Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Feminism in 2008

A board question got me thinking again. This one's about a boy dating a feminist who is also a member of the church. Well, after knowing a few of these myself (one may or may not be living in my mirror), I wanted to say a few things about feminism and its bad rapport/why it seems feminism today is stuck in a rut.

Once upon a time, women were oppressed and it was very obvious, especially since a lot (but not all, of course) of issues were citizen-based: suffrage, representation in local/national government, representation on juries, ownership of land, etc. These are easy issues; what woman would say she'd rather not be treated like a full-blown citizen? Other issues were also easy: availability of education, equal wages (which we are still working on), etc. Then suddenly, these issues weren't issues anymore. Women won their suffrage, we have Title IX, etc. But feminism kept going; the only real issue is that now, the issues didn't pertain to all women everywhere.

Current feminist issues (some fall into more than one category):

Gender: homosexuality, bisexuality and all other related issues

Women's Health and Reproduction: abortion, other forms of birth control/family planning, knowledge about how various diseases/disorders/medicines/etc affect a woman's, menopause, body image, eating disorders, reproductive organ issues, mental health, birthing/pregnancy, herbal medicine, health insurance/care, prostitution

Family: parenting, mothering, domestic abuse, marriage, homeschooling, birthing/pregnancy, breastfeeding, elder abuse, vaccinations, choice to circumsize

Professional/educational: wages, sexual harassment in the work place, promotions/opportunities for professional development, availability of education, sports/athletics, availability of jobs, presence in the military, literacy, Title IX

Violence against women: rape, other forms of sexual assault and harassment, domestic abuse, FGM

Social Issues, not mentioned above: Affirmative action, disability rights, general attitude towards women + more

And of course there are many more.

Here's where the feminist organizations break down: not all women feel the same about every issue. One of the best examples of this is abortion. Some women are pro-choice, some are pro-life. It's a gender issue, but women take both sides of that platform.
Maybe organization ABC if for issues x, y, and z and is pro-choice. Woman R is for x, y, and z, but is not pro-choice, so she won't join the organization. This happens ALL OVER THE BOARD.

What really needs to happen for women's organizations to do well is to not try to be all-encompassing.

So why do feminists get a bad rap? Well, there are so many different kinds and the loud ones get heard. I know when I was younger, I didn't think you could be a mother AND a feminist at the same time. Well, I bet there are probably a few mothers out there that disagree with that sentiment. :)

There're actually a lot of varieties of feminist. I've only recently discovered the "granola" or the "crunchy" group, as they sometimes call themselves. They're the homeschooling/anti-vaccinating/natural health care variety. For some reason you don't hear about them in school. Others are the lebsian/gay rights varieties. Others are more geared toward global issues such as sexual trafficking of women and young girls, FGM, health care, etc. There are tons more. It would be impossible to make a single organization that can address every issue out there.

Anyway, so that's my little rant. There is a place for feminism in 2008, but it really needs to come in issue-sized packages and not as one large "I'm a feminist" box.

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