Sunday, 28 March 2010

Canvas article on feminism yesterday

Ages ago I did a phone interview for a Weekend Herald magazine article on feminism, which appeared in print in Canvas yesterday. I thought it wasn't available online, but Cactus Kate, who was also interviewed but not quoted (ouch), has rectified that, and supplied her email interview too. Madeleine Flannagan, of MandM, also featured, along with 2009 Women's Rights' Officer at AUSA Caroline Fergusson, Sandra Coney and a woman by the name of Emma Joyce who I must confess is unfamiliar to me.

1 comment:

Carol said...

Thanks for the link, and thanks to Cactus Kate for making it available, otherwise I'd never have seen it.

It's hard to comment easily & quickly because there's a lot of issues raised in the article... but a few thoughts that come to mind....

I was involved in the Women's Movement in late 70s-early 80s in London, so I'm not very familiar with how it played out in NZ. Some of the comments in the article seem to reflect the '2nd wave" as I experienced it, & shifts since then, fairly accurately. Others seem to, at the very least, over-generalise.

I don't think it ever was a "one-size-fits-all" movement. The exciting thing about it was that it was a grass-roots network of diverse groups and campaigns. There was quite a lot of fun and quirky individuality expressed at the time - at least on the ground, but it may not have always made it's way into the mainstream media.

Neither I nor many of the women I knew who were involved in the movement, actually participated in groups specifically for "consiousness-raising". And the CR groups that did exist were small, not some large invasion-of-the-body-snatchers type meeting as described by Emma Joyce.

It does seem like there has been a shift to more focus on "individualism" generally, and by large numbers of younger women. But I've been going off on a mental riff on individualism versus collective action, and think this whole shift is pretty complex. Individualism & cooperative action can't so easily be separated out when it comes to specific issues & actions.

Would many women have come to embrace the notion of "individualism" if it hadn't been for the concerted promotion of it by diverse areas of the media? i.e loosely working together to promote the same values rather than an organised collective action - but such a shift wouldn't have been possible if just promoted by an individual without some sort of cooperative/collective engagement.

Cactus Kate's version of feminism seems to have moved so far away from the general, even dictionary, meaning of the term, it seems to me to no longer count as feminism.

A dictionary definition usually refers to it being about wanting social, political rights for all WOMEN and/or to an organised movement. To talk about it being "a WOMAN striving to be who she wants to be" is just pure individualism - especially when whole groups of women are bagged - poor women, so-called "ugly" women, dissatisfied housewives, lesbian feminists..... etc etc.... not to mention the way such over-generalisations drains the women in those groups of THEIR individuality.

But, as I said above, this involves complex issues, and I'm glad it's been put put there for me to ponder on.