“It’s hard to have it all, but dammit, we want it…”: Feminist Struggles in 2012

In the season three finale of The Real Housewives of Orange County, the cast of the show discussed their struggles with being caring and sensitive and at the same time being strong, independent women. This television programme is post-feminism at it’s finest; they want it all – the high-power jobs, the money, the big houses, the kids, the husbands, the plastic surgery, the clothes – but everything they do seems to backfire on them to make them look like bimbos with too much money. Feminism seems to have lost any clout it once had as the media industry in the twenty-first century allows women to lose any sense of self-worth.

In 2011, after  a Toronto police officer stated that “women should avoid dressing like sluts in order not to be victimised”, the feminist community in Boston responded with a “Slut Walk”. However, some don’t see this as a very liberating activity, as Gail Dines states, “The organisers claim that celebrating the word “slut”, and promoting sluttishness in general, will help women achieve full autonomy over their sexuality. But the focus on “reclaiming” the word slut fails to address the real issue. The term slut is so deeply rooted in the patriarchal “madonna/whore” view of women’s sexuality that it is beyond redemption. The word is so saturated with the ideology that female sexual energy deserves punishment that trying to change its meaning is a waste of precious feminist resources.”

If sexual freedom is all women are asking for, how will they every truly “have it all”? Do women not see themselves as more than “sluts” and realise that this word is “beyond redemption”?  While the women of Orange County want to be taken seriously as business women they’re happy enough to talk about their plastic surgery and spend all their money on unnecessary fashion items;  Emmeline Pankhurst, leader of the British suffragette movement, would be turning in her grave.

The western world has this strange idea that to be a feminist you have to have to have masculine tendencies, possibly be a lesbian, and take no pride in your appearance. So to counteract this post-feminism has gone the opposite way: women are happy to call themselves “sluts”, they wear as little clothes as possible and say it’s their right, as a woman, to dress how they want, and that their gender shouldn’t play any part in people’s judgements of them.

Dictionary.com defines feminism as “the doctrine advocating social, political, and all other rights of women equal to those of men.” 

Equality. Equality is what we’re looking for. The suffragette movement wasn’t organised because women wanted to drink too much and wear what they wanted and justify it by asking “If men can do it why can’t we?” Women trapped in the sex-trafficking industry don’t want equality so they can buy bigger breasts and wear as little clothes as possible, they want equality so they can be free from being seen as nothing more than objects, so that they can know their own worth and so that others can too.

People don’t take pornography seriously any more, it isn’t seen as an issue, and not just for those of us who are old enough to realise the problems. XXX Church blogger, Cris Clapp Logan says that “Pornography has become the new normal for many of our kids.  Whenever I talk to tween and teenaged kids, they explain that pornography is ‘no big deal’; ‘everybody looks at it’.” If we want to teach our children to know their own worth, especially our daughters, we should be telling them how unrealistic and wrong pornography is. Women, from as young as possible, need to be celebrated simply for being women. Not so they think they’re better than men, but so the men who may try and mistreat them don’t allow them to ever believe that their gender makes them worthless. Every girl is beautiful, no matter what size she is, no matter what colour her hair is or if she is short or tall.

True feminism wants equality for women. It doesn’t want women degraded in pornography, it wants to stop men from thinking women owe them something, especially in the bedroom, and wants women to know that they are better than wearing as little clothes as possible; that is not feminism.

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