Why are women scared of being called a victim? a bitch? or any other word that demonizes them? Why do women shy away from the word feminist, when at its core, is a movement for equity, not persecution. I realized recently that what the world needs (aside from many other things) is the presence of more female voices and female role models. Now, I know that may not be a role model (per se) but I am one of the many female voices coming at you from an academic background in popular culture, specifically television and gender to hopefully bring awareness to the issue of gender inequality and the facade of post-feminism. So, although it is very different from posts I usually do, I thought today I would bring you along on a little thought I developed earlier today.
My thought comes from reading through this website:
Or for a visual reference:
Today’s supposedly mediated society offers women a fierce belief that gender equality exists. According to “Woman Against Feminism” being able to take care of oneself demonstrates far more empowerment than relying on the help of others in the form of collective political action. This idea demonstrates the need for feminism, because hasn’t history shown us (for better or worse) that things are easier in a group than they are alone? But 21st Century feminism finds itself in a very interesting catch-22. The post-feminist landscape that suggests gender equality has been achieved is actively working to make feminism obsolete. But in doing so it is also perpetrating a system of political inequality that makes feminism more relevant than ever. If we all succumb to the thought of post-feminist individualism, there will be no one left to band together and create collective change. So, while many women look forward to the pseudo-independence that the fight of the women before us has given us, this is not a time to sit back. The very situation that is making feminism useful is the one that precludes it from happening. This enables sexism to thrive under the disguise of personal responsibility and free choice while simultaneously making sexism difficult for girls to name.
Fear for earning the socially debilitating label of feminist keeps many women from addressing the oppression they face every day. In some cases, this fear shows up in the form of jokes like “get back in the kitchen” where we are taught to respond, “oh that’s just boys being boys”. The fear of pushing back, being loud and unruly, fear of being labeled the “man hater” or the “bitch”, keeps us quiet. Although there is a promise of a future for young women who will have the freedom to choose, it isn’t something that will come without a fight and through the myth of choice and the push to do everything on your own is what potentially keeps women from success.
For us as a society to move forward we need to drop this “I’m okay, I’m okay” attitude and actually look at what is telling us to think and act like this. This isn’t to say that women today are cultural dupes, but to say that the space between traditional feminism and the post-feminist attitude that prevails online leaves a gaping hole in which women are to develop how they see themselves and the world around them. Highly public confrontations with sexism have poked holes in the individualized game elements of post-feminism; they highlight the contradictory messages about feminism that girls and others must investigate. Although many women are able to recognize sexism in other countries they find it hard at best to recognize it in their own lives. This isn’t to say that women need to victimize themselves. However, to say that women are not oppressed is in fact what is keeping them in the dark.
Sure Barb, maybe you want to be a caregiver while your husband is the breadwinner, but there is a clear distinction between free choice and endless justification. You have free choice to do what you want in life, but more often than not, your decision to stay home with you kids is justification for your husband position as the financial supporter. Sure, this is the practical choice given the wage gap and the way that men are automatically offered higher paying jobs than woman. But it is justification not self-choice, it is oppression not post-feminism that keeps women at home. More women need to be relentless in the fight for equality and more women need to be aware of everyday sexism. More people need to address that even though it may be harder to define, sexism is just as prevalent as ever, and in order to deconstruct these prevailing ideologies, we need to address them, own up to them and best them.
Mic Drop. 🎤
Oh and if this hasn’t fired you up enough, give this page a gander: