06 November 2009

Women Unbound: Start-Off Meme

The Women Unbound Reading Challenge is starting off with a meme. (By the way: there are a bunch of great buttons and I plan to try to use them all!)

1. What does feminism mean to you? Does it have to do with the work sphere? The social sphere? How you dress? How you act?

To me feminism has always been about equality: equality everywhere (socially, at home, in the workplace) and of all kinds (respect, opportunity, pay).

2. Do you consider yourself a feminist? Why or why not?

Yes because I believe in women's rights and equality.

3. What do you consider the biggest obstacle women face in the world today? Has that obstacle changed over time, or does it basically remain the same?

Hummm. Perhaps respect: respect for women's abilities, intelligence, strength, and choices. Although there have been many changes in my lifetime, men and women are not yet treated as equals. Women still do not get equal pay for equal jobs, women still do not have the same opportunities as men, women still do most of the housework and childcare tasks, and women are still damned if they do and damned if they don't in so many areas.

I also sense a feeling of complacency among younger women. It's almost as if they were living in a bubble in which women had everything they could hope for. Just because they don't remember a time when women could not have gone to an Ivy League school or when women had almost no career opportunities, doesn't mean that the sexes are now treated equally. Furthermore, just because women in the United States or in the UK or in New Zealand have made great strides, doesn't mean that women the world over have manged to keep up.

That's all I'm going to say about this. Opinions anyone?


Julie P. 11/6/09, 7:47 AM  

Very well said! I especially like that you mentioned women in other parts of the world!

Zee 11/6/09, 8:06 AM  

I too like that you mentioned women in other parts of the world. Sometimes we forget that in our own relatively comfortable lives.

Elizabeth 11/6/09, 8:28 AM  

Like your thoughts, especially regarding complacency. I definitely think that's an issue with women of my age group and younger.

Trisha 11/6/09, 9:53 AM  

I could not agree more about the complacency of the younger generation. I mean, they have the right to wear skanky clothes, be pop stars, and marry any rich man they want: who could ask for anything more, right? That may have been a bit bitter... :)

Sandy Nawrot 11/6/09, 11:54 AM  

Total agreement with you. I would mirror the previous comments before me. I love that you mention women from around the world...it isn't just about us! Would YOU want to live in the Middle East? I too get frustrated with young women who take so much for granted.

Vasilly 11/6/09, 11:56 AM  

Great job. I think you're right. Women in my age are taking so much of what we now have for granted. There's still so much that needs to be done.

Florinda 11/6/09, 1:55 PM  

You were right - our answers to the third question are very similar! And I very much agree with you about the complacency problem. One of my cohorts at the Los Angeles Moms Blog addressed that in a post today.

I'm so excited about this challenge!

Nymeth 11/6/09, 3:54 PM  

I love your answers. As we were discussing on Twitter, the complacency very much worries me too - as does the negative charge the word "feminism" seems to have these days :( Ah well...we'll say it loud and clear, and do our best to make a difference, however small.

Bernadette in Australia 11/6/09, 4:51 PM  

I don't use the word feminist to describe myself anymore. Too many people have a fixed idea of what it means to them and as soon as you use the word you've lost them - even if it might have turned out that you actually agree on many issues. I get tired of arguing semantics when what really matters is the sort of stuff you mention in your post I do talk (and act) on various issues that might loosely be called "women's" issues but I've given up belly-aching about the word.

I totally agree with you about the complacency issue with the younger generation of women. Part of me is thrilled that they have the opportunity to be complacent in such a relatively short time (my own mother had to quit work when she got married in the 60's because married women weren't allowed to have a job - we've come a long way). But part of me worries that if they take their eyes off the ball they'll start to lose some of the gains that have been made. However, I don't blame them in some ways - it's surely harder to be passionate about something that you've only read about in books than something you've experienced in person.

Aarti 11/6/09, 6:46 PM  

I am so glad you are taking part in this challenge! I'm really enjoying everyone's answers.

I do take exception to the thought that women of the younger generation are complacent, however. I think all generations feel this way about the ones that come after them :-).

I certainly don't take for granted any of the opportunities that I have. But I also think women in my generation and the ones after mine will have to navigate a LOT of complicated issues. It's great to have more rights- but it's also hard to balance work life, family life, social life. And goals in all of them. And other people's expectations of you. And your goals for yourself. And all the rest.

I don't think it's possible for girls to be complacent about that sort of thing- I know that I and all my friends struggle with those things all the time. Should I go to school to get a higher degree? What if I get married and have a family? Is it worth it? If I want to have a part-time job, will I be sacrificing any chance at advancing in my career? If I stay full-time, will I be sacrificing a good relationship with my kids? What will my husband think if I make more money than him? Should I base all my life decisions on the "what if" that I meet someone I want to marry? And that we'll have kids? And stay together forever?

It's NOT EASY for us and we're not complacent, I promise!

Sorry for the obscenely long comment! Thanks for making me think :-)

Alice Teh 11/9/09, 12:39 AM  

Well said, Beth. I live in Malaysia and I feel blessed. Generally, women are treated with respect and given god opportunities to advance in any area of their choosing. There are certainly areas for improvement but I'm happy to be a Malaysian. I'm Chinese by ethnicity but then my country has many ethnicity groups.

Tracie Yule 11/9/09, 4:24 PM  

I agree with you that the young generation has become complacent, but I wonder how much of it is about this is the life as they know it. Why would you fight for food if food is all ready on your table?

I worry about how young girl seemed to be sexualized and they seem okay with it (there goes my previous complacency statement). I don't mind that they don't care that women have the right to vote, as I care more about how they do not do anything to stop the objectification of women (they seem to encourage it).

This is a very complicated subject that can account for hours of talk and writing!

Veens 11/11/09, 4:17 AM  

Beth, YES I think that the respect thing is still a bit amiss somehow..
And yes we have become complacent and think this is as far as it can get!

But i think times are better now, for that i am happy... but there are things and attitudes that really need to change!

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