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.