Feminism isn’t dead, despite all the assassination attempts

From The Guardian UK:  http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2015/oct/25/feminism-isnt-dead-spectator

The proclaiming of the ‘end of feminism’ by the Spectator and others is merely an attempt to deflect blame for problems society has failed to tackle

Sunday 25 October 2015

Feminism is dead. Long live feminism. The front page of the Spectator and a spate of other articles would have us believe the battle is won and we can now “move on”.

I can’t be the only one who thinks this is wonderful news. We highly strung, hand-wringing, over-sensitive, perpetually offended wilting violets can hang up our suffragette-coloured hats, stop combing Twitter in desperate search of minor criticism to weep about and finally stop hating all the men for long enough to get boyfriends. Rejoice!

Except … there are still just a few minor issues to sort out. As kind as it is of the Spectator (that great bastion of equality, which recently brought us a blow by blow comparison of the looks of the female Labour leadership contenders) to let us poor weary feminists off the hook, there’s a bit of a catch. Women are still being murdered by their male partners every week; 85,000 of us are still being raped each year and 400,000 sexually assaulted; while 54,000 of us lose our jobs each year because of maternity discrimination. British women earn about 19% less than men overall, there are fewer of us running FTSE 100 companies than there are men named John. We are the majority of low-paid workers and the domestic and caring work we do is unpaid and undervalued. At school, one third of us will suffer unwanted sexual touching, also known as sexual assault, between the ages of 16 and 18. One in four of us will experience domestic violence. But you already know all that. You’ve heard it all before. The Spectator and others are terribly thoughtful to offer us a break, because it is a bit tiring, really, to repeat these statistics over and over again. It’s difficult to keep banging on about a problem that remains unsolved, while a vocal section of the population sticks its fingers in its ears and sings: “Nah nah nah nah naaaah, I can’t hear you!”

There is a bit of a glitch in their plan though, because angrily denying that a problem even exists tends to be one of the clearest indicators that a society has yet to get to grips with it.

So what is the source of this growing angst about feminism? If the movement truly were fading to an obscure death, as so many commentators suggest, you might think that front-page articles declaring its proponents “feminazis” and trumpeting its demise would hardly be necessary. The real clue is to be found in the articles themselves, which fixate on objections to wolf whistles and urge us to get a grip and admit that the real reason for the under-representation of women in politics is women’s own gooey fixation with babies. (Don’t worry, there’ll be an emergency feminist meeting where we can get together and work out what to do now the secret ovary-aching truth has been revealed.)

Both arguments suggest a stricken, defensive desire to deflect any sense of blame from the majority of men. If we maintain that there might be some connection between the treatment of women’s bodies as public property in the street and the fact that they are discriminated against in the workplace, we’re suddenly suggesting wolf-whistlers might have to reconsider their behaviour. If we foist the burden for discrimination on women’s own uncontrollable hormones, there’s no longer any public responsibility to do anything about the problem, because it’s perfectly natural.

Continue reading at:  http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2015/oct/25/feminism-isnt-dead-spectator

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