Over here is a great short piece from Canada on young feminists, intersectionality and the women’s movement.
Just how overwhelming a task it would be to define “today’s feminism” hit me the other day when I read the program for the upcoming pan-Canadian young feminists’ gathering….Like the individuals who make it up, what is called the “Third Wave” of the women’s movement itself is sometimes said to lack that one unifying purpose, to be a jumble of ideologies with little consensus emerging from the chaos. The earlier waves of feminism had overarching, objective goals — the vote, sexual liberation, an end to sex discrimination in jobs and schools.The focus of the new wave is an anti-focus, as it were, the opposite of a focus. Young feminists are taking “the personal is political” slogan of the previous wave, magnifying it one-hundred-fold, and running with it. Thanks to women’s studies, to the women’s movement, to the gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgendered rights movement, to the internet and whatever else, young women’s understanding of the connections between issues is deeper.
The word of the day is intersectionality — the understanding of multiple ways of being and living that shape a person and how we experience the world, and in turn how the world treats them. The idea is that one individual can be faced with a multitude of oppressions which can’t be addressed individually any more than the person herself can be physically divided into pieces and be expected to survive.
Feministing has something on a new McDonalds ad from the states which gives women permission to be un-intellectual again (because women have never fought for the right to education, obviously, and in other parts of the world are still fighting for that, and obviously because women aren’t most of the worlds illerate peoples and usually kept to prevent them challenging social mores….).
The script goes like this:
Woman 1: (sneerily)You know I heard McDonalds is making lattes now.
Woman 2: (sneerily)McDonalds? Well that’s just…(excitedly) fantastic!
W1: Isn’t it?! Now we don’t have to listen to jazz all day long!
W2: I can start wearing heels again.
W1: Read gossip magazines! (tosses book away)
W2: Watch reality TV shows…
W1: I like television!
W2: I can’t really speak French.
W1: I don’t know where Paraguay is!
W1: I just want to show my knees sometimes too.
And whilst we’re on popular culture matters, people have been complaining about the Eastenders storyline on child sexual abuse. Seems at least 165 folks would rather it was kept a secret matter despite the BBC working with the NSPCC on creating this story. Anti-abortionists have just won the right to change your Google experience as a British Court ruled that it was anti-equality to not allow the Christian Institute to advertise their well-known anti-abortion views on a banner ad. So now people googling for abortion may get results of anti-abortion groups instead of useful material on how to access neutral support organisations. All I can say is we need to make sure pro-choice organisations know how to make the Google ranking systems keep them at the top of the search rankings – because that’s what the anti-abortion lot will be trying to do. And as Feministe asksww – “where do we complain when the information presented isn’t factual?”
In more interesting news (if it won’t distract us from showing our knees and watching reality TV) Angela Merkel wishes she was a gymnast. Not metaphorically, a real, balance beam type gymnast. Of course the press report her desire to perform feats of flexibility before her other wishes to study law and learn French. Naturally. Because you’d hate for the most powerful woman in the world (according to Forbes) who is also a trained physicist, oh yes and Chancellor of Germany, to be anything other than quite girly, obviously. And in Israel, Tzipi Livni has narrowly won the leadership of the ruling Kadima party – lets see whether a woman in the lead position in Israeli politics can make a difference.
Also in the UK there are calls for fairer Higher Education Bursaries (yes this is a feminist issue, trust me). The problem is that women tend to apply to certain Universities with larger numbers of non-traditional students and therefore are, as a group, disadvantaged by the bursary system were it is the most elite who have the most money to give away. The most elite also coincides with the most traditionally sexist, I’m afriad, and whilst huge gains have been made there are still gender disparities. Additionally most subject specific discretionary grants are also in fields with fewest women – like Mathematics, Physics and engineering for example. Additionally analysis done at the time top-up fees were introduced noted that they, over the lifecourse, would affect women more than men because of lower average earnings etc.
Yolanda Charley has been crowned Miss Navajo Nation – a competition which isn’t about swimwear, kittens or saving the world but about preserving language, traditional skills and talents, contemporary skills and being an ambassador for the tribe. This has to be welcomed as a different take on female “beauty” contests but does lead me to wonder whether there is a Master Navajo Nation too or whether the ambassadors for the tribe and those preserving tradition somehow have to be women.
And finally…..The 13th October will see new social action inspired by Suffragists. Turn up, get a sash and listen to speakers whilst simultaneously protesting about environmental issues and marking the centenial of Suffrage demonstrations.