Feminism Rules, OK! Err, Or Not Apparently…

22 October 2012

Is Feminism Still Relevant?

You might have heard – feminism is on the out. Well, according to a load of ladies Netmums spoke to anyway. Apparently, more of us gurlz feel that feminism is ‘not relevant’ (24 per cent) ‘too aggressive’ (almost a third) and ‘old fashioned’ (one in five), than ever.

In fact, so the survey says, fewer than one in ten (nine per cent) of women aged 25-29 identified with feminism at all. AT. ALL. So what has gone wrong?

At 24 I actually agree - to some extent anyway. I would (and do) call myself a feminist. There are plenty of great feminists who are still breaking down boundaries and I’m not doubting their presence is more than needed. A lot of what is written by traditional ‘feminists’ leaves me feeling so angry I want to tug on their armpit hair. In fact, there are some that I would question are feminists at all.

They’re usually the aggressive types who dictate the rules that you must abide by to be a part of the posse. Don’t shave your legs, don’t even think about waxing your pubes and, for god’s sake, don’t settle down and have children before you’ve bagged the top job – preferably from under a man’s feet.

The idea that a hierarchy appears to exist in modern feminism (which it does) mocks the very essence of the cause. And it’s pretty annoying.

What they don’t realise is that there was a time when feminists needed to be aggressive; of course there was. Women needed to act like men in order to equal them. But, to a great extent, it worked. So for me and my generation, feminism isn’t about fighting the battle but negotiating the aftermath.

We still want equal pay, an end to gender discrimination and sexism – we do. But for us sexism is less aggressive than it was. The men we’ve grown up, men our own age at least, around think of women as their equal - it’s all a normal part of the world we know. Think of us as neo-feminists.

In our world, men like shopping and buy their own exfoliator. In every relationship I’ve been in, my boyfriends have been verging on being higher maintenance than me in the grooming stakes. And cooking, and cleaning, come to mention it. They want to settle down and they’re not afraid to say it, and they don’t mind not being the boss.

To me feminism isn’t about every woman aiming for the top: it’s about choice, and freedom to make the choices we want to without facing criticism.

Waxing without being accused of ‘pandering’ to a male fantasy, being able to say that we’d quite like to raise a family instead of having a career if we want to.

I’m not by any means saying traditionally feminist issues don’t still exist – of course they do. And they are still as relevant as ever. But following the feminist movement of our older peers, which (thankfully) eliminated an awful lot of aggressive sexism, younger men have changed too – so now it’s more about picking the battles (of which I admit there are many), not waging a war, and changing the attitudes that lurk like a hangover from times gone by.

It’s more than likely that these ladies are feminists – even if they don’t admit it. Feminism is not dead, but it’s changing – which is a good thing. It’s just that many young women don’t recognise it anymore.

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