I am a feminist. I believe women should be paid equally as men for any jobs they are hired for. I believe women should be free to serve in the armed services and I believe women should aspire for any corporate or political office that a man can.
I think these are universal principles that anyone living in American should share. If you don’t, I think you are living in the wrong country.
This being said, I think feminism in the West lost its way in the 1970’s.
I happened to be in India at the time of the recent horrific gang rape of a student on a private bus. It was front page news. The issue of the powerlessness of women in a patriarchal society is and will be the social issue of this century.
But in America priorities were lost. Now I don’t want to make it sound like I am demeaning certain issues. I am pro choice(although against abortion personally) and support gay marriage.
But if you look at a majority of working American women of a certain generation facing sexism, wage unfairness, sexual harassment, and the glass ceiling, I bet you issues such as these would be secondary.
The feminist movement was I think at some point in the early 70’s hijacked by elites, by wealthy socialite women who didn’t care about pocketbook issues because they weren’t reliant on a wage to keep their family fed. They weren’t a sole earner for a family, a single parent perhaps or have to take jobs while running a household.
These wealthy women took on more boutique issues, more social issues that have less meaning to working people than issues relating to work itself. I am fond of the famous Ralph Nader quote disparaging this kind of “Gonad Politics” and I also feel this kind of thinking handicapped the Democratic Party somewhat in the 70’s and 80’s.
Patricia Ireland who was President of the National Association of Women (NOW) from 1991 to 2001 was bi-sexual and had a husband and a female partner. Ireland proclaimed that gay rights were part of what she was fighting for under the NOW mantle Now I’m not indulging in homophobia here. I support the same issues taken on their own What I’m saying is these issues would be better fought by gay rights organizations that’s why they exist. NOW should have stuck with workplace and paycheck equality issues. A world hunger organization shouldn’t start protesting for nuclear disarmament. Both are worthy issues but when focus is lost, the mission is lost.
In addition, kookier trains of feminist thought began to appear equating marriage with rape and being very anti-sexual in general holding up pornography as one of the main threats facing women. If you think pornography is one of the biggest threats facing women then you don’t live in reality.
On the other side of that discussion reproductive rights are a valid issue and one I support but the whole notion of “sexual equality” is a misnomer a shady way of importing liberal thoughts about dating and I think perhaps for male patriarchy to imbed the notion of promiscuity as a norm in the minds of women.
It will be interesting to see what happens in male dominated societies like Iran (where for example there are a greater percentage of female doctors per gender than male doctors) as women demand more personal freedom, a greater say in the political process and more access to economic independence. I think we could see a better model – the fully equal female with conservative dating habits intact.
In America, the issues of women’s rights is has been linked (incorrectly and to the detriment of women in my opinion) with sexual behavior. Women are different from men in that regard. Breaking it down to the animal definition, men have the need to spread themselves far and wide. This dominates male behavior not matter how civilized we are. When a woman tries to behave like a man in this way, she is playing into his hands. We do live in an overly sexualized society and I think the worst aspect of that is the increased hypersexualized expectation on women and on very young girls-which is very sick IMO!
Or maybe I’m just too conservative. I don’t know. I have conservative taste in women and maybe that motivates my thoughts. All I know is there is still much work to be done for workplace equality for women in the USA.