Tuesday, February 17, 2009

What is Feminism?

What is feminism? What does this word mean to you? I gave a talk at the University of Virginia called, "Alternatives to Feminism," which was a free market, family friendly, pro-woman talk. I had the president of one of the feminist clubs come up to me afterwards and say that she had come to fight with me, but she concluded that I was, "a totally awesome feminist."

Wow. I decided years ago that I did not want anything to do with the feminist movement. My views have not changed that much. So now, I conclude I don't know what the word means.

Two other incidents suggest to me that the "old feminism" is pretty much shot. Not long ago, retired law professor and feminist philosopher Linda Hirshman declared that Obama's economic 'stimulus' package didn't do enough for women. Big yawn. No one under 55, Left or Right, cares. From the Right, I recently heard about a conservative woman whose goal is to help conservative women leaders break the glass ceiling, so that the first woman president will be a conservative. Equally Big Yawn. Young conservative women are not excited about the glass ceiling.

What do you think feminism means? And what do you think it means that we don't know what it means any more?


Eirene said...

To me, Feminism or being feminist is about equality and respect for women. Equal rights, equal pay, equal opportunity, no discrimination based on gender. Period.

I think it has always been about those basic tenets regardless of the philosophies and theories pushed by different groups, movements or generations. Naturally, the meaning would change and evolve as a woman's place or role in society changes because society--laws, customs, mores, etc.--change.

Today, more women are in the workplace than any time in history. Fifty percent of marriages end in divorce. It is socially acceptable for women to have children without a partner, and many are having or adopting children later in life without getting married. Certainly, in all of these situations a working woman deserves to be paid equally as a man for the same job and seniority and or skill level, etc.
Also, shouldn't a woman be afforded the same opportunities--jobs, housing, education as a man so that she can support herself, aid her family or raise a child? If you answered yes, you believe in feminism.

Edith OSB said...

I would be very interested in reading your talk, if you'd be willing to share the text. (Our college does get some good speakers - but we're far off the beaten track, and hearing or reading your presentation would be a treat.) Peace, Sister Edith