Thursday, September 6, 2012

I am a feminist!

Unlike many women, Moran is happy to admit that she is a feminist. When I was a child growing in the 1970's, being described a feminist was a positive thing. My mother was one of the few women of her generation who got a college degree in the 1950's. She always spoke about being forced by the NYC Board of Education to quit when she became pregnant with her first child. This was standard policy in the 1950's; not only couldn't women teach in NYC schools after their third month of pregnancy but they had to submit their child's birth certificate, and got their pay retroactively docked if their child was born less than six months after their final work day.

My father, a gym teacher, was one of the main advocates for allowing girls to wear pants to school. Back in the 1970's, girls could only wear skirts in Long Island schools. As the father of six daughters and the husband of a woman who never wore dresses except in extreme heat waves, my father was sympathetic to the demands of his female students and supported a dress code change. He later supported the addition of a female player in the high school football team.

I spent the early 1990's in Seattle during the height of the grunge era, leaving just before Kurt Cobain killed himself. Moran is a big fan of Courtney Love, who she credits with teaching her not to give a damn about what others thought of her. One of the best aspects of the grunge movement was that it allowed women to dress comfortably in jeans, flannel shirts, t-shirts, Converse, or Doc Martins, all of which allows great freedom of movement. Moran is not a big fan of high heels and prefers flats, which I suspect is a decision influenced by grunge. My own recollection of life in 1990's Seattle was that it was OK to take risks with my life, and that no one would judge me on how I looked.

After the end of grunge, feminism fell out of style. I cannot remember the last time that I heard a woman describe herself as a feminist. In my experience, admitting that I was a feminist was politically incorrect, like admitting that I ate red meat, didn't compost, and didn't sign Moveon.org petitions. It simply was a very indiscreet thing to confess to people who weren't close friends.

Moran openly confronts women with this refusal to admit that they are feminists. As she points out:

"When statistics come in saying that only 29 percent of American women would describe themselves as feminist - and only 42 percent of British women- I used to think, What do you think feminism IS, ladies. What part of "liberation for women" is not for you? Is it freedom to vote? The right not to be owned by the man you marry? The campaign for equal pay?...

These days, however, I am much calmer-since I realized that it's technically impossible for a woman to argue against feminism. Without feminism, you wouldn't be allowed to have a debate on a woman's p;ace in society. You'd be too busy giving birth on  the kitchen floor-biting down on a wooden spoon, so as not to distub the men's card game-before going back to hoeing the rutabaga field." (p. 75).

My questions to my readers:

  • Do you feel ashamed to describe yourself as a feminist?
  • If you are a man, do you dislike women who openly describe  themselves as feminists?
  • Why do you think there is a slightly less stigma about calling oneself a feminist in the UK?
  • What do you think IS a 21st century feminist?
Please post.



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