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?
Which begs the question, Why Now?
Because they are losing their younger demographic. Young women today are more likely to hold egalitarian views on gender and civil rights, at odds with a one-sided feminist agenda.
I see how this dilution effect can account for a great deal of the differences among feminists. I think a lot of it also stems from the male centric culture's brain washing of the last generation. Many more women today have internalized misogynist culture and suppress themselves. I never imagined how far objectification of women would go. It is the major reason I no longer watch television, except for public broadcasting. The men in charge of advertising are either clueless or radical misogynists not to see how offensive some of their ads are.
Do you think this is just a rough spot that we'll get over when the next generation comes of age? I mean, there are more women getting college degrees now than in the past. Perhaps as these women go out job seeking they will become angry about the discrimination and wage gap and become active in the fight.
Sushi Q - right on!
[...] Many more women today have internalized misogynist culture [...]
That's an interesting point. 6000 years ago, the knowledge of paternity begath patriarchy and female subjugation, 2000 years ago, Christianity enshrined patriarchy, today, the science of marketing accomplished the third great leap of patriarchy :)
The Southern Baptist Convention and the Moron (that was a real typo) Moral Majority come to mind, yes. These things swing back and forth, many times. I see the current role of feminism more as a holding action, rather than a progressive force, and should be more intent on opposing the reverse swing of the conservatives, in the current political climate.
It's like feminists are seen as pushing even further into the loony fringes of the liberal side. I think they should be holding harder in the center, where moderates will take them more seriously.