Over the course of a 24 hour period, a popular parenting website in the U.K., Netmums, recently conducted a survey with 1300 of their users to “find out what feminism means to both girls and women living in the UK in 2012.” The report of their findings has inspired another wave of “feminism is dead” declarations. Nothing new there of course, it resonates with the same old hackneyed stereotypes of what it means to be a feminist. Nonetheless, it reminds us of the continually needed conversation about how to make feminist activism and goals accessible and communicable to more people lest Netmums founder Siobhan Freegard’s statement go uncontested: “The study starkly shows modern women feel traditional Feminism is no longer working for them, as it’s aggressive, divisive and doesn’t take into account their personal circumstances.”
Here is a wide variety of articles written in response to Netmums’ reporting:
- The Guardian brought together a group of female thinkers for their insights and comments.
- Feminism isn’t dead – it’s just changing
- What does feminism mean to you?
- And take note – the first two comments on Netmums’ website are awesome.
Finally, there’s always more to learn about what’s going on with feminism in the U.K. Look at what they have planned today: Feminist Lobby of Parliament – send them some gynergy!
Update: More news from the U.K. – Bishop Rowan launches a campaign to secure the ordination of women as Anglican Bishops and states, “We must be honest and admit that without secular feminism we might never have seen the urgency of this or the inconsistency of our previous position.”
Today’s In The News post was prepared by Xochitl Alvizo. If you would like to submit content for an In The News feature, or would like to submit a full post, please write us at feminismandreligionblog-at-gmail-dot-com
8 thoughts on “IN THE NEWS: A Feminism Survey in the U.K.”
Well the very fact that this survey was carried out on a website called NetMUMS indicates a certain built in bias. I had never visited that site until now (and probably never will again).
On the other hand I think it is true that modern feminism has become a distant and cerebral movement with an agenda that doesn’t reflect modern experiences of womanhood. Yes we want equal rights, pay and opportunities; but the rest of the feminist agenda assumes desires and values that many of us don’t have but is too stuck in it’s own mindset to change.
I think one problem is that feminism asks women to understand and admit that women as a group are oppressed by sex and that many women are also oppressed by heterosexism, class, race, colonialism. I think a lot of women still want to feel they can “make it on their own” if only they “play their cards” right which means better than other women who are oppressed have done. The other problem is that some women feel that if they admit that women as a group have been oppressed by men as a group they will lose their chance to “get a man.”
Unless I am reading that incorrectly I think I have to disagree with every point on every level. Sure, women as a group have been oppressed, and in some places they still are being oppressed, but we are not eternal victims and we can make it on our own without being duplicitous. The idea that if we admit we have (historically) been repressed by men we may lose our chance of getting a man is the most sexist rubbish I have heard in a long time. Good grief!.
I think that you may be misreading Carol’s post, Cassie. I know Carol’s work, and there’s no way that she would be suggesting that women are “eternal victims.” In fact, she really pushes for women’s agency on their own behalf. The fact that we have been oppressed (and still are being oppressed — just read the last post by Sarah Sentilles about how women’s writing is suppressed by the mainstream media if you doubt that) is not our fault. It’s the fault of patriarchy. But I know from teaching Women’s Studies that most women have no idea of the various ways that patriarchy makes our lives as women more difficult than those of men. Most women believe that at this time in history they can make it on their own, while the statistics suggest otherwise. If you want to be a Congresswoman, you have a 16.8% chance compared to a man (16.8% of our congress is women these days). If you want to be a CEO of a large corporation, the percentage is much lower. The glass ceiling may be a little higher than in the past, but it’s still there. If you want to be a writer, your chances are much lower than a man’s (again read Sarah Sentilles post). And if you want to have children, you will probably be the one responsible for them, since stay-at-home dads are even less prevalent in our culture than female CEOs. And women are afraid — I think to a certain extent rightfully so — that if they’re activist feminists men will not be attracted to them. Why’s that? Because men have been sold a bill of goods (as have women) that feminism is man-hating, divisive, and aggressive. And women have been taught by patriarchy that if they’re aggressive (i.e. feminist), they won’t catch a man.
And yet still you finish your reply with the implication that behind everything that women do or don’t do is the imperative to catch a man! I will think more about your answer and look up the post you suggested; but still my feeling is that it is you that is missing the point. And anyway, isn’t the very fact that people like you are telling ordinary women what they should be thinking (because they are too dumb to work out their place in society for themselves) oppressive in itself?
Our society is both sexist and heterosexist. Children are raised believing (because their parents believe and their grandparents before them) that a) girls aren’t as significant as boys (we pay them 71% to men’s 100%), and b) that women and men should marry (why do you think that when we try to change the laws to allow LGBTQ people to marry that other people push back?). As a result, women grow up believing that their meal ticket is a man, i.e. they want to catch a man and are afraid that becoming feminist will lessen their chances.
When I taught Women’s Studies, I gave women the facts and information that our mainstream culture leaves out. I never told them what to think. I let them decide for themselves. And I graded them not on how they parroted back my opinions to me, but on how they supported their own opinions. I believe I did the same thing in my response above.
I gave a fuller response to these points in my own blog. http://justcassie.wordpress.com/2012/11/05/the-argument-that-wont-go-away/