book 'Delusions of Gender' by Cordelia Fine before you talk about how damn 'equal' women are now.

http://www.dailytelegraph.com.au/money/womens-pay-even-further-behi...
http://www.smh.com.au/national/womens-pay-worse-than-in-1985-201003...
http://www.voanews.com/english/news/usa/US-Gender-Pay-Gap-Still-Exi...
http://www.reuters.com/article/2007/04/23/us-work-idUSN202910962007...
Not in the least bullshit.
I don't dispute for a minute any of the data you posted above.  Unfortunately you make the sophomoric mistake of assuming the disparity is due to discrimination, when it is actually due to difference in the employment choices people make.
I'm sure you will appreciate the fact that I took the time to follow and read all of the links you provided, and though I decline your invitation to spend my money on the book you reference, if you would see fit to send me a copy then I promise that I will read it.
Perhaps, in turn, you will see fit to read a few quotes that support my thesis that the disparity in earnings is due primarily to women's choices?

Women do not negotiate high salaries as earnestly as men:
"Some have suggested that women are more modest and do not negotiate their salaries the way men do.  The GAO research showed that female MBAs during their first year out of college earn $4,600 less than men with the same education and professional experience. One TV network conducted its own experiment on salary negation.
Half of the men in the experiment asked for the maximum rate.  But only a third of the women did the same."

Women who do not interrupt their careers to raise children do not experience any wage discrimination:
"In contrast to the overall trend, single, childless women in metropolitan areas -- between the ages of 22 and 30 -- earn eight percent more than men in the same category.
And Black and Hispanic women out-earn their male counterparts by an even larger margin."

Women with children choose not to pursue career advancement as much as fathers:
"The GAO research indicated that female managers who have children earn 79 percent of the salaries received by male managers with children. It has also been suggested that mothers may be less eager to move up the career ladder if doing so involves travel or long working hours."

Women tend to choose careers that are less competitive and demanding, rather than more lucratively rewarding:
"Early career choices, most prominently occupational choices, also play a role in the gender pay gap. While the choice of major is related to occupation, the relationship is not strict. For example, some mathematics majors choose to teach, while others work in business or computer science. One year after graduation, women who work in computer science, for instance, earn over 37 percent more than do women who are employed in education or administrative, clerical, or legal support occupations."

Women choose to interrupt their careers, which retards their career advancement:
"Most college-educated women who are not working full time will eventually return to the full-time labor market. On average, these women will then have lower wages than will their continuously employed counterparts, further widening the pay gap."

Men who become fathers respond by working more hours pursuing higher incomes in order to support the growing financial needs of their families:
"Indeed, men appear to spend more time at the office after becoming a father, whereas women spend considerably less time at work after becoming a mother."

WombatQueen, can you guess the source of all of the above quotes?  They were all taken from the online articles YOU cited.  Evidently, you did not read beyond the headlines.  I strongly recommend that in the future, you make an effort to actually review the research you cite.  It will save me time, and save you embarrassment.
If you could be bothered to go to your local library to read Cordelia Fine's book you would find that all of these alleged counterarguments are evidence of the patriarchal world we live in, not because women genuinely 'choose' to be poorer and underemployed.

Women do not ask for higher wages because they are less likely than their male counterparts to get the job if they do.

The lower wages of mothers is not just because they take a break from their careers (the patriarchy frowning on men taking breaks from their careers for childrearing) they are less likely to be hired in the first place if they admit they have children. http://www.businessweek.com/careers/workingparents/blog/archives/20.... They are also more likely to be overlooked for promotion than childfree co-workers and men with children.

The fact that education, administration and legal support is paid less is symptomatic of how little society values women's work. When these professions were largely male they were well paid. Also women are less likely to be considered for jobs that are traditionally considered male even when they apply from them.

You notice that all of your counterarguments contain the phrase 'would appear' or 'is suggested'. The researchers are hypothesising based on the (patriarchal) world they know. Cordelia Fine's book exposes the prejudices that these statements are based on.
Now why should I take me time to read a book you recommend, when you do not take the time to read the articles you yourself cite?
I did read the wikipedia pages on the author, and on her book.  Nothing on those pages suggests relevance to debates on choices that people make.  Only on whether those choices are innate or conditioned.

As far as your claim that "Women do not ask for higher wages because they are less likely than their male counterparts to get the job if they do.", I have cited sources for my claims (they happened to be sources supplied by you...).  If you can cite a source of this claim, I will consider it otherwise, you have pretty much exhausted your credibility already.

The fact that education, administration and legal support is paid less is symptomatic of how less stressful, less competitive, less dangerous, and more flexible those jobs are.  Again, if you have actual research to support these claims, then supply them. If they are, indeed, evidence based, then it should be possible to find that evidence freely available on a web page, rather than isolated in a single book.

If, as is most likely, you have no evidence to support your claims and they are merely your opinions, then have the decency to use the phrases 'would appear' or 'is suggested' in your future posts, so as not to confuse fact and conjecture.
All I can say about this is that if employers know they can save money, they will. So if they know they can get away with starting women out at a lower salary, or not giving them as many raises, etc, because women are used to getting paid less (because they have always been paid less) and would most likely have the same problem at most places at work, then they will pay them less.
All I can say about this is that if employers know they can get the same work out of a woman at a cheaper rate than a man, why would they not always hire a woman when given the choice?
There have been debates, conflicts and divisions from the start of feminism. If you look up feminism in the 70s you'll see that there were a number of different groups with different agendas. It's funny because no-one tars male-centric debates as meaning there are no solid issues worth fighting for. Look at any political party, trade union movement, academic field or human rights movement and you'll find conflicting opinions and healthy debate. Feminism is no different.

I've been meaning to type replies to a few posts on this site, so I won't type something up myself to answer your question for now, but suffice it to say that I completely agree with the RCP's Declaration that I'm pasting the first part of here:

 

A DECLARATION: FOR WOMEN’S LIBERATION AND THE EMANCIPATION OF ALL HUMANITY

Spin the globe. Anywhere you look women are being held down and slammed backwards.

From China…

Where baby boys are greeted by gatherings of celebration and joy.  Girl babies, by the way, bring condolences and often turn up in garbage dumps amidst mounds of stinking refuse… 1

To El Salvador…

Where women are arrested out of hospital emergency rooms if they are suspected of having had an abortion, and where their medical records have been seized by the state and even their uteruses have been used as evidence to imprison them. 2

WE NEED A REVOLUTION!

From Bangkok and Bangalore and Moldova...

Where literally millions of young women are either kidnapped, or sold by their starving families, or lured with the promises of employment and then sold across borders into a sex-slave trade on a scale never seen before in history…

To China, Vietnam and Silicon Valley, USA…

Where the labor of women in the network of global sweatshops powered the last two decades of capitalist expansion…and where these same women now return home, empty-handed and used up, cast off in the capitalist crisis.

WE NEED A REVOLUTION!

From the pockets of privilege in the suburbs…

Where middle-class girls must navigate a lifetime of mutually exclusive messages —to be sexy but to guard their “purity,” to climb the corporate ladder but to remember that the most meaningful thing they can ever do is be a mother who puts her family before all else—and where in some places a biblically rooted virginity cult has been built up, with fathers giving their daughters “purity rings” and millions taking “abstinence pledges”; and where teenage women cut and starve themselves in epidemic proportions.

To the desperate streets of the inner city…

Where among the most oppressed, a generation has been brought up in a culture that derides women as “bitches” and “ho’s,” openly exalts pimps and violence against women; where despite its boasts of “great freedoms,” the United States imprisons one-third of all women in the world who are in prison 3 ; where teenage women are led to believe that their only worth and meaning in life lies in having a child, and then they are forced to endure poverty and humiliation, and often to take desperate and degrading measures to feed their children; and where women from Mexico and other parts of Latin America risk rape, or starvation in the desert, to make it to “El Norte” so they can work endless hours to support their family back home, often being pressured into sex by immigration agents, bosses and other men who know they are vulnerable without papers.

WE NEED A REVOLUTION!

From the war-torn lands…

Where in the Congo, as in Bosnia before it, the rape of women has been a systematic part of a civil war and where tens of thousands of women and young girls have been so brutally raped that their insides are torn apart and they can no longer hold their bladders or bowels. 4

To the hearth of the family…

Whether in the U.S., where a woman is beaten by her partner every 15 seconds and three women are killed every day by possessive lovers and abusive husbands 5 …or in parts of Africa, where tradition dictates that families mutilate their own children, cutting off the genitals of pre-pubescent girls to blunt for life sexual sensation and “prepare” them for the position of a “proper and loyal wife,” never tempted to stray from her husband…or India, where hundreds, perhaps thousands, of wives are set on fire and murdered each year by husbands or in-laws once the dowry (the money paid to the groom’s family) has been paid…or all over the world, where under the sway of religious fundamentalism and backward social relations, women are killed by brothers and fathers if they “bring shame” on the family.

WE NEED A REVOLUTION!

From the “sacred vows”…

When the “queen for a day,” bride dressed in “virginal white” ritual of the wedding day—now built up into lunatic proportions in countries like the U.S.—marks the passage of a woman into what is all too often a lifetime of domestic drudgery and subordination, whether or not she also works outside the home and very often even if she has an advanced education and a position in a prestigious profession.

To the “sacred texts”…

Which in every major religion enshrine the subjugation of women through myth (Eve causing “the fall of man”), through code (the Qur’an and Shariah law of Islam that value a woman’s testimony as half that of a man and authorize a man to beat and whip his wife to keep her obedient to him), and through prayer (the Jewish prayer of a man that thanks God he was not born a woman).

WE NEED A REVOLUTION!

From the cradles…

In which no sooner is the girl-child born than she is set on a course which—in spite of the claims that, in “modern” countries like the USA, there are no limits on what girls can become—will in reality be marked by the many limitations, and degradations, imposed by society on girls and women.

To “old age”…

Where the older woman is, more often than not, cast off, disrespected, forgotten, ridiculed and devalued…

To the grave...

Women die unnecessarily: in childbirth, in unsafe abortions, denied healthcare, and without food or clean water. Women die violently: at the hands of their husbands and brothers, and fathers and in-laws, and conquering soldiers and pimps. Women die unvalued: ground up and uncounted in the most dangerous work places and war zones and nameless streets.

WE NEED A REVOLUTION—A REAL REVOLUTION—
THE MOST RADICAL AND LIBERATING REVOLUTION IN HISTORY!

The fabric of women’s oppression is carved deeply into the calloused hands of women in the sweatshops of China and Honduras. It is draped over the faces of young women in Saudi Arabia and Indonesia. It is stripped off the bodies of girls of Moldova and Bangkok who are put up for sale in brothels worldwide, and it is worn like a prize by pre-teens in the U.S. and Europe who are taught to dress and move like sex objects long before they understand what sex even is. This fabric ropes back into history, it winds its way around the globe, braided into all the dominant religions and “moral codes” and woven into every aspect of human societies. It is a heavy veil that casts the darkness of humanity’s first oppressive divisions over the lives, the dreams, and the prospects of every corner of humanity in the 21st century.

To live like this on this planet in the 21st century cannot be justified and should not be accepted. None of this can be tolerated or excused away with counsel of patience..

WE DECLARE: NO MORE!

Women need emancipation. Women need liberation from thousands of years of tradition’s chains. This is a declaration that stands on the clear recognition that for humanity as a whole to advance, half of humanity must be lifted from centuries of being condemned to being the property of men and pitilessly exploited, demeaned and degraded in a thousand ways.

Women are not breeders. Women are not lesser beings. Women are not objects created for the sexual pleasure of men. Women are human beings capable of participating fully and equally in every realm of human endeavor. When women are held down, all of humanity is held back. Women must win liberation, and they can only be liberated through the revolutionary transformation of the world and the emancipation of all of humanity, and through being a powerful motive force in that revolution.

At a time when many proclaim that finding “common ground” with religious fundamentalists is necessary, or even desirable, this declaration does not accept and will not compromise with women’s enslavement. This declaration has no patience for those who tell us to “be realistic” when what they mean is to tinker around within the horrible confines of the world as it is. This declaration calls out the moral and ideological bankruptcy of those who claim the mantle of women’s advance but mean only “getting in” on the world as it is—waging what can only be a losing and perverse battle for the “right” of women to have an equal share in running an empire, exploiting others, or even down to the humiliating level of owning and marketing their own bodies as sexual commodities.

When so few will dare, this declaration is calling for something unseen in generations: an uncompromising outpouring of women and men the world over who refuse to see women oppressed, beaten, imprisoned, insulted, raped, abused, harassed, exploited, murdered, spat upon, thrown acid at, groped, shamed and systematically diminished.

This declaration calls for a revolution—a revolution that takes the full emancipation of women as a cornerstone. A revolution that unleashes the fury of women as a mighty force, and that grasps how central this question is to uprooting and abolishing all exploitation, oppression and degrading social relations, and the ideas that go along with them, among human beings as a whole, all over the world.

This declaration is a communist declaration, summoning a revolutionary movement of emancipators of humanity.

This, and nothing less, is the challenge before us.

While there still exists a great deal of oppression of women in 3rd world countries, this is one subset of a general oppression of human beings which includes women, children, men, the poor, immigrants, etc.  No effort at eliminating the oppression of women in a 3rd World nation is going to succeed without raising that standards for the entire populace, and any effort to raise the standards for the entire populace is going to improve the lives of women.
By focusing on the plight of women only, effort and resources are divided and misapplied.  We need to export Democracy to these countries.  Not just Women's rights.
Briefly Bruce as I do not have the time to type the book that it would take to get into these issues properly, I recommend that you read the entire Declaration if you really want to get to the root of the issue. And speaking of root of the issue, I don’t label myself a feminist. I’m a communist. Feminists are people who believe that women can be liberated while we’re living under capitalism, they’re fighting a battle that can’t be won. I realize that the oppression and subjugation of women is rooted in production relations under capitalism.

Just to mention one thing that I see as a major battle here in the frontyard of the empire: I’ve heard from women here who say that when they see billboards everywhere of barely-clothed women that it strikes them about the same as it would if Black people had to endure seeing billboards everywhere of them eating watermelon or some other symbolism meant to degrade them. Conscious people do not wish for a woman’s worth to be bound up in her looks and usefulness to men, yet that is the message all too many young women get from living under capitalism in a dominant culture controlled by rich White males, even to the extent that young women who feel as if they do not live up to capitalist society’s standards of beauty or who do not wish to play the role that the dominant culture has cast them in, will often cut and starve themselves and/or become severely depressed and overeat. Regarding the mechanism the capitalist dictatorship uses to exert this type of influence on young women I encourage you to read my writings on this site regarding the “pomm.”

As for democracy heh:

“The essence of what exists in the U.S. is not democracy but capitalism-imperialism and political structures to enforce that capitalism-imperialism. What the U.S. spreads around the world is not democracy, but imperialism and political structures to enforce that imperialism.” - Bob Avakian

"In a world marked by profound class divisions and social inequality, to talk about “democracy”—without talking about the class nature of that democracy and which class it serves—is meaningless, and worse. So long as society is divided into classes, there can be no “democracy for all”: one class or another will rule, and it will uphold and promote that kind of democracy which serves its interests and goals. The question is: which class will rule and whether its rule, and its system of democracy, will serve the continuation, or the eventual abolition, of class divisions and the corresponding relations of exploitation, oppression and inequality." - Bob Avakian
I see a lot of what you mean, but I would lean towards socialism, as a cure, rather than communism.  I see the same problems with communism as did George Orwell.  Libertarianism and communism only work within very small groups.

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