11 August 2009

Is feminism an anachronism?

I've been reading across the feminist debate the past day or two, why? Mainly because the other (political) news is boring, and I came across this debate in the Times

Now I'm sorry but I cannot address the issues of sexualisation and the influence of the rise of 'normalised porn' (lads' mags, lap dancing clubs, the internet etc) - it simply doesn't work on my level

As far as I'm concerned I'm a liberal and believe in freedom of opportunity and a broadly free market, I don't like people who want to stop consenting adults doing what they like, and nor am I interested in how society affects the behaviour of girls and if it's bad - it's of little interest to me

What does interest me is politics, if I believe in freedom I cannot believe in discrimination and gender balancing - so as long as women have an equal opportunity to succeed that's fine by me, the outcome only interests me if there clearly is an impediment based on sex, which I struggle to see

On this point Janice Turner points out, briefly:

These are truly boomtime girls, part of that first generation to beat boys at A level, outnumber them at university and often out-earn them in the workplace. A decade of national prosperity won them that feminist ideal: economic equality.

That for me, is it - that's the goal, and in my view, today, girls are no more discriminated against than boys - if anything the system is weighted towards them - I have yet to find a young woman who feels held back by their gender

It seems pretty clear that most of the issues regarding opportunity come out of those educated prior to the 80s - I know and appreciate that my mother was discriminated against and it prevented her getting very far, but she was educated in the 60s and 70s - there's very little we can do about that now, she still has over a decade left til retirement and so remains a discriminated part of the workforce

And yet still people like Harman push on with these plans and their (dodgy) stats - their plans will only 'benefit' future generations, not those people still in the workforce who did have it worse

Why can't people like her appreciate that? You won't change working habits in the over-50s, those who were denied an education in sciences and told to be secretaries - you should surely be looking at the under 30s and 40s - how are they doing? As Janice points out, it's clear to all that young women are doing pretty well, given an advantage in education, given preferential treatment in the best graduate jobs

But still they persist with their agenda - trying to balance a gender gap that still exists in the cold war, there is no study of age groups used in their publications - which show that younger single women are virtually the same as the males (if anyone would like to wade in with stats, feel free) - and yet they address the gender gap so evident in the older workers by focusing on education and university leavers...

It boggles the mind - it just seems to me that it's common sense to say, 'look at the women coming out of education today' and note that there's obviously going to be a 40-year lag on this issue

And that is also why feminism is pretty much dead - women know that their daughters are facing no real hurdles, all the barriers have gone, they did win, and now people like Janice Turner want to focus on abstract issues about sexualisation and morality - the common person has never really taken to academic debate and it's unlikely the average woman will concern herself with such theories, that's for the chattering classes, for people with too much time on their hands (like me!)

Feminism will continue to exist in academic circles, as pretty much every line of thought does - but it is no longer necessary for the masses, because it has no tangible aims, and that is why Hattie looks absolutely raving, because most women know she's at least 20 years late

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