Sunday, June 25, 2006

New Feminism?

I am told that there's a conference tomorrow in London where the principal discussion will be "New Feminism". I am told that in the New Feminism women are encouraged to strip, be sexually available and even to pole dance, thereby liberating themselves from centuries of physical and sexual oppression. It is okay to wear make up, diet to the point of organ failure and have unimaginably large breast implants. It is fine to embrace traditional and cultural interpretations of femininity. It is okay to do these things because actually it all qualifies as reclamation. It turns out that women are empowered by being sexually objectified because they are CHOOSING to be objectified. They are celebrating their bodies and the sexual arousal that they provoke in men. These New Feminists are not being coerced therefore they must have agency in these situations!


And there I was, labouring under the illusion that this kind of thinking was 20th century Feminist - fearing, woman - loathing, lads' mag - type bullshit, engineered in order to fool women into staying thin, small and powerless.

This Old Feminist had been thinking that it might be great if women had complete control over their reproductive rights and could have abortion on demand, or could feel that their large or small, sagging or pointy -uppy, stretchmarked, blue-veined breasts were just fine thanks. Or could get equal pay for a good day's work and could walk home safely at any time of day or night. I thought it might be good if women could report rape without fear of being made to feel slutty or stupid or untruthful. It might be amazing and important if women didn't get raped at all. It would be nice if women's sports paid as well as men's and got the same tv coverage. It would be grand to get decent maternity rights and quite nice to see women over 7 stone on tv sometime. It might be wonderful if girl children were treated the same as boy children and not pushed into "gender appropriate" familial roles. It could be fabulous if hairy legged women were commonplace. It would be fantastic if Cunt was not a dirty word...

How did I get Feminism so wrong? Honestly, some days I feel so foolish.