I have touched on this topic in previous posts; that is, my stance on feminism, and the never-ending confusion that ensues. My opinions and ideals for feminism are like a roller coaster at times. Since my last fem posts, I have learned much about feminism and post-feminism, which has enlightened me further on my stances of women’s oppression and opportunity for empowerment.
Post-feminism means we live in a society that “no longer needs feminism”. In a sense, it is a society that has accomplished what the feminist movement set out to do; equality from the system. This has been accomplished; no longer are women denied the right to vote or kept out of politics, thanks to feminism. We are no longer restricted in our career paths, we have equality of opportunity, and in pay, thanks to feminism. But, there is most certainly still oppression of women in social respect, and therefore there is still a need for feminism. This post will peer into the issues of women’s oppression through social construction, and some blatant truths that need to be faced.
It is not entirely a post-feminist era. Feminists have accomplished much from the previous movement. But new waves of feminism have lost perspective, and caused much warranted criticism for the current day movement. Criticism that runs so deep, that abolishment of the entire feminist movement has essentially been called for. I have frequently pondered this question, is feminism really needed in western society today? I have read articles, watched videos and researched this question. From this I have gathered that yes, feminism is a necessity in this “post-feminist” society. The movement needs to reorganize and establish new goals. The place of women in our society has changed, we have progressed, yet old feminist ideology and rhetoric has not. There is no pay gap between men and women, no economist will back that claim, yet many feminists still throw out this unsupported accusation. Yes, certain employees make more money based on education level, hours worked, etc etc. Statistics have shown that women tend to work less hours when compared to men, because women are usually also caretakers for children at home. Another misguided demographic for feminists is the lack of women in certain career fields. There is no restriction of women in certain fields, because that would be illegal. Psychologically speaking, it has been demonstrated time and time again that men are more efficient with spatial tasks, whereas women are more adept with verbal tasks and that can influence the choice of certain career paths; as in a man pursuing engineering and a woman pursuing teaching. This by no means demonstrates that women are being kept out of the engineering field, it means that women are not choosing to be a part of it.
Fun science fact: Differences between male and female spatial and verbal task success is believed to be a function of certain hormones action on the brain. This is supported by the fluctuation of hormones during the menstrual cycle, and the woman’s acuteness for spatial tasks during low levels of progesterone and estradiol production. Thanks science!
So, Feminism. Current day fems. Yikes. Feminism has turned into the “blame game”, who can we blame for our oppression now that we have systemic equality? Man-hating is the go-to for new wavers. Men are always to blame, since this is who we are “fighting” in this “war”, right? Those terms seem ridiculous to use in respect to this topic but that’s what new wave feminists would like you to believe. Let me ask this of the new-wave left-wing so called “fem-nazis” -spewing non-sensical hatred against all men, what does this gain? It does nothing but draw lines in the dirt, which is what true feminism has fought against. No more lines, no more boxes. But we women are boxing ourselves in, with this ideology. We are drawing the lines, we are causing the gap between sexes with this mindset.
So, if we have equality from the system where is the remaining oppression stemming from? We call them social norms. There are norms for men and women to follow, and some, if not most of these norms ensure that women stay in a place that is inferior to men in society. Why is it that there are so few women CEO’s, or women in government positions? It is a norm for a woman to find a husband, to become mothers, and for those mothers to stay at home to care for their children, while the men go out and provide for the family. I am not speaking against any woman who chooses to follow this norm, I am simply pointing out that it is a choice. Many feasible and supported issues that women face today are of our own making. If we want more political change in favor of women’s interests, like unrestricted access to birth control methods, or abortions then we need more women in government who truly understand, and to fight for that. If we want to see more women in higher positions of power, then they simply must choose to pursue that.
It is up to the individual to garner personal agency; to make decisions that break social norms that place women inferiorly to men and reinforce subservience. We are in a post-feminist society, we are no longer oppressed systemically. Yes, there are men who still objectify, sexualize, and demean women, and wish for them to stay in a place of subservience. In my experience, it is usually older men who treat women this way. Many younger generations of men seem to have some notion of perspective on the dynamics between the sexes (of course this is not the rule, just a trend in my experiences). So, what I suggest if you come across that sort of individual, the douche bag who thinks it’s still acceptable to smack a woman on the ass and tell her some derogatory sexually explicit garbage? Kick him in the balls and move on with your day.
But what needs to be faced, what should be addressed, is that women also choose to put themselves in a subservient role. Choosing to be financially dependent on another person automatically puts one in a place of submissiveness. Dependence is “the state of relying on, or being controlled by someone or something else”. Financial dependence is the ultimate sacrifice of self. You are not an independent entity, and cannot make decisions completely independent of the provider. I am not speaking against marriage or what that symbolizes, but why is it that in a marriage the man has to be the financial provider, this norm is a huge proponent to self elected oppression. Why not bring equality into your relationship? Equal parts of financial responsibility for both partners (I speak in respect to both hetero and homosexual relationships). I feel a rant coming… Financial responsibility on one party of the relationship causes undue stress on that individual, which leads to strain within the relationship. If you are telling me that you are in a financially dependent relationship and you have never, not even once, argued (more likely monumental exploding episodes of anger) over the financial status then please, enlighten me on the subject. I speak from direct experience, as I was once a financially dependent spouse with a providing husband. I can now only fully see and accept the type of stress an individual goes through to provide. I will never choose to be a financially dependent again. It takes away a piece of individuality, and puts obligations for your persons on another individual. How could you ever have a fair and mutually respectful relationship in that position? I digress, back to the topic at hand.
We must also keep in mind the intersectionality of gender and race. When people claim that all needs have been met by feminism do they consider the equality of minority women and women of color? Are they truly as equal as the white woman in society? Are they given the same opportunities? Do they face a different type of obstacle? I cannot directly speak to this, because I am not a woman of color. I am Hispanic but my skin is basically as close to transparent as it gets, which defines me as Caucasian. Its 2017, not 1952, there are no laws restricting those of color from certain opportunities. In most cases it’s quite the opposite thanks to Equal Employment Opportunity and other federally funded enactments to ensure those of color are put at the forefront of opportunity for education and employment. But legislation and policies have little impact on social mentality. There are laws to protect people of color from racial discrimination and violence, just like there are laws to protect women from being denied opportunity the same as a man, but as sexism continues to exist, so does racism, stigma and stereotypes. Yet still, I’ve met many successful people of color and wonder what miracle was bestowed upon them to make it? How did they succeed where so many failed or were kept from succeeding? Maybe it had something to do with pursuing a goal, having work ethic, taking out school loans, going to classes, studying late at night, working a shitty job to pay bills, and continually grinding and forcing their way through obstacles, oppression, sexism, racism and making it happen.
You, you are an individual. You make your own choices. You pursue whatever it is that you want, whether that be a stay-at-home mom or a US Senator. Embrace your choices, and what your choices mean. Don’t give up when you face obstacles. The world is an unfair place and all you can do is fight to change your personal circumstance, and maybe just maybe, fight to change the world around you.
9 Comments Add yours
I will politely disagree with this post as it lacks the perspective of the very issues you are arguing.
As a women who CHOSE to have children I did not then CHOOSE to have all of the child caring responsibilities placed upon my gender, as I did not choose to have that child by myself. You touch on this a bit but never fully realize the magnitude.
Yes, “fem-Nazis” as you label are not accomplishing anything and feminism in your defined sense is still very much needed, however, it is not because women can do whatever they want, and choose not to that doesn’t allow them to work in a position on par with men, it is because most are, as you stated, the primary caregivers for the children. So why IS the responsibility, the ideology, and the sacrifice geared solely towards the women?
As a society we need to recognize this. In most other nations childcare is a factor of the government and not a privatized affair; after all children are our future are they not?
As an equal member in my household with a husband who’s job doesn’t allow for this kind of thinking, I also choose to work around it, but that doesn’t make me any less capable, or the system any less gender biased.
If the child caring responsibilities could fall from the ancient ideas that “women are the light and men are the pillar” (coined by Rhacel Parrenas in her work “Children of Global Migration”) than we will see a true marriage of responsibility and sacrifice, and perhaps the fate of new feminism won’t rest solely on those who choose not to have children.
Lisa, tou-fucking-ché to your last sentence, that got me good. That is completely fair.
I hear you on all your points and understand your disagreeance completely.
You speaking to parenting, this is a norm that I have not addressed that is absolutely a point worth making. That mothers are not alone, there are fathers. You and Brandon are definitely a norm defying couple in the fact that you take equal share in child rearing. And as you’ve pointed out, I have no perspective on that. But as an outsider looking in, you and Brandon have a unique relationship and parenting dynamic that is not shared by most others. And I respect the fuck out of that. This post was quite a tricky one to get into words without having offend anyone, I was simply pointing out that there are choices we all make, and must take responsibility for these choices. The blame game needs to come to an end. And a lot of the points that feminism tries to make are either unsupported and blatantly false accusations or they lack the self awareness to see that their own decisions have landed them in a position of oppression.
I miss your tenacity and intellect Lisa. Very much. I don’t meet a lot of people in general that are able to hold there own.
My comment is a year late, so I understand a lack of response to it. Nevertheless!
Your article makes many valid points and I can agree with it almost entirely. Almost. It works off the assumption that free will exists. Controversial statement alert! Free will does not exist almost at all.
Of course women are going to “chose” their position of oppression when they have been raised to be oppressed. Young girls are raised with their ambition stamped into non-existence. They are not taught lessons of independence. Especially now when women are embracing socially constructed roles of being society’s mind slaves.
All the lessons that are enforced by parents, schools, advertising (etcetera) teach women to actively participate in their own objectification and subsequent oppression. Agenda based science (that isn’t actual science) has even been constructed to enforce messages that women are naturally the oppressed individual because it is their biological role. (I can tell you, as a woman, I am in no way a participant in the social construct of woman and this completely destroys the “science”.)
Sure! There are exceptions like myself and yourself. However, we are individuals who broke past the social construct, called bullshit on it, and got on with being a human being.
Therefore! For your article to work in the real world, we would need a society in which free will exists. And a world in which free will exists would be one in which the social construct of gender is completely obliterated.
However, that would require the removal of many systems that many people make a lot of money off of. And many people benefit from a society oppressed.
Many happy regards
A few things that need to be parsed out here. Are we specifically speaking about society in the United States and westernized countries or are you speaking globally? My comment will be addressing western society.
Secondly, I am curious as to what you mean by “society’s mind slaves”. What roles are these?
And now, a comment on your mentioning of ridding the world (obliterating) of gender, and gender being a social construct. Gender is not a social construct. It is something that a society interprets. For example, women are more feminine than men. Femininity is displayed with a variety of different behaviors. And a vast majority (not all) women display this pattern of behavior. We interpret that behavior into its meaning. But those behaviors come from our biology and all we (society) do is interpret its meaning and give it a label. The purpose of gender behavior is to ensure mating. I, as an autonomous and educated woman understand and accept this. I don’t argue against it or try to change where its meaning comes from. I make informed decisions that dictate my actions. When I wear figure fitting clothes, it’s because I am choosing to show off my figure. Why would I do this? In western society there is more than one reason to do this, for example, to demonstrate that I am higher on the ‘attractive’ hierarchy than other women. But why would I do that? To attract a mate. And now I will add this bit in, because I think it may be a point that you try to offer, is that society makes me feel that l have to wear these figure fitting clothes to please men (the patriarchy enforces this) and that I am being manipulated into this position; being a sexual object for men. It is not the patriarchy, it is not a social construct. It is a mating behavior from biology. It is my biology driving me to find a mate. And for heterosexual mating, men universally (across cultures) desire specific hip-to-waist ratios and symmetry. This is not from society, again as I stated this is found to be true cross-culturally. Therefore, my biology drives me to find a mate (for me, I am heterosexual so that would be a male mate) and to do this I display physical attributes to attract my male counterpart. And the same is on the other foot, women look for specific attributes in male mates, some of them being physical attributes. This doesn’t stem from society saying that women have to be with an attractive man, it stems from human biology and the fact that a woman needed a mate that could produce viable (healthy) offspring and was capable of protecting and providing for said offspring.
To clarify, what I am not arguing against, is that there has been abuses of these behavior patterns (gender) within society, especially in the past. For example, because it is in women’s biology to be the main caregiver to offspring (birthing, breastfeeding), women were expected to solely take on this role in society and weren’t allowed to join the workforce or pursue an education. This was (in modern society with education, government and industry) seen as an abuse/manipulation of gender role, and rightfully so. And women wanted opportunity. And through suffrage and feminism those abuses have been negated. Women have the opportunity to pursue whatever lifestyle she chooses in western society whether that involves an education, a career or motherhood. And a majority of women still choose to take on their biological role as mother and caregiver.
Human behavior stems from biology, whether it is survival or fitness (reproductive strategy). And society evolves and gives meaning to those behaviors. It would be impossible to rid the world of gender, we can change its meaning or how its interpreted, especially through time (again, going back to my example of women now being able to chose a different or additional role to motherhood).
I am also curious as to your comment about systems making money off of gender, can you dive a little deeper into this part so I can understand your understanding of it? I think we could have a good conversation about this bit.
Thank you for the comment Mikhaila. I hope we can continue the conversation.
This was an interesting read! I agree with a lot of this, but can’t really follow you all the way to the conclusion.
I would agree that the current feminist movement in most western countries is largely counter-productive, especially in the US and UK (where I live). But I don’t think we need no feminist movement, I think we need a different one, that focuses on the right issues. The real issues are not these large systemic legal and economic problems, they’re more local community and organization-level issues. It’s issues like Harvey Weinstein. Thousands of guys like that are still in positions of influence, and they’re incredibly good at avoiding the legal side of things. Usually because they have a very effective network of men (and occasionally women) working to help them bend the rules.
I don’t know if I’m especially unlucky or not, but I’ve experienced situations like those twice before. In 2 different jobs I worked at. One job was at a swimming pool, where it turned out that male owner had a secret peep hole into the women’s changing rooms, and was watching us get changed. Then secondly I worked at a nightclub during college, where women were given a raise if they were willing to flash their breasts to the owner, which many women grudgingly did. In both of these examples, there was no real way of proving what they were actually doing. The men were smart and made everything ambiguous enough so you never got clear evidence that it was done deliberately.
The version of feminism we need is one that deals with guys like that! There are some women working on that sort of thing that I do know about, and some of it is really impressive, but it just doesn’t get the same level of attention as the mainstream feminist activists who prefer to talk in very over-general terms about being oppressed.
Anyway, I’ll stop rambling. I’d love to know what your take on all of this is!
Anita, I couldn’t agree more with you that feminism is still necessary. I talk about that in a previous post, “Identifying As A Feminist” the difference in western post-feminism and the need to direct attentions to modern day issues rather than obsessing over non-existent issues or misandry.
I’m sorry to hear of your experiences, that’s appalling and saddening. I’ve experienced blatant sexism and inappropriate treatment in a few instances at work and it’s never acceptable. I hope you didn’t take anything I said as an excuse for that behavior or saying that those instances don’t matter. They surely do.
Thank you for reading and feeling compelled to comment. It’s always appreciated!
Ah yes, I see there’s another article as well! I missed that. I guess it is a bit of a complicated and nuanced issue after all. It’s hard to get all your thoughts out at once.
Oh no worries, I didn’t take you to be implying that sexual predators aren’t real or not an issue.
I’m curious though, given that pretty much all of my girl friends are much more doctrinaire feminists (who prefer the very vague and sweeping generalizations about men), do you have any ideas about how to deal with those specific issues like I mentioned, where it’s a man or group of men who’ve created a kind of ‘mini-patriarchy’ in certain workplaces.
I actually work in an HR department, so we actually try and deal with this on a daily basis (when there’s not a pandemic happening), so it is something I’m super interested in!
I mean I think the Me Too movement has really helped in making it easier for women to feel less uncomfortable and to speak up for themselves as well as reporting when necessary. It’s also made men more aware of how the actions they consider to be minor or flirtations are just not appropriate or well received. I think exactly what I write about points to some personal solutions. Standing up for yourself and the women around you is key. HR departments within progressive corporate settings (at least from my experience at the variety of companies I’ve been with) are pretty damn rigid with their sexual harassment policies and making sure people are comfortable and anonymous in reporting issues. It’s just such a complex issue it’s hard to point out one well rounded solution.
I totally agree! I definitely think the MeToo movement has improved things in that regard. Especially in terms of women’s willingness to speak up. There has been a kind of noticeable shift in the zeitgeist with that. Like everyone realized something had shifted.
A rather colorful feminist activist I was listening to described it as ‘all of the sexist guys in the corporate world woke up one day and realized for the first time in their lives, women had them by the balls’.
That would certainly be a welcome situation if it’s indeed how those guys feel, and provided it is only the sexist assholes.
I wish I knew how we extend that to cover those other men in places like that nightclub I worked at. I know a lot of women who would pay good money to have that guy by the balls! Lol.