Thursday, 19 November 2009

Still on that journey

A little while ago Jadis asked a question over at Kiwiblog, which I thought I'd start to answer:
Are we there yet? Has feminism done a major part of what it intended to do – ensure women can have access to once male dominated areas? Or has the agenda of feminism (good and bad) evolved into something else?
Jadis illustrates her point, that we might be there, by reference to watching a group of women in traditional male roles; driving a fire engine, driving a digger, abseiling down a tree; and with further discussion of the equality of opportunity I think she believes women would now have if we didn't hold ourselves back. (I'm paraphrasing there, Jadis would be most welcome to clarify her thoughts in comments).

I seem to have been spending quite a bit of time in the last week or so having real life conversations with women in their 40s, 50s and 60s about The Death of Feminism. Somehow or other I've ended up talking about the fact we're not living in a post-feminist world, and they've expressed relief that there are still younger* women who realise this, because they still feel very strongly that we're not there yet. They gave some terrible (to me) examples of women taking for granted the gains hard-won by their fore-mothers, some of them not even that long ago. And the inevitable bagging of feminists that seems to be de rigeur in some circles these days. Sounds to me a lot like the "I'm not a feminist but..." sentiments I expressed myself in my late teens.

So here's my list of a few bits and pieces I reckon will signal the beginning of the end of our journey - the Not Far Now of Feminism, if you will:
  • Every parent will know how to change a nappy
  • Images of people in the media aren't altered to conform to some weird idea of perfection
  • Every woman will get a vote, just as every man does
  • Rape will be considered so rare and so shocking that there will be no question of blaming the victim
  • Advertisements would eschew stupid stereotypes and dubious claims to instead focus on honest selling of their products
  • Women are as likely as men to be mayors, nurses, teachers, counsellors, cleaners, aircraft engineers, political bloggers, or even arborists
What's on your list? Where do you think our society will be, when feminism's work is nearly done?



* I'm not really all that young now, so would be particularly interested in comments from those who are!

25 comments:

Deborah said...

Rape will be considered so rare and so shocking that there will be no question of blaming the victim

Just so.

Also, women being as likely as men to have personal wealth.

I thought the post was a triumph of form over substance: golly gosh, women can be firefighters so feminism's goals must have been achieved. It was a very narrow view of feminism.

Julie said...

Thanks Deborah, I also meant to add in:

No girl need fear genital mutilation.

I found the post confusing because on the one hand Jadis appeared to be pandering to the Kiwiblog crowd by saying Feminism is Dead, but then she kind of drew back from that a bit in parts of the post. The comment thread is predictably depressing.

Random Lurker said...

Every parent will know how to change a nappy

I think specialisation isn't a bad thing. As long as at least one of the involved adults knows how, (and the other(s) have access to youtube or ehow.com in case of an emergency) I don't see why every parent needs to have this knowledge.

(But then I've never been a parent so there's probably a good reason that I'm unaware of..)

Deborah said...

Random Lurker, the sub-text is that fathers will be just as likely to be involved in childcare as mothers are. As in direct, hands-on, daily grind childcare, not just fun and games. Lots of addies are, but a child's primary caregiver is still more likely to be a woman.

Deborah said...

Ahem... that would be "lots of daddies", not "lots of addies"

(I'll go back to trying to get a few more essays marked now...)

A Nonny Moose said...

Add to the list:

- There will be no jokes about: woman drivers, woman managers, woman ballbusters, woman sluts, nagging wives, dumb blonde, fiery red head, sultry brunette, woman on the rag, emoshunul wimmens, ticking biological clock woman, bridezilla woman, woman only interested in shopping, woman and their race, woman and chocolate, fat woman, skinny woman, ugly woman, scary seducer woman, chick flick/lit, mommy woman, insert your woman stereotype to guffaw about here.

Hugh said...

All men don't get the vote.

Julie said...

All men don't get the vote
No they don't. This is about what we want the future to be like, and part of my dream feminist world is that all men do get the vote. That's why I added it in, and didn't just leave it as "all women get to vote."

Azlemed said...

I ws just reading tvnz news and I found this article about religion.... maybe feminism will have come further when women are allowed equal participation in their own beliefs...http://tvnz.co.nz/world-news/woman-wearing-prayer-shawl-arrested-3160166/

Alison said...

Although I'm not an overly "feminine" woman, I would like positive traits and pursuits traditionally perceived as feminine to be just as acceptable for men. Feminism has succeeded to a certain extent in allowing women to have access to traditionally male domains, but not vice versa, because supposedly feminine behaviour is still undervalued. It's why I really strongly believe that feminism benefits men - many men are also damaged by the way society rejects and "disappears" femaleness and femininity.

Alison said...

Oh, and I'd like the "average" values in health science textbooks to actually be average for all humans, rather than just men. And women's bodies to appear as often as men's, rather than just to illustrate female-specific anatomy and physiology. We are not just a deviation from the male norm, and it freaks me the hell out that modern textbooks still treat us like we are.

portia said...

When "You're such a woman" is no longer an insult, even when directed at a man.

Dolan said...

When (almost exclusively) men stop blowing each other up and shooting at each other.

When a woman scores a goal in the World Cup final.

When everyone on the planet accepts that abortion is a woman’s right to choose.

When male political leaders get criticised for airbrushing their publicity photos.

When there is no gender pay gap.

When there is no ‘third world’ and there are no famines because those(mostly) men who control 95% of the world's wealth share it out a bit more.

Then we will be almost there.

Trouble said...

When it's not just girls being told that their ambitions may need to take a back seat to their family life.

I didn't listen to the whole interview, but at no point did I hear anyone say "wouldn't a better approach be to tell girls that if you want to have a spectacular career, you'll need to find a partner who is prepared to really pull his weight in the domestic department." They did mention men wanting more of a work/life balance too, but I got the impression that that meant being home in time for dinner rather than working 12 hour days.

And yes, the more people who know how to change nappies the better - imagine checking out YouTube for a how-to video with a wriggling leaky-nappied baby on one arm.

Trouble said...

When a woman scores a goal in the World Cup final.

Two women scored goals in the last World Cup final. Just not the men's final.

When women's sport gets the same recognition that men's sport does?

Dolan said...

We have women playing in the 'men's' PGA golf tour and racing Indy Cars against men. I don't see why a woman could not play in the 'men's' World Cup and score a winning goal in the world's biggest sporting event.

What a message that would send around the world...

Trouble said...

There are sports that primarily require strength and stamina, and those that are more about fine motor control and skill - I think there may always be a gap between men and women's performance in the first category so long as men are larger and stronger than women. Soccer seems to need both kinds of performance.

The difference would show at the elite end, but there's bound to be many randomly selected sportswomen who are better than randomly selected sportsmen. I don't know how well the All Whites would do against the German women's side, say.

In any case, the value society places on being big and strong, compared to clever and dextrous, is an offshoot of society's general sexism. It's not enough to say women can be as big and strong as men, although they can at an individual level; it's more important to question the assumption that big and strong is the pinnacle of physical achievement.

Dolan said...

I agree with almost all of that. The only place I differ is where I think that with football, all those attributes are assets, but you don't need all of them in one athlete. You could be fast and agile to make up for not being strong - especially if you are a striker, which fits well into my dream scenario!

Perhaps I’m dreaming. Perhaps we will be almost there when the most popular sport in the world is one in which both men and women can compete equally with and against each other...

hungrymama said...

I think we'll be well on the way when it's just as acceptable for boys to like dolls and babies and clothes and dancing and fairies as it is for girls to like trucks and trains and mud and running and climbing.

Lucy said...

No girl need fear genital mutilation.

I think it'd be nice if that applied to boys, too...

Julie said...

When we truly value the feminine in women (and men)..rather than measuring where we are by the standards set by the partriarchy. Lets shout out loud the values of gentleness, caring, nurturing etc rather than measuring progress by prescribed value.(same name different Julie btw!)

Bavardess said...

In response to Trouble, when we stop essentialising male and female - that is, assuming that the biological male will be inherently bigger and stronger than the biological female. In fact, how about when we finally let go of this reductive post-Enlightenment dichotomy of 'male or female' altogether, and accept that humanity comes in a huge variety of shapes and forms that can't be shoe-horned into a simple binary?

Anonymous said...

No girl need fear genital mutilation.
I think it'd be nice if that applied to boys, too...

I was shocked when I was pregnant over how many people believed I needed to get a boy circumcised. So women would be more likely to give him oral sex.

I've chosen to teach him how to wash instead.

Hugh said...

Of course Bavardess, if we did accept the removal of the distinction between men and women as a goal of feminism, a lot of these other goals would be impossible to measure.

Mia said...

I and my younger sister will not be wary of being sexually harrassed on our way to school and university. I won't be scared for and angry-on-behalf-of my friends who get sexually harrassed much more than I do, and in much scarier situations (one friend has had to start using a different bus stop to get home from university in the afternoons, because there are a bunch of drunk men who have been harrassing her at the other bus stop).

I will be able to feel included when I read the bible (or when I sing Christian songs at my church), it won't be all about "brothers" and "men". The same goes for the lectures and lecture notes that I get at Auckland University. None of my lecturers will use the male gender as the default gender when giving examples. I am studying Law, so that will mean no more using only males as the default when talking about lawyers, judges and lawmakers.

Women will be the lead actors in films as frequently as men are the lead characters in films (both in animation films and in adult's films). 50% of films will be directed by women (as opposed to < 15%). 50% of films will also be written by women.

Women will make up at least 40% of all levels of our Parliament in New Zealand.