Friday, July 27, 2007

Is Feminism Dead?

I consider myself something of a feminist sympathizer. Within the last few years, though, I've often wondered whether feminism will survive the up and coming generations -- which according to some surveys I've read of in the popular press, largely consider feminism either to be irrelevant or to be detrimental to their interests.

So, I've wondered if feminism is wounded and perhaps dying? And if so, what wounded it? Or, will kill it? Any ideas you might have about that would be greatly appreciated by me.



My opinion on this is that feminism has split into various factions just as many other causes have factionated.

Just like other splits, a few poorly thought out extremist proponents have given name of the group less than great connotations. I find the whole thing to be a bit frustrating. I wonder about rebranding so that there can be a non-tainted name for notions like: women should be allowed to learn to read, vote, and get equal pay for equal work.

I'm not sure what to do about it though. I look forward to reading other (more fully thought out) comments here.

amuirin said...

I am thinking it's just the pendulum effect.

This is sort of the Gloria Steinem backlash. It'll come around again.

Eryn Leigh said...

It's funny that you brought this up, because I was just discussing this with a friend of mine yesterday, although it is a frequent topic for me.
I can tell you, being 20 years of age, that the younger generations of women in today's society seem to think feminism is a dirty word.
All of my childhood/highschool friends save one are now married with children or children on the way.
My success with my peers tends to be measured in how well I can bake muffins from scratch, or knit baby blankets for expectant mothers.
I have found myself in relationships with older men for the past few years, as they seem to have a better understanding of what a woman's role is.
While I certainly CAN bake some kick-ass muffins, and knit any baby blanket you could dream up, I'm still a little peeved that so much effort of our prior feminist renegades seems to have been flushed.
What it accomplished, it seems, is that men everywhere are afraid to hold a door for us, in case they get hit with a purse full of bricks.
I've often considered that we didn't kill chauvinism, we killed chivalry.
A good book to pick up on this (and forgive me, I can't remember the names of the authors) is called MANIFESTA, and explores this very concept and nothing but. It's readable, and thicker than the bible. Highly recommended.

Trinifar said...

Feminism is very much alive and well. I think some people might think otherwise because of it's tremendous successes -- it's largely mainstream. That's not to say it's not without detractors or that the job is anywhere near done, but look at how differently gender issues are treated today versus, say, the 1970's in the US, Canada, and the EU. The next US president is likely to be a woman, two of the last three US Secrataries of State have been women. The chancellor of Germany (!) is a woman. No one is talking about gender being a disqualifier for any role. Women are better represented in every part of the workforce than ever before (it's not parity but it's a vast improvement). CBS news is anchored by a woman. Women's sports have expanded. Etc.

Three of the most popular blogs are feminist:

Those are great sources of information about the state of feminism today.

Trinifar said...

Few more thoughts:

Bongo Mirror makes a good point about factions. I see that as a sign of the strength and success of feminism itself. Now that it's main themes are widely excepted various groups are pushing their own more focused concerns. That's a good thing.

Erin says, "I can tell you, being 20 years of age, that the younger generations of women in today's society seem to think feminism is a dirty word." Some of them do and there is now a book written just for them by a popular feminist: Full Frontal Feminism. It got a big endorsement from Amy Richards and Jennifer Baumgardner, the authors of Manifesta: Young Women, Feminism and the Future.

To me, one of the most hopeful signs is that lots of men today are feminists, and female feminists are more than willing to accept and encourage that since it shows they understand what feminism is. It's not a movement for women, it's about equal rights and justice for everyone. Only when women are treated fairly can men be too.

decrepitoldfool said...

"Is Feminism dead?" Hell no, it's met a fate worse than death; it's become institutinalized.

A better question would be, what is Feminism for? Equality? Then advocate Humanism. Reverse discrimination? There's only one kind of discrimination, and it's wrong. Some kind of weird notion of the goddess-quality of women against the pig-quality of men? A giant government bureaucracy to decide the relative value of different careers and somehow equalize them? Eliminating gender-specific humor or pronouns? Eliminating all expression (by men) of sexual attraction?

I once worked for a guy who said; "I'm afraid to hire women - they might sue me over something." He was totally serious. If there's some "reality" of Feminism other than those perceptions, then Feminists have some public relations work to do.

I learned a long time ago it is counterproductive to demand respect.

decrepitoldfool said...

Doh! Sorry about the typo. Should be 'institutionalized'

Trinifar said...

decrepitoldfool, you're joking, right?