It’s an interesting time to be a feminist again. During the seventies there was a palpable air of excitement around issues of equality for women, when many of us were misled into thinking we had it all; then we realised the grim truth as women did not progress at the rate expected and true gender equality was eluding us, despite the legislation.
People were working around it and those of us who cried ‘foul’ and tried to pull back the wizard’s curtain were pilloried as hysterical, misguided, or lacking in humour (that last one particularly irked me as actually I am very funny-sometimes! I just couldn’t bring myself to laugh with the colleague who told me I had only got a post because the interviewer liked blondes – “It’s a joke, Jane!” Or be impressed when someone solemnly told me that pole dancing was a really good form of exercise…, although that was a bit funny but not in the way they intended!
Celebrity Abuse, BBC Femageism, Topless Women – advancing feminism?
Currently in the UK there is a wave of celebrity abuse stories breaking almost daily across the media. There is also an enthusiastic movement to encourage the removal of topless women from a national daily (and it would describe itself as a family) newspaper (see Is No More Page 3 Really Advancing Gender Equality?)
The BBC our national broadcaster is being regularly and openly chastised for its lack of older women presenters (see Miriam O’Reilly on Sexism at the BBC – Update!)
Discussions are breaking out all over the place about what it’s like to be a woman today and people are sharing not only their horrific tales of actual abuse (and much respect to them) but also their experiences of casual sexism and it’s eye opening stuff. Not to me, I have been hearing these tales for years, first in my work as a social worker with abused children and then in my work with senior women. The two things are different of course, but come from the same root: lack of respect and equality for women in a gender skewed society.
I hope it’s eye opening to those women and men who told me power is there for the taking if you really want it. Sorry, that didn’t wash with me because I didn’t want to behave like a man to get power or to forgo having children, both necessary if you wanted real success, although I am privileged to know a few women who did manage to reach the top and be true to themselves and their feminity. But they are the exceptions in every way.
I hope it’s eye opening to the politicians who will realise that creating some equalities legislation does not mean job done. You have to lead from the front and that means serious changes to Government and the machinery of government (See ‘Why David Cameron Just Doesn’t Get It‘ )
I hope it’s eye opening to senior figures in the world of work who design their businesses to help men succeed (albeit often unwittingly) who will take a look at policy, custom and practice and really get with the programme.
But most of all I hope it’s eye opening for young men and women who have an opportunity to change this. I hope they take back the word feminism and use it without self consciousness. In fact, I hope the word feminism is no longer necessary and we just have equality, true gender equality.
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Posted on October 18th, 2012 by Jane