Do We Need Feminism Now?

Do We Need Feminism Now?

The line was drawn in the dirt last year when modern women were asked by a mainstream news publication whether or not they were feminists enjoying the fruits of their labor. The response was shocking to "old feminists" who thought they made a lasting contribution to women with their marches and burning of bras. Something very interesting resulted from the poll, women in their twenties had feelings of unity with feminist ideas while thirty and forty-something women held on to their individuality by denying help of any sort by feminists efforts. Curious as to whether women in our survey would differ from the comments gathered by previous pollsters we set out to ask unsuspecting women their opinions regarding feminism.

    "Had it not been for the sacrificing of women in the past women today wouldn't be enjoying the freedoms we have." 22,Dominic

    I think women as a collective made alot of noise in the seventies to draw attention to our wants but it were the individuals who made the strides. Do I credit the feminist movement for my professional success?No, it was I who made the good grades to attend the best schools to get the good jobs, it was I who made personal sacrifices to move up the ladder. It was I who took the chance to create my own company. I'm not a feminist because it was I who had to do what was needed for me to be the person I am today." 38,Jessie

The question was asked in Amazon City a popular webzine, "Is feminism dead?" and the response was diverse in reasoning with more women citing to be feminists than otherwise. So the same question were asked of women in local Houston businesses and the responses were interesting to say the least.

    "The reason women overwhelmingly said they were feminists were due to the current climate of political correctness. Those same women aligning themselves with feminism are the same ones who would disgrace themselves for the sake of a job or a man. You must take the poll results lightly. Yes feminism is dead as a doorknob" 40,Tommie

    "I'm not sure what to call myself although I support equal rights and employment for women I can't stand the holier than thou attitude most feminists have towards women who don't call themselves feminists. They're so caught up in political correctness it's sickening how they assume every woman credits her freedoms to feminism.If they don't change their current mentality of them being right and everyone else wrong it'll be dead for the next generation of women" 29,Toreasa

    "Feminism is very much alive and it made it possible for women to work without some jerk forcing his perverted sexual attention on them or from being fired when a woman says no." 21,Kiki

Do feminism have too many negative images for women of today being a reason why few thirty-something women credit their success to feminism? I've spent many months talking to women of my age and I've found when they don't feel the pressure to conform to the popular belief on the topic they'll admit to feeling detached from it. Something else I found curious was how women who refer to themselves as leather spinsters responded to the same poll question.

    "The images of braless men hating women are still prevalent today and is a turn off to most women. Feminists today are trying to downplay the stereotyping of them but lets be frank their past rhetoric have been of angry braless women out to do men in". 35,Patricia

    "I don't think feminism would be suffering from the bad rap as anti-social, male-bashers if calm God-loving women had did the leading and not the irrational zealots who generally disliked men and anything masculine."40,Elizabeth

    "I don't have a problem admitting my age, I'm 75 and I'm what you'd call a spinster because I never married. I knew of the feminists but I never joined them because I knew how to make my world what I wanted it to be. You see that's something not in every woman. I worked as a engineer at a time when women thought a engineer was a man driving a train and not a woman drawing technical designs. I personally can't see how a small group of women made as big of difference as feminist would like to believe. I won't argue that point with any woman that feel they did, it's up to how you interepret feminism". 75,Bonne

    "I can't understand why I should give credit to a movement for the success I had to work so hard to obtain. For the life of me I can't think of one instance feminism came to my rescue and I've had many rough moments I could've used their "I'll kick your butt scare tactics". 38,Devlin

    "Feminism was meant to be an idea to empower individual women but instead it became a way to openly dislike men for what they thought were male priviledges.".33,Sophie

Women complained that the feminists are a temporary minded group seeking high profile situations to support rather than the everyday obstacles all women can relate. Many pollers accused feminists of turning their backs on women and not the other way around. Some went so far as to cite the Feminist Movement as having another agenda due to their excessive leanings towards lesbianism which was a turn off to some once dedicated members.

    "I once identified as a feminist but that changed when I went into the corporate scene. Twice I was passed over for promotions where were the feminists? When a former co-worker screamed sexual harassment out of the cracks and crevices came the feminists rallying to her aid. I guess there's nothing wrong with being passed over for a well-deserved promotion."45,Trude

    "Feminism failed women by being so anxious to aid a woman be she right or wrong. If they truly wanted to help women they should've been honest and truthful and a example for others to follow. Now we have intelligent women wanting to punish others for their inability to accept responsibility for their actions."51,Torrie

    "Am I homophobic? No but I don't want to lend my support to them either. I can work with lesbians. Live within the same community as them, but, I reserve my right to support their lifestyle just as they may do the same with my own as a leather spinster. The feminists movement went too far in the seventies with their support of that group and I couldn't deal with it so I left the organization".55,Dorothy

While out speaking to women about feminism I found minority women's responses to my questions regarding feminism quite fascinating. It was expressed that this movement didn't have the woman of color in mind when formed and have frequently overlooked their needs assuming they're the same as the caucasian female. Seldom do people explore the feelings of minority women and their relations with feminism and it's about time we heard what they had to say.

    "I don't relate to feminism because the women in my family have always had to fight to get ahead starting with slavery until present. The feminist movement's biggest mistake was not looking at the cultural differences of women."26,Lenna

    "I saw myself as a feminist until the Anita Hill Scandal in the early ninties. They (feminists) had nothing to do with this woman and the healing process she said she had to go through until they saw a need to prevent a black man from replacing a deceased black man on the Supreme Court. Might I add a all white Supreme Court. They said it was about another conservative being added to the Supreme Court that alarmed them but not one of the many feminist groups attacked Justice O'Connor with vengeance when she was being added to the the list of residents on the Supreme Court and she's the most conservative of them all."38,Gloria

    "Just like so many white men in power alot of white women venture to the hispanic community only when they need the extra numbers to get what they want. Afterwards you don't see them until they need the numbers again."Pilar

    "In college I joined a feminist organization and we stepped forward whenever a injustice to a woman occurred. Never did we come to the aid of a hispanic, asian, or african woman in our community. We spoke out when these women were violated in some other country, such hypocrisy."32,Huang

    "I have two questions to your one question,"am I a feminist"?Feminism was created to give outside freedoms to middle-class white women so where do non-whites fit in?How can a predominately white organization understand the isolation non-whites feel in this culture to fairly include them?"Barbara

It's not just the minorities feeling disenfranchised from feminism. Poor women expressed not feeling any bonds with the feminist agenda of both the past and present so the obvious question to ask of them is why?

"I don't know why I don't feel close to feminism, it could be it wasn't meant for the woman flipping burgers at Burger King, just the one sitting in business meetings for IBM." 25,San

"Oh it's clear why poor women don't see themselves as feminists, look at who they assist in disputes, upper middle class girls.Poor women can't put up the big bucks to support media expenses." 44,Demetrice

"I can't believe they were ever for poor women to start. Do you see them working in poor communities the way they work with women who're not hurting financially, no!Paula

"They're just dissatisfied middle class women so what do they know about not having enough to pay bills or to feed your children?I stay too busy keeping my head above water to ever call myself a feminist, I'm a survivalist."unnamed woman

Will the feminists have a strong hold with modern women as they did with the women of the sixties and seventies? I don't know, but with the women who are now in their thirties and forties I don't think so. These women had to face career and family issues for far too long by themselves. What use would these women have of feminism when they embody the experiences and confidence needed to achieve their personal level of happiness and contentment? Before feminists can ever expect these strayed women to rally to their side they must first hear them and their complaints, change the "Powers That Be" within their ranks to represent all their supporters. Poor and minority women struggling to survive in a world not friendly to the "have nots" can't afford to wait around for the "aid" of feminists. These women must stand on their own if they're to continue to survive. Feminists must come to realize they left behind whole segments of the female population, segments that needed their resources more so than the woman sitting behind a management desk in a Fortune 500 company. The way feminism was organized leads one to ask, was it intentional to overlook certain women? Based on what the respondents had to say it appears to be the case. Either way it's a bit too late to care from the disenfranchised standpoint.

    " I don't think we need feminism because any usefullness it once had can no longer support the changing woman of today. Women need support and encouragement to be their own persons and not a crutch, it's time to let our daughters go into the world and get some experience in faith. We can no longer rant and rave about the injustices in this world, now is the generation to face those obstacles with faith. Faith that the Universe will continue to provide safe passages, no more hoping to be rescued by some all mighty group of heroines." 62,Louise

Article by Rae Lyn an avid supporter of Leather Spinstershood ideas and embodiment. ©1998 : )