The problem with feminism
Posted on April 8, 2019
There is an interesting story surrounding the patronage of Athens and it goes like this:
Under the reign of Cecrops, men and women could vote equally. Society in Athens at that time was sexually freer. This freedom was undermined when Athene and Poseidon raced for patronage of the city of Athens. While the men voted for Poseidon, the women voted for Athene.
It is time to accept that the conversation around feminism has a problem:
With the recent E.U gender equality index released it has become apparent that equality between men and women is a slow process. Progress is so slow, that the E.U gender equality index press release was aptly named progress at a snail’s pace. Yes, the #metoo movement brought gross misconduct at women to the fore, and yes, in 2015, Canadian prime minister Justin Trudeau said ‘because it’s 2015’ when asked about why he chose implemented Canada’s first gender balanced cabinet. It is 2018 and for the first time progress has started to reverse. To understand where feminism is today we need to briefly look at the past.
A Brief History: The Three Waves of Feminism:
The first wave of feminism:
Women in the late 19th and early 20th centuries realised that they must first gain political power through the ballot box. Women’s political agenda expanded to issues concerning sexual, reproductive, and economic matters. The goal of this wave was to open opportunities for women, with a focus on suffrage.
The second wave of feminism:
During World War II the role of women changed due to women needing to maintain the work that men would normally do. The second wave began in the 1960s and continued into the ’90s. It wasn’t until the 1960s and with the help from the writings of Betty Friedan that challenged the dream that was sold along with the role of women in marriage and the home.
The third wave of feminism:
Women of the third-wave feminists embraced individualism and diversity and sought to redefine what it meant to be a feminist. Beginning in the 1990s until around 2012 this is where feminism gets a little complicated. Due to the writings of Rebecca Walker’s article in 1992 started the movement of the third wave. Why it is complicated is that feminism seems to have moved into a fourth wave movement without a clear outcome from the third wave.
According to a report from the world economic forum on the ‘world gender economic gap’, it found for the first time since they began recording gender parity, parity has started going into reverse. Another theme that they noticed was that while more women were coming out of the education system the report found many industries were failing to hire, retain and promote women. In the European Gender Equality Index there were some areas where there were no improvements, like unpaid work, and in family arrangements — the so-called private sphere, where men and women have to decide on their own how they divide their responsibilities. The index also highlighted the same aforementioned findings from the world economic forum, women being better educated (in some countries) and still finding it difficult to retain high paying jobs. An issue cited is measuring gender equality, is measuring parity etc….
There are so many factors that the reports used to quantify the issue surrounding equality. One important element that can be measured is representation and what we know is for women there has been historic under-representation in politics, there has been under-representation in economic positions like boards of the largest quoted companies, on supervisory boards or on the board of directors.
So where is the problem?
In representation, while great strides has been made for women in education, with more and more women going through third level education. And yes, women have better access to health (according to the reports) and women have more money. And yet woman had most of these things during the second wave of feminism, yes they’ve improved to help create even greater freedoms now. Betty Friedan wrote about how strange the feminist movement seemed as women had more than they ever had before. And the progress in the equality for women seemed to be improving, by the numbers at least, but the numbers are not telling the whole truth.
While women are getting their third level education, more men are getting the jobs. Where it is considered better to be a woman in the Scandinavian countries, look a little closer and you see the men do the men jobs and the women do the women jobs. There seems to be this understanding that women and men look at careers differently. And yet the view of a woman is still that of the woman at home. Women spend a considerable longer time looking after the home.
So why wouldn’t companies pander to the gender stereotype of the woman at home. That’s still the consensus. Why would companies offer more money to women, when women are considered more agreeable. Why would anything change when progress is happening, at a slower rate, at least it’s happening,right? The same power structures that under-represent women have remained virtually the same, and therein lies a problem. Yes, there are more women in politics than before and yes, there are more women in the workforce. It just seems that there has been a loss of female solidarity. The #metoo has offered some hope addressing some problems still facing women, there is push back to the #metoo movement as well. There are conversations still to be had, my question? What has the third wave of feminism achieved since the second wave? In my view, feminism groups have splintered, due to many different reasons from identity politics to differing of political ideologies.
The story of Athens ended like this:
Since the women were more numerous Athene won the race. This angered the men and in their revenge the men took away the vote from the women. And with that women lost political and sexual freedoms.