Tuesday, 11 March 2014

What does feminism look like in 2014?

Jane Joseph Bluegem Learning's VP gives her thoughts on modern day feminism.

"The world dictionary describes feminism as being “…a doctrine or movement that advocates equal rights for women…”  

As someone who is pro women’s rights I feel that, given the above description, I am entitled to call myself a feminist.  However, when I think of how feminist and feminism have been portrayed in the popular press I conjure up images of women in sensible shoes, no make-up and conservatively dressed.  The burn the bra era, although I am reliably informed that this is a myth, of radical and angry women waving banners and shouting at men for offering them a seat or holding open a door. I don’t see myself in that context and I am sure that many people who readily speak up for and are involved in equal rights for women might say the same.

As a woman who finds herself described as being part of the X generation I find myself wondering what does feminism mean for the Y generation, those people often known as Millenials born circa late 1980s to 2000?  Does feminism have any resonance for these young women or has it simply morphed into something else?   

Recently there was a great deal of hoopla in the press because of Miley Cyrus and her ‘twerking’ antics at the VMAs.  I didn’t watch the programme but couldn’t escape the numerous re-runs of Cyrus and her now infamous foam finger.  Personally I wasn’t shocked or upset by what Cyrus did; I had more of an emotional response to married Robin Thicke who was on the receiving end, so to speak, of the Cyrus twerk.  Miley Cyrus when interviewed about her behaviour referred to herself as a feminist.  So hence the question ‘what does feminism look like in 2014’?  

 If Cyrus decides to twerk her way to the top of the charts is that not simply her prerogative? In a Guardian article, 25th February 2014, Skin from the 90s rock group Skunk Anansie asks where the young pop feminists are and talks about young female pop stars being both “pimp and prostitute”.    A little harsh, maybe, but I ask myself is this the new face of feminism?  Young women who feel unabashed and ready to express themselves in whichever format they see fit.  Young women who make no apology for themselves and expect that they should be respected for who they are and not for what society suggests or dictates that they should be.

I am not saying that capitalising on your sexuality is what modern day feminism has transformed into especially when there are other examples of young women making it on their own terms.  Generation Y women like Jessica Ennis-Hill who worked her way to a gold medal in the 2012 Olympics and Jenny Jones snowboarding her way to an Olympic bronze in Sochi.  However, I do think that apart from being Millenials these women have other things in common.  They have all worked hard in order to take their chosen professions to levels where they are all successfully making their own way on their own terms.
When all is said and done isn’t that what we want from Feminism in 2014, giving women the choice to conform or not, as they see fit and to not being judged in any way differently than a man would in a similar context?

Just food for though, personally, I’m still making up my mind!"

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