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?

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Replies to This Discussion

I don't even know where to begin. I see inequality and attitudes of men that support that inequality every single day in my life, around me, in the media, etc that are completely opposite of everything you are trying to argue.

"One man mentioned that he does not tell his wife how dangerous his job his, how many of his co-workers have been killed, in order not to worry her. No doubt, though, he is not doing as much housework as he should."

First of all, not telling your wife what you do or how dangerous it is sounds pretty sexist to me. "Them wimins best not be troubled with all that worryin stuff." - just keep her ignorant and in the dark to "protect her". Lol.

Then on top of that you imply that a male at war, killing other people, leaving his family at home or supporting that system as part of the patriarchal system is somehow more important or noble than whatever his wife is doing whether that be giving birth, raising children, caring for their family, working 12 hours a day and supporting their family, doing dishes, at war, or anything at all, whatever it is.
Interesting thoughts.  "not telling your wife what you do or how dangerous it is sounds pretty sexist to me".  Of course, that makes me wonder what you think of Sergeant Terris Dewalt-Johnson:
"Not long after arriving in Iraq, Terris, who, at 35, had been in the army for 14 years, was appointed Convoy Commander, leading a string of trucks along some of Iraq's most lethal highways, often at night. She suffered bomb attacks and accidents, narrowly escaping being blown up several times. She chose not to tell this fact to her husband or kids. "
...or Staff Sgt. Kimberly Fahnestock Voelz, deceased, whose husband said of her:
 “I always knew in the back of my mind that she had a dangerous job, but she never really talked about it,”

So, just how sexist do you think these women were?  Come on, Oryx, let your hypocrisy shine!

Still waiting for a reply,  Mr. Oryx.

Were Sgt Terris Dewalt-Johnson and Staff Sft. Kimberly Fahnestock Voelz sexist?

Or do you simply apply different standards to men than to women?

Also, a point of clarification...


I did not imply any inequity in the division of labor.
I said: "There is a difference in the division of labor, but it is not an 'imbalance'."

It was the original poster who implied that there was inequity in the division of labor.
She said: "though there’s still an imbalance in the division of labour".

Please read more carefully in the future, and get your facts straight.

I agree that the objectification of women has risen since the 70s. There is a great book 'Female Chauvinist Pigs' that talks about how women have been co-opted into their own objectification by raunch culture. I highly recommend that book.

I think it's hard to narrow down the issues for today's feminists, partly because the problems of the 70s are still around and partly because feminism is broadening its scope to include the voices of marginalised groups whose issues have largely been ignored by white, middle-class, heterosexual, cis-gendered notions of feminism.

Thanks for the steer on the book EWQ - I've not heard of raunch culture before, but it's a great term. Found a second-hand copy on Amazon and looking forward to reading it.

PS Just thought of a couple of other issues feminism could be addressing - (1) women's rights under islam and (2) access to contraception in poorer nations.

Islamic women's groups are dealing with women's rights under Islam. For outsiders to try to take over the conversation smacks of the derailing that some men are doing in this group now. As feminists we can support Islamic women's groups and women's groups in Islamic countries that may or may not be Islamic in nature.

Given the efforts of the Republican party in the USA to try to take away the funding of Planned Parenthood I'd say that there are issues of contraception and reproductive rights in developed nations as well as poorer nations.
Totally agree. I have no compulsion to slow our own process in order to let the rest of the world catch up. Yes, we can support them, but their value system resides in a different century, and that will only change when they want it to change.
Typically arrogant of you to assume that only Feminists are concerned with the fair treatment of women, and that those who oppose Feminism oppose equality.  Search this post (http://pz.rawa.org/pz-gb/index.php?page=95&language=english&...), and you will find a comment I made in support of women's participation in the new government that was being formed in Afghanistan.  I made this comment 10 years ago, and my opinions have not shifted since then.
As an Equalist, I support equal opportunities for all people, regardless of gender, race, or religious affiliation.  These are similar ideals to those espoused by Feminists, with the exception that Equalists also apply them to men.

Regarding the Republican Part in USA, I oppose all of their attempts to rescind women's rights.  It is important to note, however, in a discussion of "How far we have come", that the issues have shifted from attainment of rights, to retainment of rights.
In reality there isn't much that most of us can do for women in those other countries. Idealogically I don't see how it compromises women's rights here to pay attention to situations that are much worse. I'm sure the women who are in danger of honor killing and FGM really appreciate Western feminists' sensitivity about not derailing the conversation.

I will comment on your topic, directly.

I read Feminist blogs frequently, and the major battles discussed these days appear to be in-fighting.  You touched briefly in this in your comment regarding fashions.  Is dressing sexy an affirmation of a woman's power, or is it acceding to objectification?  Witness the infamous dispute between Jessica Valenti and Ann Althouse, regarding a picture of Valenti where Althouse considered her to be featuring her bust too prominently.

From an outsider's perspective, when a group or movement begins to squabble over such minor details, or begins to splinter along such lines, it is a sign that there remain no significant major issues around which they can unify.  If Feminism were still fighting the same battles as the sixties, or the seventies, these divisions of opinion would not be under dispute.

I suspect you're right to some extent, Bruce. Maybe too much of our energy is being squandered in in-fighting, but I disagree with your conclusion that it's an indication there are no significant major issues around which to unify. Feminism is a broad "church" - it has always and will always be rife with arguments and dissension. That's as true of the sixties and seventies as it is of today.




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