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

"Briefly Bruce as I do not have the time to type the book that it would take to get into these issues properly"
Fine, because I have not the time to read your response.  As a matter of fact, I stopped with the ridiculous assertion that "Feminists are people who believe that women can be liberated while we’re living under capitalism", which is so absurd, prima facie, that it absolves me of any responsibility to consider your further opinions.
Nope, Bruce. NGOs and studies have repeatedly found that women in poverty are more likely than men to spend any aid money on their family. Far from being a misapplication of effort and resources, focusing on women actually lifts a population out of poverty. http://blogs.wsj.com/ideas-market/2011/01/27/the-gender-of-money/

The education of girls in third world countries leads to later marriage, fewer better nourished and healthier children, more educated children in the next generation and a better prepared workforce.

Educating women does not just lift women out of poverty, it saves their families from poverty and spurs economic growth in a country.

What's more, poverty disproportionately affects women so focusing on women isn't some form of sexism, it's applying resources where they are most needed and can do the most good.
I've seen similar in economics books that my roommate has.  There was some money lender in India who was doing exactly this, with amazing results.  While it doesn't completely invalidate Bruce's point that women are one group among many that suffers, it's a damned good argument for helping them out of the hole first.
Nope what?
I would not argue against any of those points, (except possibly the first, simply because it smacks of feminist hyperbole...).

My point was that focusing efforts on women not only does a gross disservice to the millions of men that are also disadvantaged (one absolutely grotesque example is the decision by aid groups not to distribute any food or care packages to men following the Haiti earthquake), but will ultimately be insufficient on its own to accomplish the goal of creating equality of opportunity for women.  When enough opportunity exists for all, then all will have opportunity.  The feminist agenda of assisting only women in 3rd World countries may actually work against them by (rightly) giving rise to feeling of favoritism among the populace.
Actually, I take issue with your final statement as well.  It is hard to support the thesis that "poverty disproportionately affects women" when, in fact, 75% of homeless people are male.
I think feminism is going through the same problems as any other pressure groups, such as unions, environmentalists, etc. A social group starts off with a core membership of people united in order to achieve results upon agreement on a problem. Trough our illusion of democratic strength, we 'grow' the membership to so many people that the original ideals get diluted. Then backlashers join and further destroy the initial objectives. Til we're left with groups and words which no longer have any meaning whatsoever, like Sarah Palin calling herself a feminist (rollseyes). Feminism achieve some degree of success in past decades, but it's been downhill for a while, not only in body objectification (especially now that everything is airbrushed) but in many other areas as well. Even in my homeland paradise of women's lib marriage is on the up. :(
My point is that yes, as Sandy says, Feminism is a broad "church", and has always had arguments and dissension.  But historically it also had major issues such as suffrage, employment opportunities, education opportunities, etc, around which those who disagreed on less substantial issues could unite.  The major Feminist objectives were all achieved 20 or 30 years ago, back in the 70's and early 80's.  Now you see Feminist agendas branching out to other "marginalized" groups, as well as making a greater effort to be more inclusive of minority women, in an attempt to maintain its relevancy and procure interest and funding for its organizations.
No, feminism is engaging with women from marginalised groups because they are a part of feminism that was unfairly ignored in the past.

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 :)

  • I think a lot of it also stems from the male centric culture's brain washing of the last generation.

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.




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