what has feminism ever done for us?

(391 Posts)

right girls, it's timne for a proper debate which isn';t about blardy weaning.

the motion is this:

feminism has not really acheived anything. women got the vote and were accepted in the workplace because of the world wars and not because of reason. Later, we accepted careers, but ended up neither having our cake nor eating it what with all the housework and childcare we were doing. and male hegemony still reigns supreme.

discuss.

Judy1234 Sun 22-Apr-07 19:44:00

The C of E has its usual silly fudge - it is letting women in at the bottom whilst prohibiting them from leading as bishops and archbishops.

Some Catholics apparently argue that the huge lack of men getting vocations and big surge of women wanting to be ordained is God - God behind it.

kickassangel Sun 22-Apr-07 19:34:42

so the nearest the catholics have got to having a female leader of any kind is a fictitious character who wasn't exactly the most holy of people!

still, i do think that feminism has made us question the attitude of men at times. i think without feminism the church of england would never have decided to allow female leadership - it was an result of pressure from its own ffemale members rather than because they suddenly saw the light & re-interpreted god's laws.

i went to a c of e school, which had a male chaplain who refused to update the liturgy to say 'human' instead of 'man'. it was also an all girls school. there were times when there were over 1,000 girls in eucharist, and only a few male teachers, but we all were meant to say 'man'. unsurprisingly, there were quite a few of us who said HUman. even at the age of 13 or 14 it just seemed so patronising of him to say the of course, we were included, as if there might have been any doubt. a whole new discussion on who is more moral and likely to go to heaven, might be interesting? from then on i've had major problems accepting male 'father figures' particularly in a religious setting. they only seem to be interested in seeing how far they can subjugate & patronise me.

Judy1234 Sun 22-Apr-07 14:18:21

A few religions have excluded people of different colour I think - the Mormons didn't have a very good record on that at one point. But they just reflect things at the time. The essence of Christianity and Islam is equality of all people. Men just chose to twist the words for their own ends.

" 1601, Pope Clement VIII declared the legend of the female Pope to be untrue. The famous bust of her, inscribed Johannes VIII, femina ex Anglia, which had been carved for the series of papal figures in the Duomo of Siena about 1400 and was noted by travellers, was either destroyed or recarved and relabeled, replaced by a male figure, of Pope Zachary (Stanford 1999; J.N.D. Kelly, Oxford Dictionary of Popes)."

niceglasses Sun 22-Apr-07 13:48:09

I thought Pope Joan was largely fictitious?

kickassangel Sun 22-Apr-07 12:51:11
kickassangel Sun 22-Apr-07 12:46:03

xenia, i think pope joan was a mistake. it wasn't until she went into labour (part way through a parade) that they realised she was a woman. where she gave birth (in france) has become a shrine to fertility, with desperate women going there to bathe in the middle ages. funnily enough, a lot of single young men worked at the spa there ... anything to do with the success of bathing in 'blessed waters'

that asied, i'm interested in religion & equality. the christian religion is supposed to uphold the view that god created all people equal & loves all of his creation, but so often the greatest oppression f women is voiced through the church. i think it's when i was told that it's ok for men to have exclusinve clubs, parties, meeting etc because they need to bond that i started to really question the teaching. you can imagine the reaction if we said it was ok for white people to be exclusive! i just don't see how some people say that racisim is evil - against god's teaching - but support sexism. surely any kind of supremecy is wrong if god loves us all?

monkeytrousers Fri 20-Apr-07 18:26:10

Caroline - it's another straw man. Where are these women who tell working mums that they are "damaging" their children?

monkeytrousers Fri 20-Apr-07 18:24:56

It always gets down to this paradox with you Xenia - you argue from a Conservative stance for individuality and self determination, knowing full well that an elite can only exist on the back of the pleb majority - yet it's those plebs fault for being there as all of us could be in the elite if we only had some backbone and drive. Do you see the paradox?

Judy1234 Fri 20-Apr-07 18:05:22

99% of what is spewed out by the press is "working women damaging children" and about 1% - thinking of recent Times article here, very very rare - the other way around.

I would not want anyone to censor their views for fear of hurting feelings ever. It's one of the pathetic submissive sorts of traits we need to breed out of simpering smiling women who lying through their teeth make smarmy nice comments to their friends all the time like Stepford Wives produced on a production line and are unable to debate things for hear of hurting feelings because precious week little women will go off and cry if they get their feelings hurt..... we want none of that and certainly not on line. We want women who really enjoy a good debate and support freedom of speech, who would be prepared to die to ensure the UK remains a country where people whose views we strongly disagree with can spout them forth.

Catholicism... therei s quite a feminist movement within the church. My mother was a eucharistic minister and went round houses and homes giving out communion. I of course will only be content when we have a female pope - I think there was Pope Joan years back so perhaps there's precedent for it.

Caroline1852 Fri 20-Apr-07 15:35:46

Xenia - I think women who tell working women that they are psychologically damaging their children should shut up and keep their opinions to themselves. You seem quite content to upset people, by attempting to somehow change their minds and bring them round to your "right" way of thinking, perhaps you should therefore expect others to be allowed to voice their opinions too - you can't have it both ways. I don't think anyone has the right to be rabid and impose their views on anyone about anything. I think we should all live by mantra "first do no harm".

kickassangel Fri 20-Apr-07 14:53:57

i think that one thing feminism definiely HAS achieved, is that we no longer think of womena s possesssion os men. i was horrified when i got married, that i was handed from my father to my husband, snd that it was because he was 'giving' me to the next man to own me. not usre if that's still in the marriage service, but i do think we acknowledge women as individuals in their own right.
what horrifies me is that many people think of racism as a HUGE no -no as bad as committing murder or rape, but still think it's ok to be sexist because that's different - women are different so it's ok to expect different things of them. ? I know there are some differences, but our brains are just as valid & should be given just as much respect.

Xenia, you've mentioned the catholic church in some threads of yours - i would be interested to know how some of your opinions sit within the context of catholicism. i used to be a regular c of e attender, but just couldn't stomach the mysogenism.

Judy1234 Fri 20-Apr-07 13:02:09

Plenty of stay at home mothers seem content to tell working mothers they damage their children psychologically due to the separation. Don't see why in return working mothers can't say how children benefit if mothers work just to try a little bit to right the balance but any woman secure in her choices and happy to stay home (or work) shouldn't mind or be affected. You live according to your own values. Obviousyl some women find it easier if they mix with women with similar values whether in a commune, strict religious group, suburban commuter belt where everyone is a 1950s stayle housewife waving men off to work every day or inner London all wives work area or whatever. Then you aren't threatened or challenged perhaps. Than kgoodness some men and women in the 1800s were prepared to step out the mould and say things that upset other women and men - like women should vote, women's brains can actually cope with being doctors etc.

Cloudhopper Fri 20-Apr-07 10:08:30

I agree Caroline. At least both you and your sister had the choice over what to do.

As a very extreme example, take the situation in Iraq when it was recently post-invasion. Women had been used to having choices, having jobs, and the increasing instability meant that they lost those choices virtually overnight. Suddenly they found themselves having to be escorted to their workplaces by male chaperones, and an increasing pressure to wear the full burka.

This isn't a diatribe against Islam or the Iraq invasion, but I am quoting this as an example of what happens when women lose their freedom to choose. I realise that this is unlikely to happen in this country, but I think we underestimate how free women are now compared to even our mothers' generation.

Caroline1852 Fri 20-Apr-07 09:36:30

I think much of the problem lies with how women measure their own personal happiness/achievement/success/contentment (call it what you like). If it is done based on your own values then I think on the whole women achieve what they want. If it is done, looking over your shoulder, doing what is "on trend" or doing what you believe is expected of you then I think confusion and misery ensue. It makes me very cross when women tell other women that they should be doing this or should be doing that...... when in fact surely the best outcome for them is if they are doing what they truly want to be doing. Clearly there are factors (as suggested by Cloudhopper in a prev post) that curtail women's choices (house prices, geography, marital/relationship breakdown, illness etc) but their choices should absolutely not be curtailed by other women who clearly feel uncomfortable at someone behaving differently (almost as though it undermines their own choice and they feel jittery about it). My sister (who is very successful careerwise and is very wealthy to boot) thinks I am the world's biggest under achiever but actually I am much happier than her - and she would acknowledge that. Interestingly, I would not dream of telling her to go part time or give up her job and spend more time with her children. We are just very different.

Cloudhopper Fri 20-Apr-07 08:22:01

But kickassangel, I'm not sure life was ever easier for previous generations either. In fact we could still opt for the choices they made if we desired.

I could still stay at home with my children I suppose, if I were prepared to move to a cheaper part of the country and live in the cheapest flat I could get hold of.

That might sound like a non-choice to most of us, but it is the reality that a lot of our predecessors were faced with.

I think it is important to distinguish between absolute choices and relative choices. Feminism has given me the absolute choice over whether to work. Whether I perceive it as a choice depends on the expectations I have as part of this society at this point in time.

Judy1234 Thu 19-Apr-07 21:33:43

Many women achieve that. On a personal basis for many posters that gives them more power and ability to manage their ives and work so if mothers have an aim it shouldn't be the rubbish job with low pay and no power but the job at the top with high pay and lots of control. Far too many women aim low.

monkeytrousers Thu 19-Apr-07 20:45:57

What, so we should all be the boss? Don't think that is possible somehow

monkeytrousers Thu 19-Apr-07 20:42:06

The rights of men are part of the feminist debate - don't let anyone get away with that one!

Judy1234 Thu 19-Apr-07 20:23:54

I suppose you might have been in a small rented house - my grandfather in 1911 share a house with 26 young men - we can hardly imagine that now, all cramped presumably on mattresses 6 men per room many unable to get married until they were well over 40. We're all a lot better off now.

I certainly agree that status, high earnings and power at work gives you power to determine work, hours, children. I have so much more of that now at 45 than I did at 26 working full time in the City with 3 children under 4. That's my key difference now. Money and control over your working life makes a massive difference which for me means girls really should pursue that if they can because it makes them more able to be there for their children. A secretarey may find it hard to get time off to watch a Christmas play. The MD probably just says - I'm going out and goes. Obviously that's a generalisation but if you run the place you can often determine your hours - that may mean you work harder than everyone else but at least you're in control of it all.

kickassangel Thu 19-Apr-07 20:18:28

i do think we have more choices than previous generations, but that doesn't make life easier. i've just applied to reduce my hours slightly (less than 1 day a week) because otherwise i would have no contact with dd's school when she starts in sep. dh doesn't have to make that compromise - his work will be more flexible about his start to the school day. my work could be more flexible if they wanted to be but have an active DON'T help working parents policy! so, he earnes more than me, but he is the emergency childcare during term time.
incidently, he would resent me being a sahm shile he worked full time, particularly if that continued for a long period - ther's a reason why men die earlier!
i do think that discussing the rights of men should be part of feminist debate, if we are after equality, we need to consider everybody's rights.

also, whilst i believe that both men & women should have the freedom to choose whether to work or stay home, i do wonder what is the result on children if both parents have very 'full on' careers which keep them away from home. i have taught many children where parents work shifts & children are left at home. this can put the child into quite important decision making & they don't make the best life long decisions at 13/14, but they don't have parents around enough to discuss things with. if we have a society where everyone HAS to work ft, i worry about the social effects. isn't the increase in dual income families partly responsible for the rising house prices? what has feminism given me? a big mortgage!

Cloudhopper Thu 19-Apr-07 09:49:39

But Xenia, in an industry like the one I work in, 80% of the skilled employees are women, so there is no choice over whether to employ them or not. Yes men are given more responsibility and better promotion prospects because of their lack of fertility. But to be honest these days this just looks more like common sense to me than discrimination.

Childless women seem to be treated equally - and to be honest the ones of us with small children are less reliable sometimes when we have to concede to our role as the main carer. There I've said it.

I am still musing over my choice between all out career progress full time and the part time route where I will get to see my children. I feel incredibly spoilt by the choices I have.

I don't feel there are any barriers to this choice other than my own conscience and what I want to do. This is incredible given that most of my mother's generation were nurses and teachers by default and expected to give up work when they had children. Equally in many communities women have always covered home responsibilities as well as low paid jobs.

Judy1234 Thu 19-Apr-07 09:39:39

Agree with CH, particularly about rest of the world and indeed many communities in the UK.

Interesting issue is that if women don't exercise their rights whether they lose them. If 99% of working women on having chidlren make flexible working requests to come back 2 days a week for example who on earth is going to want to hire women in the first place as they're just a complex liability. If only 1% do then the rest aren't tarred with the same brush etc.

Caroline1852 Thu 19-Apr-07 09:26:32

Very well put Cloudhopper. I have said before, I am pro choice. There is no need to seek to justify the eventual choice - just be grateful to have it. And be grateful that your friend had a choice too, and be not jittery that she chooses differently!
Look at what is happening in Iraq - Muslims at war with different Muslims. Sometimes minor differences escalate into major conflict because a minor departure from "the choice" is somehow much more uncomfortable. There was a piece in the Times last week and it had 5 (if I remember correctly) personality traits/skills that we should all have to be effective humans. One of them was "acceptance of difference".

monkeytrousers Thu 19-Apr-07 09:21:49

And most women post children are in low paid, menial jobs - serving men in fairly submissive ways.

Caring for your children is putting them first, not your partner. Those Victorian patriarchal days are well and truly over.

Cloudhopper Thu 19-Apr-07 09:13:41

I think we are lucky to have the luxury of wondering whether feminism has done anything for us. I for one am extremely glad to live in one of the 'islands' of female equality in the world. It is only in Western society that women have 'equal' rights.

As for the problems regarding combining childcare and housework with working full-time, it could be that we haven't yet really worked out what to do with our relatively new rights. We are mid-way through a cultural change where many of our mothers would have done the majority of domestic work and childcare, with secondary careers.

It would be no surprise if it takes more than a generation to work out what sort of role we now play. We need to cherish the rights we have, or run the risk of taking them for granted and slipping back into the tyrannical patriarchy that much of the world still inhabits.

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