I often wonder what has happened to feminism. Several incidents have brought it to mind again.
One is that my daughters want every stuffed animal and book character to be a she. Most of us naturally refer to a creature without an obvious sex as a he. For example: teddy bears. When I do that they yell “SHE” and say “She’s a goil (3 year old pronunciation). I keep forgetting and reverting to he. I have since become aware that a lot of their books have mostly male characters. Sure there are books about females like Madeline, Angelina, and more but…most of the books with animal characters feature males. What message does it give young girls when almost every animal character / stuffed animal is automatically a he? I would think they might internalize the idea that male is better. BTW, I have to change all the animal characters to shes while I read.
Another incident was a “Dispatches” episode I heard on CBC Radio (I love CBC Radio). It was about Italian TV. Apparently, almost all Italian TV shows have nearly naked women strutting around but rarely speaking. One disturbing example was of show with a woman hanging off a hook in a meat locker surrounded by Procutiio while the men commented on her behind. The “Dispatches” episode interviewed an Italian woman who became so disgusted with how women are portrayed on television that she created a documentary about it and now spends her time presenting it to young women.
So, what is happening here? I think there are many young women who don’t want to call themselves Feminists because the word has negative connotations. Yes they think we should be equal but they think we already are and that there is nothing left to do. My step-daughter debated with me that women are paid the same as men and used my job as an example. Well, yes, all teachers with the same education level and years of experience are paid the same salary. But ask the female lawyer at a big firm if she gets the same pay and if her chances for partnership are equal. Then, ask a female lawyer who has children and took some time off and has to be home to make them supper and put them to bed, does she get the same pay and opportunities?
If we were truly equal, we wouldn’t need a Dove Beauty Revolution, and we would have universal childcare, and women would really earn the same wage as men for the same work.
When I was in my early twenties I was more of an active feminist than I am now. I read Backlash by Susan Faludi and The Beauty Myth by Naomi Klein. I took Women’s Studies courses and I took Women in Literature and feminist Political Science courses. Now, I’m an activist in my mind but not in reality. I want to be on many topics, and I will be again, when my children are older.
We’ve come a long way baby, but we’re not all the way there yet. I want my daughters to feel confident about their intelligence and their appearance. I don’t want them to always think (like I have sometimes) if only I were prettier, smarter, more athletic, funnier, more successful, etc.
What has happened to feminism and what should we do?