Thursday, December 16, 2004

Quick Update on Feminism 

My mom gave me this Esquire magazine from 1984 the other day. On the cover it said "A Celebration of the New America Woman." So I read this article by Gloria Steinem that basically was my last blogpost on feminism verbatim:

"If the next phase means that men and women can shake loose the confines of gender and concern themselves with growth and spirituality, then their is
good cause for optimism. As Steinem sees it, we are moving toward a time
of freedom of choice. Prescribed masculine and feminine qualities are
being scrapped in favor of "human qualities," and women are affirming
their own traits, not imitating men.

So I guess I didn't have a radical epiphany. It was a great article though, until you remember this was 1984 and here we are 20 years later having made very little progress if any. I don't think Esquire would even run an article like that one today. They are more interested in Linsey Lohan vs. Hillary Duff.

Steinem's article also made me reconsider my last post. I ended my "reclaiming feminism" post with the assumption that women can be feminists but also be fashionable and sexy. Most women of my generation, even those who consider themselves feminists, believe it is okay to look hot and leverage sex and sexuality for personal and professional gain. I guess I would fit into that category. Or at least admit I have used my own many times to get what I want (it sounds crass saying it so bluntly but it almost comes naturally in some situations). However, the argument against being fashionable, sexy feminists also has an important place in the feminist movement. And this argument is even more lost in my generation than embracing the word feminism.

Simply put, if we don't fight against the assertion that to be a successful woman you must be
attractive, then we are saying as a society that women should strive hard to be beautiful. Equally, if we say that men must be rich and powerful to be considered successful, then we are saying that they should strive hard to make money. I don't know about you, but I want people in my society to strive hard to be thoughtful, confident, intelligent and empathatic. Not hot. I can't lie, I wear makeup almost everyday and try to look my best, but I am also cognizant of the reasons I do it (for personal and professional gain) unlike many of my friends who truly believe they do it for themselves. I also don't want to spend too much of my life primping and shaving and plucking and painting and dressing. I have friends that swear they shave their legs because they like to and wear thongs because they are "more comfortable." I do both, and I agree they make me feel more sexy and confidenct (i.e. more successful), but if I lived in a culture where no one cared what I looked like at all, believe me I'd be in hairy and happy in sweats and briefs. And I think the women that reject seeking beauty and primping are stronger than I am in many respects. Anyways, that is the use I see in the "bra-burning" part of the feminist movement.

So I'm sure I will find this next post in some Glamour from 1993 but I guess if one were to get depressed every time you had an insight that had already been thought of, you'd be pretty darn


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