Sunday, November 17, 2002


In thisWWWave Article Janet Cortese explains that feminism has become broad, unfocused, and watered-down. I don't agree with her on everything, but her conclusion is interesting, something that perhaps feminists need to meditate on a bit. Should feminism be so all-incluseive? Is it supposed to be tough and scary? Is feminism really consulting Victorian mother's manuals and becoming the codependent spouse of patriarchy by focusing on childcare and childbirth as women's issues?

Concluding section:

"Changing Women's Roles For Good
There has always been a question rumbling through the ranks of feminism that people ask, but no one has the answer to. Why is it that changes made to women's roles never seem to stick? We're not the first culture to squat over handmirrors and "discover" the female orgasm. Naomi Wolf goes through that quite well in her book "Promiscuities." We're not the first generation to have women working and making our own money. Until the 1960s, the women of ancient Egypt had more rights than we did! Why do these changes never seem to stick without major effort?

It's always assumed that there are forces outside of feminism who work to snap the rubberband back, who work against the advances we've made and unravel them. I'm proposing that, very often, feminism undoes its own advances by:

Attempts to broaden itself out to the point of evaporation, and
Attempts to define itself as "not really that scary," and hence embrace the same old crap that came before, but label it feminism.
These are serious problems. I don't know what the solutions are. But I do know that pursuing only woman-oriented goals that have to do with children is not the path. Embracing images of women who suffer instead of women who break heads is not the path. Opening our minds to the point where our brains fall out is not the path.

We are skittering backwards and calling it progress. It's not due to young teenagers wearing glitter eyeshadow and -- thunderously stupid and sexist though they are -- it's not due to Britney Spears and MTV. It's not the fault of the generation coming up, the teenagers and eary-twenty-somethings that haven't yet taken the reins of power in any way. It's the fault of the generation that's presently in the driver's seat of feminism, the generation of women who are trying to softpedal the potential impact of feminism by claiming it's about nothing more threatening than babies and breast implants and the "freedom" to stay the hell home and give up your career, the freedom to be mediocre and make the same mistakes that brought feminism to the fore fifty years ago with the publication of "The Feminine Mystique." It sickens me to see these women praising the Victorian model of Ever-Nurturing Moral Mommy To The World as if it's feminist, then turning around and blaming the next generation of teenaged girls for the fact that the advances made by women never seem to stick.

That's a polite way of saying that I'm sick of listening to 40 year old women bitching about how unenlightened today's teenaged girls are, then in their next breath talking about how motherhood should be the center of feminism becuase mothers are special sainted people with knowledge beyond the ken of mere mortals (and certainly women such as myself who have no kids and are hence classifiable as nothing but dickless men).

Feminism shouldn't be same-old-same-old. Feminism is revolutionary. And feminism is scary. Real change is always scary. And that's the way it should be."

- posted by laurie @ 11/17/2002 05:12:00 PM
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