Brief thoughts on feminism prompted by a friend who is doing a project. Her question was whether feminism is still necessary in 2011.
I believe that, indeed, feminism is still relevant and necessary today. I think the concept itself is extremely complex and eludes facile categorization or sweeping generalizations, but essentially it represents the amelioration of women’s status in all aspects of society. There is no easy way to define that, which is why feminism has gone through many phases, undertaken various projects, and had mixed results. I just read this article by the daughter of Alice Walker (http://ow.ly/7NDje), and I think she is totally right in repudiating her mother’s behaviour, and is in no way less feminist for it. It means that there is lots more work to be done and more boundaries to be shifted.
Personally, I think feminism should imply a shift in men’s roles corresponding to the change in those of women. If we believe women are ineffectual at work, and that men are naturally incompetent in terms of family and nurturing, we are being sexist on two counts. We cannot expect for female feminism alone to make the world better: that leads to a worldview that demonizes men and traditional femininity. Instead, let’s redefine gender roles to make them more harmonious, less abusive, and less stacked one way or another in terms of power. Let’s also let people decide for themselves what they want (whether it be women who are maternal or who prefer to devote all their time to a career, or men who are stay-at-home fathers or who hold more traditional roles), all the while with an attentive and critical attitude towards the decisions we make and the realities we live. Ideally, feminism should be a process of creating a more equal and just world; it should change with the times as it changes them.
Interesting to see where I am with this at this moment. It’s changed a lot over the years and expect for it to continue to do so. Wonder how it’ll change over time.