Monday, 30 November 2009

Women on the march

For years it's been fashionable for women to deny they're feminists and say they don't need that sort of militancy any more, they're getting on fine without it.

I always wondered how they could be so blasé about the obvious fact that women are still second-class citizens in so many different ways.

Now it seems feminists are coming out of the woodwork again and women are no longer making light of the numerous burdens and disadvantages they have to labour under.

They are joining women's groups, going on marches, visiting feminist blogs, and are generally less willing to stay silent and pretend everything's okay.

Membership of the Fawcett Society has risen by 25% in a year, over 2000 women took part in a Reclaim the Night march in London, and the website The F-Word is getting over 110,000 hits a month. University women's groups are thriving again and half those declaring themselves feminists are under 25.

Apart from the widespread frustration that men still get the upper hand in so many areas, women are said to be increasingly sickened by the growing sexualisation of everyday life and by women's bodies once again becoming more important than their skills and abilities.

If you ask me, not before time. The only result of women scoffing at feminism has been rising complacency and arrogance among many men, who conclude that they can still happily put the little woman in her place and grab all the goodies for themselves. If they're about to be seriously challenged again by seething females, I for one can't wait.

Pic courtesy of the Fawcett Society

21 comments:

Baino said...

My you're in touch with your feminine side! You're right though, we lost the verve for a while. The worst thing about being a successful woman is that so many seem to think they need to behave like the worst of badly behaved men in order to achieve. Why we can't do it on our own terms, I'll never know.

Cinnamon said...

Glad to hear you have feminist sympathies. I went through a strongly feminist stage in my twenties, then realised that men too have issues in the gender debate and it is more about balance and communication. I think what is lacking amongst the very young women today is lack of self-respect- and if feminism helps them to regain that, I applaud it.

Nick said...

Baino - Oh, my feminine side has always been pretty strong, as you may have gathered. I don't find masculinity at all appealing. You're right about a lot of women having to act like men to get what they want in life (or feeling they have to). Unfortunately if they stay true to themselves, men all too often undervalue them.

Cinnamon - Sure, men have a lot of issues as well, but I think the issues they force on women are a lot more serious and damaging. Female self-respect is certainly lacking, ways of boosting it are sorely needed.

Suburbia said...

If only more men could see the point. Though I don't think I carry the label, I don't see why we should still suffer as second class citizens in so many areas of both the public and private sphere, thanks Nick

Nick said...

Suburbia - Indeed, in the 21st century, why are women STILL second class citizens because men are STILL keeping them down? And your own experiences are a pretty good example of what women are confronted with.

Wisewebwoman said...

The patriarchy's power has never been so strong, Nick. Look at US politics and the continuous assaults on women's rights and thus the rights of all women everywhere (I'm thinking the invasion of sovereign countries like Vietnam all the way down to Afghanistan and what happens to helpless women=collateral damage).
I am staggered at the continued objectification of women in advertising (or "assvertising" as one of my blogmates puts it). Not to mention the pressure to be skinny, even immediately after childbirth.
I won't go on.
It is heartening to see a man go to bat and recognise the subjugation.
XO
WWW

Nick said...

www - Indeed, the millions of female victims of male-inspired wars across the globe. And at the other end of the scale, all those men who barely lift a finger in the home, be it for housework, childcare or maintenance. There's still a long long way to go.

Leah said...

I am rather violently opposed to "movements" of any kind, as they tend to espouse blind ideology that kills free thought. That is why I would never call myself a feminist.

However, I am and have always been, in my own independent way, an unflagging supporter of women's rights and equality. No woman should be dependent upon a movement's popularity to champion their own self-actualization.

Leah said...

p.s. there are women victims of war, but there are also now many many women bravely serving alongside men in the military!!!

Leah said...

What I meant above is that I'm bothered when the military is characterized as "male." It is simply no longer the case. The many women in the military, from the lowest echelons all the way up to high leadership positions, would certainly take umbrage at the suggestion that national defense was the sole province of men.

And whether one supports one's national military or not, we have to admit that true "feminism" would have to make room for women to realize themselves as anything they would wish, including soldiers.

Nick said...

Leah - I agree that in principle no woman's independence should rely on a movement. And the women's movement of the sixties and seventies sometimes became very rigid and dogmatic. But I think in a very oppressive situation, it can be impossible for individuals to overcome that pressure on their own and a more collective resistance is needed.

Nick said...

Leah - Oh I know there are plenty of women in the armed forces. When I referred to male-inspired wars, I meant the mainly male politicians who start them. Though again there have been notable exceptions such as Margaret Thatcher and Golda Meir.

I agree, feminism should mean that women can do whatever they think will realise their potential, whether it be fighting on the front line or looking after the baby.

kylie said...

hmmmm
feminism has done great things i suppose and i'll take my hat off to those who achieve something for the rest of us but in my own situation i wish that feminism, combined with other societal changes, had not normalised women going to work. now that it's normal i am obliged to work as well as doing all the "traditional" womens stuff so what should have given me freedom to choose just left me with a different form of oppression.

sorry to be so bleak on this one and i recognise that it isnt always that way but it's what i think at this stage of my life

Leah said...

Nick, your point about collective resistance is really a good one, I admit.

Kylie's comment is interesting, and I have thought about that as well--hey, I'm a housewife, definitely by choice, but I always feel a little like apologizing for it or having to defend it--a sign of feeling judged--

This was a good post, very thought-provoking.

Nick said...

Kylie - I agree, feminism normalised women going to work which had negative consequences. But I think women also wanted to work (a) to show their equality with men (b) because of financial pressure from e.g. high property prices and (c) to get all those luxuries they couldn't afford otherwise.

Of course if all work was part-time, which I would like to see, a lot of the work-related problems would disappear.

Leah - True about the guilt. In fact women now feel guilty both ways - for not looking after the house and kids (or not having kids) if they're working, and for not working if they stay at home. How to get rid of that guilt, I wonder?

Rummuser said...

In India, we have swung the other way. Surprised? I can give a few instances of men being on the receiving end. I shall just give two links and leave you and your readers to decide.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Save_Indian_Family

http://www.domesticviolence.in/category/domestic-violence-against-men

Nick said...

Ramana - Interesting links. I know many men complain that violence by women against men is swept under the carpet. How true this is I don't know, but certainly violence and discrimination against women seems to be many times greater. I was startled by the Wiki estimate that in fact more men suffer domestic violence than women but are usually too embarrassed to report it. Can this really be correct? Where is the evidence?

Rummuser said...

Go to the nearest pub and ask around.

Nick said...

Ramana - I don't go in pubs very often, and for that matter I don't talk to other men very often, but I've never ever heard a man complain of being the victim of domestic violence. Maybe because they're too embarrassed, as I suggested?

Rummuser said...

Very likely. Men find it extremely embarrassing to talk about this openly but in India because of over zealous law makers, the law is so anti male and male's family that there is more misuse of the provisions than use. I personally know of cases where the families were put into very serious trouble by the wives deciding to take them to the cleaners.

Nick said...

Ramana - I don't know of any major cases of women abusing domestic violence provisions here. I think mostly they just struggle to build a new life for themselves. But I know some wives blatantly exploit divorce laws to grab huge sums of money that leave the husband quite badly off. Or so people like John Cleese maintain.