Guardian article about feminism 'failing' had me spitting feathers.

(77 Posts)

Yes, I'm aware it's predictable shit, but really?!

So, essentially, ,most women who worked for 12 years before the Equal Pay Act in 1970 are hugely worse paid over their careers than men, and than the tiny number of women who graduated with degrees in 1958.

This, apparently, is all feminism's fault, cos you know everyone really tried hard to exploit the vast majority of women. The nice patriarchial system just employed them on shit wages and made it perfectly ok to pay them less than men ... that hardly compares to the evil of feminism whereby some small number of women (the hussies!) made it and got paid substantially more than most women. Let's search out that tiny minority and burn them, right?


This article is one level up from the sort of idiocy where people believe the moon landings were faked. Except I expect it isn't idiocy really, it's someone deliberately taking a pop at feminism, isn't it? sad

greenhill Mon 01-Apr-13 11:59:21

Sigh. Or it could be that low paid jobs remain low paid because any percentage increase in wages, means that it well never keep track with a higher salaried job even if the percentage increase in wages is the same.

What a silly article.

Ssh! You're applying logic, I don't believe women should be allowed to do that.

FasterStronger Mon 01-Apr-13 13:47:45

you could argue that in lower income households/workplaces, male esteem need to be propped up by a macho culture which make it harder for women to achieve equality.

its not a failure of feminism, just not enough feminism....yet.

why do journalists love to talk about The Failure of Feminism? is it just alliteration? I don't think so....

bigkidsdidit Mon 01-Apr-13 14:03:09

I came on to see if there was a thread about this! It drove me mad. Why is it the fault of women that other women are paid less than men?

and in the Guardian! I would expect higher of them but it seems I would be wrong sad

badguider Mon 01-Apr-13 14:08:43

Is this not an issue with the subs who wrote the headline?
The article could pretty much stay as it is if the headline was 'Feminism still has far to go to acheive equality in pay for lower-earners'

SatsukiKusukabe Mon 01-Apr-13 14:12:36

April Fools!

IsBella Mon 01-Apr-13 14:15:32

Yes because if it hadn't been for feminism, working class women would now be earning the same as working class men and the pay gap wouldn't exist.

Is that the gist of it?


SabrinaMulhollandJjones Mon 01-Apr-13 14:25:22

Ha - wish it was an April Fool...

IsBella - exactly grin

bigkidsdidit Mon 01-Apr-13 14:27:56

well not really, it;s just saying feminists don't care about working class women. Which seems to be the new way to attack us - see also reviews of Lean In.

TheDoctrineOfSnatch Mon 01-Apr-13 14:31:17

Bigkids, stop expecting better of the Guardian, I think it'll help. smile

bigkidsdidit Mon 01-Apr-13 14:33:07

but who else is there to read sad

SatsukiKusukabe Mon 01-Apr-13 16:18:03

there is one thing that kind of irks me not about feminism but about some feminists. Some do seem to have a real difficult time seeing what life if is like fir most women. Most working class women I know don't make as much as their partner. So when questions like "why do women always take themselves out of the work place for their partners" "or why do women weight child care against their salary" it makes me feel like I'm a shit feminist but actually I'm just practical. dh could not go part time in his current job and we could not afford for him to. His earning power is also something like 3times mine, so him quitting and me earning is just not even a possibility. and yes we could both work and we could get child care but once you factor in fees and petrol we might even be worse off a disability certainly no better. I also would not be improving my prospects by staying in the work place so other than missing out in my kids there would be no reward.

SatsukiKusukabe Mon 01-Apr-13 16:25:31

I also realise that if I want more done for working class women it's my job to do more not just whinge that middle class feminist who worry about the glass ceiling aren't doing enough. We all have our special interests, it's just simply the phrasing I hear that winds me up as it seems out if touch with reality

TheDoctrineOfSnatch Mon 01-Apr-13 16:35:31

Childcare being rated against household income rather than the income of the lower earner is a way of putting the point that shows it's a family expense not a female expense. Of course there is a practical balance of finances which might make it impossible for the lower earner to go back to work but sometimes people do frame the point in the other way.

FWIW, it is complete rubbish for the article to suggest this is about 'working class women'.

How many women, in 1958, got degrees? I would be that there were huge numbers of middle-class (and upper-class) women who didn't get degrees, because it wasn't a standard thing. I know there were some working class women who did get degrees.

They are comparing a tiny population of women who - against the odds - succeeded in getting paid a lot more than most women, with Everyone Else.

A mate of mine has pointed out to me that until 1971, some professions didn't allow married women to work, so I absolutely think childcare must be a huge issue.

(I'm not saying this to suggest working-class women don't need more from feminism than they get, but only to say it's complete bollocks for the journalist to label the group under discussion as 'working class'.)

SatsukiKusukabe Mon 01-Apr-13 16:53:50

I realize why it's framed that way by feminism, but it seems to be a response to what is most women's practical reality where there is a decent size pay gap between earners and neither is loaded. In a discussion between a couple where both make good money, even if there is a huge pay gap in wage it doesn't really matter as the family income more than covers child care.

SatsukiKusukabe Mon 01-Apr-13 16:58:20

also, I'm not trying to say the article has any merit because think it's rubbish. just commenting in a "while we're on the subject kind of way"

I think we need a situation where it is easier for both partners to work flexi-time, to go part time, or to pick up a career after a break. I really don't think this is a hopeless thing to wish for, because when I compare what my generation can do with my parents' generation, there have been huge changes. Back when my mum stopped working to care for us, there was really no system in her industry for anyone to go part time. She didn't know there was such a thing as a job share (though in her industry it would have worked well).

I think also the 24/7 culture of shops opening makes it easier to work shifts in, too, maybe? Though then that also has a knock-on effect as I remember someone on here linking to a study that found that women in the US who tended to work the nightshifts a lot in order to bring in a salary around childcare, were more prone to health problems because it isn't a healthy lifestyle.

Despite all that I do think there could be a heck of a lot more done to make it possible for two partners to share working and childcare effectively.

Cross posted - satsu - oh, go for it! The article is rubbish so I was sort of hoping we'd get onto a more interesting debate than it provides. I was enjoying your posts.

SatsukiKusukabe Mon 01-Apr-13 17:12:16

yes job sharing should be more of an option and potentially (this is probably not too practical but would be brilliant ) what if 60 hours a week positions could be made available to couples instead if individual? Where there is no special skill needed such as in shops etc? if the couple could then work their family life to suit them so long as someone is covering the shift?

Oddly enough, my brother and SIL have a job share just like the one you describe. It has worked brilliantly because their employer (obviously) knows they are two halves of a couple and so will need to balance their time off so there's always someone around to do childcare.

I hadn't thought of it working more generally but you're right - it could be brilliant. Especially if you're both job seeking but need part time work. I would guess it is more efficient than a job share with some random person, because it'd be in the couple's interests to prove that part-time jobs work, they'd not be blaming the other person all the time.

grimbletart Mon 01-Apr-13 17:30:10

LRD makes as good point.

It's easy to forget how few people went to university in 1958.

The figures I have (1960 actually) showed there were:
22,428 achieving first degrees,of which only 5.575 were women:
3,273 achieving higher degrees of which only 274 were women.

Crikey. Thanks, those figures are fascinating - I admit, I didn't know it was such a small proportion of women to men.

Well, I do hope someone knows a woman who got a degree in 1958-60. She is one of the 5,575 women who made feminism fail and oppressed working women and men in a way that centuries of millions of men under the patriarchy never managed.

duchesse Mon 01-Apr-13 17:36:17

What I read the article as saying is that the gender divide hasn't yet been vanquished in a way that we all knew about anyway- that is to say women lose ground the moment they have children. Since there appears to be a correlation between low qualifications and having children at a lower age, I would hope that the issues underlying this would be the first to be addressed. The fact that women in particular seem to start losing ground professionally the instant they have children is the thing that to my mind needs to be addressed. Equality in education and access to it is well underway (although aspiration is often the problem in the UK for young people of both sexes), so I view the child bearing factor as being the most significant.

The fact is that childcare for example is unaffordable for many lower-paid women, leaving them a hobson's choice of working for nothing or less than nothing, or staying at home to bring up their own children (potentially whilst working graveyard shifts in some appallingly paid place and roping relatives in tp cover any childcare gaps), while better paid women are able to access high quality childcare flexible that they trust to do a good job for their children.

I don't know quite how explain this ... but what I thought reading your post, duchesse, is that there's a worry about people taking these correlations between low qualifications and having children at a young age, and saying 'well, that's it, we must stigmatize young mothers'. I don't mean you're saying that (!), but it seems to be the way that society has tried to solve this one recently. Which is obviously really problematic.

I think there should be more acknowledgement that, when it's women with few qualifications having children at a young age, there's a generation of absent men, isn't there?

duchesse Mon 01-Apr-13 17:42:41

My MIL is a 1960 graduate (Cambridge, maths). She wanted to become an accountant (but frankly nowadays would have made a bloody killing as a stockbroker) but decided under social pressure to become a teacher instead (a far more suitable job for a woman). She was from a WC/LMC background and got a county scholarship to an independent school followed by a scholarship to Cambridge. She's had a very successful life but would rather have followed her dream than become a teacher.

That is really interesting (and sad for your MIL). I wonder how many other women were in that situation? I know a couple of women who graduated in the early 1970s and neither had children though they both regret it. I am not saying that to promote the whole dull idea that all women want babies - but these particular women felt that they weren't even allowed that choice because they'd got degrees. I think it must've been a huge amount of pressure to 'succeed' (and 'success' being defined in a very narrow way).

Btw, your MIL sounds amazing!

duchesse Mon 01-Apr-13 17:49:18

That's absolutely not how I meant it! Of course not. BUT if a very young woman has a baby, it's often with a very young man... And possibly utterly devoid of the maturity to embark on the long-term project of parenting. With all the possibilities that flow from that for the woman in the equation. And of course the parenting ought to be done by both parents, but if a woman does end up alone, then she needs to have support if she's to bring up her children and forge her own place in society at the same time. Some women alone with their children are fortunate to have a lot of support from their families. Many are not.

I do think that the twin issues of education (which is used as a "tool" in the developing world to limit the birth rate, so effective is it at pushing up average age of first child) and trustworthy affordable childcare must surely improve the lot of all families and more importantly of (as the situation stands at the moment) all women.

Oh, no! I know you didn't ... that's why I was saying I didn't know how to put what I was thinking. It just seems to be the way society responds to this issue.

I agree with you about the reasons why women end up alone. It's just a horrible situation all round.

I agree about education and trustworth affordable childcare.

I guess what I was getting towards thinking was the way there basically isn't a 'good' time for a woman to have children, as far as society sees it. In your teens, people expect the bloke to leave and it's the girl's responsibility. Same often in your early 20s. In your mid-late 20s you're trying to get a foot on a career ladder and even if you have a supportive partner, if he's about the same age, he may well not be able to subsidize childcare. And then when you get into your 30s it may be harder to leave an established career, and the further into your 30s you get the more you're risking not being able to have children. There just isn't a good time so I think the focus on young mothers, which our society has, is misplaced. It's more obvious why a teenage mother might struggle, but I'm wondering if maybe the struggles of a woman who ends up trapped in a relationship doing the donkeywork, is actually not much better off?

javabean Mon 01-Apr-13 18:01:19

The article says "women with a degree born in 1958", so I take that to mean those who started uni around 1976, and graduated around 1979-80. I guess there is a big difference in the numbers between 1960 and 1980?

The "feminism has failed" line annoyed me too, but I didn't read the article thinking it was blaming all the high earning women for the "failure". Rather just pointing out that conditions for high earning women have improved faster than for those lower earners. And it is easy I think, if you're doing well, to believe that everyone else is too, and overlook the fact that things aren't changing as fast for low-earners.

FWIW, I think the barriers for high-earning women are different to those for low-earners. And those who are high-earners are more likely to be the ones who are demanding more from employers and changing the way women work. Which is all well and good, but not much use to low-earners if the more vocal are changing things that don't actually help them.

Ah, ok ... I could have sworn it didn't actually say that when I read it this morning. confused

I'm not nit-picking, just could have sworn.

Even so, I would imagine the numbers are still fairly small. My mum would be in the late 70s generation, and it is still a very small number of women (or men for that matter) who went to university. And by the late 70s, it certainly wasn't the case that working-class people didn't go, either, so in some ways it's a worse argument by then.

I agree about the differences between low and high earners.

javabean Mon 01-Apr-13 18:10:32

Could well have said something different this morning - the Guardian are always changing their articles when they get things wrong!

My DM and MIL were both working-class women who went to university around that time, and I think you're probably right that the actual number of people who went to uni was still small then. But I wonder if the male/female proportion was any better than in 1960? Do you have any figures?

No, I may well have misread it.

I think the proportion was still pretty poor in the 1970s. I read a really interesting book about women at Oxbridge (and I'm sure that was a special case back then as it is now), but back then there were something like 8 women's colleges and about 50-60 for men, so you can imagine the proportions! I believe that numbers of women going to university were still pretty out of whack with numbers of men across the board, but I don't have figures. I will try to look.

I know the number of people who went was still small - it's only really recently they tried to get 50% going.

Ok, I hope this works.

If you click this link,d.d2k

And scroll to p. 14, there is a graph of numbers of people in Higher Education from 1919-2009. The graph climbs quite a bit between 1958 and 1980, but much more sharply thereafter.

SatsukiKusukabe Mon 01-Apr-13 18:22:49

that's interesting about your brother and sil lrd, did they go looking for that situation or fall in to it? It would also mean a safe wage if one partner got ill or needed more time at home for family commitments or even breast feeding.

They went looking, but they weren't expecting to find anything quite as neat as a job share - they were hoping to find two jobs at the same place or within commuting distance really. But as you say, it's a really safe job because they knew that if my SIL had another baby, my DB could simply take on more hours, or if my DB ended up doing more childcare my SIL could pick up the slack.

I think it would be great to see more of this. I don't know how practical it would be but you'd think retail would be a good area for it.

duchesse Mon 01-Apr-13 18:45:31

Cambridge had three undergraduate women's colleges in 1957 when my MIL went- Newnham, Girton and the very new New Hall. Girton is now co-ed, as are all the previously men's colleges. My own college only went co-ed less than 10 years before I went there and the m/f ratios were 3/1 even in 1987.

javabean Mon 01-Apr-13 18:47:34

From the figures written underneath that graph, it seems that the proportion of people going to uni has approximately doubled every 20 years, so a rough guess for 1980 is 11% of the population. And basing on 8 women's colleges vs 60 men's, I'd guess at 10% of those at uni being women vs 90% men. i.e. approx 2% of women went to university in 1980 vs 20% of men.

Not that it's terribly relevant to this thread, but the last-but-one Oxbridge college to go mixed (a women's college at Oxford went mixed a couple of years back) only admitted women in 1987, and students carried coffins through the halls as a protest when they were let in. hmm

I started out saying that this article was idiotic because such a small proportion of women went to university and they were being blamed for feminism failing. Now I'm thinking I doubt it was terribly different for those women anyway!

javabean Mon 01-Apr-13 19:19:43

X-posted with duchesse smile Even if I revise my 2% figure upwards a bit, we're still only talking about maybe 3-4% of women born in 1958 going to university and being the 'skilled' ones talked about in the article.

Just reread the article, and I'm suspicious of the stats. They claim that there is a difference of just 45% in pay between men with a degree born in 1958 and their unskilled counterparts. Really?? I don't believe that at all - surely it's much larger for men too? And this 45% figure, compared with 198% for women, is the stat behind the headline.

Surely there are more high-flying CEOs and execs amongst the men from that generation, than from the women? That would make the pay disparity between the skilled/unskilled men more than for the women? But, without reading the actual report, it's hard to say what exactly they're reporting on.

I assume they're taking some kind of average for men who didn't go to university and men who did, hence the 45% figure. That's my issue with them referring to these groups as 'working class' and 'not working class'. I would think not having a degree was no indicator of class at all. I'm not sure if it ever has been really - though I do see that at some point after someone gets a degree, they might get into a kind of lifestyle that would mean they no longer identified as working class.

Sorry, I didn't find the original report but I will have a look now.

bigkidsdidit Mon 01-Apr-13 19:24:09

have you seen they're asking for a panel to discuss this now?


shall we all volunteer?

I'm not working class but I really would love to see someone from MN do that!

bigkidsdidit Mon 01-Apr-13 19:27:36

well no, me neither...

I might send it to my mum, who I believes identifies as WC because she remembers her Co-op number, although she did graduate in 1975.

javabean Mon 01-Apr-13 19:31:21

The report is here for anyone interested

and the relevant stats are on page 21. Haven't read it yet thoroughly yet though.

Both of my parents were from the generation where if you stayed on past 16 you would think of yourself as having stopped being 'working class'. Whereas I think now it is more something to be proud of, for my dad it was something not to admit to. I suppose maybe that is how they came to that peculiar use of working class in that article, but I still think it's rubbish.

I can't find the original survey because I am shit at googling, but maybe someone else can. blush

Ah, there we go!

Thanks java, you're a star. I will read.

grimbletart Mon 01-Apr-13 19:39:58

The numbers graduating in 1980 (from the same table as the 1960 ones I put upthread) were:
First degree: 68,150, of which women were 25,319;
Higher degree: 18,925, of which women were 4,511.

Mmm. The report is kinda saying the opposite of what the journalism about it (not just in the Guardian) says. hmm

Gotta admit I am amused it was funded by L'Oreal. With their sparkling track record for lack of sexism. To be fair, I doubt this is their kind of sexism, though.

The way the study puts it is this: 'Controlling for education, social class, geography and whether or not and at what age respondents had children, our analysis of full-time workers shows that women born in 1958 were, at the age of 41–42, expected to earn almost 35 per cent less than men born in the same year. This figure fell to 29 per cent for women born in 1970, asked at age 38–39. ...

A man born in 1958 was likely to earn 14 per cent more for holding a degree (asked at age 41–42), while a man born in 1970 was likely to earn 17 per cent more for holding a degree (at age 38–39) (see annex 1, table A1.5). A woman born in 1958 was likely to earn nearly 34 per cent for holding a degree. This declined slightly for women born in 1970, who could expect to earn 32 per cent more than women without a degree (table A1.5). This shows that a degree benefits a woman more than it benefits a man, although the gap has closed. ...

Although a woman enjoys a higher premium for a degree, she still earns much less than her male counterparts. Holding everything else equal, a woman without a degree born in 1958 was expected to earn about 52 per cent of the amount a man withouta degree earns, based on weekly wages, while a woman with a degree was expected to earn about 71 per cent of a male graduate’s wage (table A1.5). Among the 1970 cohort, women without a degree could expect to earn 59 per cent of a (non-graduate) man’s wages, while a female graduate could expect to earn 75 per cent of man’s wage'

And, crucially given what we're saying on this thread: 'This analysis is based on full-time workers, but the pay gap between full-time and part- time workers is much larger (over 36 per cent, compared to 10–15 per cent for full-time workers) and has hardly fallen at all over the last 30 years.'

'Between 1971 and 1993, a massive 93 per cent of the total increase in women’s employment was in part-time work, and the proportion of women working part- time increased from one-third in 1971 to almost half (46 per cent) by 1993 ... The proportion of women in part-time work has since fallen to 39 per cent, but this is still the third-highest rate in the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Deveopment (OECD), behind only the Netherlands and Switzerland.

While part-time work in other northern European countries has been used as a tool to retain workers and promote a healthy family life ... In a survey of 22 workplaces across England, Grant et al (ibid) found that the main motivation for employers in taking on part-time workers was to keep wage costs down and deploy staff flexibly.

They also make this a interesting point (in view of that claim that feminism is to blame for dual-income households/high mortgages): 'the shift from an industrial to a service economy was also associated with a decline in the employment and earning prospects of men, particularly those with lower levels of education. For some families, therefore, dual-earning came to reflect a financial necessity, not simply changes in attitudes and aspirations among women. In many parts of the country, relatively well-paid jobs in manufacturing have been replaced by low-paid, low-skilled jobs in the private service sector, carried out largely by women on a part-time basis.'

The report is actually very up-front about the patriarchy being the reason for women and especially working-class women struggling:

*'The average time men spend on housework and particularly childcare has risen since the 1970s, but this has occurred mostly among men with higher levels of education. In recent years, moreover, the time women spend on childcare has also increased. ... Despite some improvements in family policy
in recent years, the combination of a relatively long period of maternity leave, meagre paternity leave, and a lack of affordable childcare for children under the age of three tacitly supports a male breadwinner model.*'

I hope it's ok to make such a long post of quotations, they're just the ones I found really interesting in light of the Guardian article, and I've only read part of it so far.

Thanks again for the link.

javabean Mon 01-Apr-13 20:05:10

I searched for the word 'fail' in the report, and nowhere can I find a suggestion that feminism has failed. It does however mention that feminism has always been criticised for focusing on the elite. The best I can find says

"Our findings suggest that mainstream debates often fail to reflect the everyday struggles and compromises that face women in the modern economy and society. We argue that the focus on individual empowerment and women at the top can obscure the greater need to build the collective power of women to shape the world they live in"

And I think it's valid to criticise feminism for focussing on the elite, or on the middle classes, isn't it?

I also thought some of the points about 1970s feminism focussing on women in high-paid jobs was being gently criticised - not because the authors seemed to be suggesting it was wrong, but that they seemed to me to be saying that there are ever more difficulties for women in very low paid jobs and we need to concentrate on that. That's why I found the bit about increasing numbers of women working part-time interesting. And the bit about there being fewer jobs for working-class men in, say, manufacturing, but more jobs for women in retail.

javabean Mon 01-Apr-13 20:10:57

Posted too soon!

I can't see how that statement translates into "feminism has failed for the working classes", it's more of a criticism of 'the mainstream' (the media??) for focusing on successful women and the issues they face rather than the issues faced by the majority of women.

YY, I agree.

javabean Mon 01-Apr-13 20:24:49

But does feminism focus on the elite or the middle classes? It's true that many women who have power and who champion change happen to be the elite, but that's because they have risen to a position where they have a platform to speak. Your average working-class women isn't going to be listened to on a large scale (neither is your average working-class man). But other issues (childcare, benefits, education, housing, flexible working, lack of status for carers) are often in the media, and these are the issues that do affect low-earners. Often they're not talked about from a feminist viewpoint, but they are key issues for working-class women.

I think feminism does focus on the middle classes, but because of the reasons you give, not because it's some kind of conspiracy. I agree lots of issues affect women across the board. But it's hard to talk about things that you don't know about, isn't it? There is a lot of focus on the old 'don't have babies, go to university, get a career' model.

KRITIQ Mon 01-Apr-13 22:12:18

I haven't read the article, but thanks for the link further up. I noticed there was no byline - just PA, so immediately I started to smell something fishy. After the BBC piece on Keir Starmer's report on rape, which highlighted the OPPOSITE of what the report showed, I wondered if the article was just spin that didn't reflect the substance.

Geez, you have got to watch out for this ALL the time now. I'm guessing the study itself barely mentions feminism, let alone "blames" a political movement for anything at all. That's just the PA editorial line. Sad thing is, I worry that most folks (of all classes, if I may) don't read media content with a critical eye, so won't even blink at the so-called "conclusions."

Indeed. sad

When I searched for it, there were loads of articles in all the papers about it - none I could see being particularly accurate.

FloraFox Mon 01-Apr-13 22:31:22

I haven't read all of the article but I can't help but be struck by the introductory two sentences:

"Arguably, feminism has been one of the most successful movements the UK has ever seen. The women’s liberation movement challenged assumptions about the role and ability of women in society, and led many women to broaden their own aspirations and expectations of life."

So far I don't see any statement that feminism "has failed working class women" either in the report or in the quotes from IPPR. This was in quotes in the headline and in the first line of the article. Looks like pretty shoddy journalism.

KRITIQ Mon 01-Apr-13 22:31:58

It all makes me a bit paranoid about talking to the press these days, (to be fair, I always have been!) and it must be infuriating when you do a piece of research or write a report, all very carefully and clearly worded with your conclusions and recommendations, only to have the media portray it as they damned well please. Gah!

YY, that sentence set the tone of the whole thing flora. I am about 3/4 the way through now (had to stop to watch GoT! grin), and it is very positive about feminism and very interesting, lots of quotations from women they interviewed.

It is disturbing how many articles have twisted the message or focussed on issues that are already familiar, rather than the actual findings that they're emphasizing.

kri - oh, heck yes, must be! I wish they could read this thread - I'd tell them it's brilliant and a fascinating read.

javabean Mon 01-Apr-13 23:08:45

Am also depressed at the complete misrepresentation of the original report! The sad thing is, if it weren't for this thread I probably wouldn't have looked in more detail, and would have thought the Guardian article reflects what was actually said.

But, I do think in part it shows how you really need to be clear and concise when summarising your work for others to read. Their abstract/intro is just a bit too long and wordy to really lend itself to being easily reported on. Not that I think that excuse absolves the journalist, but I've seen lots of links to long wordy reports recently where they don't make clear what they're trying to say.

LRD can you summarise the report? I don't think I'll get through the whole 71 pages!

Um ... I can, but I'll finish reading it first and that will be tomorrow by now! grin

I thought it was well written, but I take your point the intro isn't brilliant (they've C&Pd bits, too, which makes for disorienting reading IMO, as you come across the same sentences later on in the paper).

Darkesteyes Tue 02-Apr-13 22:11:57

Sorry but i feel i have to point this out....
When Xenia comes on to threads and makes comments like how all single mums on benefits should be made to do workfare, it adds fuel to the fire of articles like this one.

True. The same is true of a lot of anti-feminist commentators. But they're entitled to their say.

LynetteScavo Tue 02-Apr-13 22:26:40

I posted a long post once about how feminism isn't filtering down to working class women. (Sorry, that sound very derogatory, and it's not meant to.)

Feminism isn't touching the working class in the same way it is touching the middle class, and even upper class.

I'm not for one moment saying it's feminism fault that working class women are not on an equal footing with men. But the fact is that they aren't in the same way that way that middle and upper class women are. They question feminist should be asking is; why not?

snowshapes Wed 03-Apr-13 12:28:11

>>The question feminist should be asking is; why not?<<

That seems to me to be the point of this report, though. The Guardian piece is a misrepresentation of the original, which seems interesting and well-argued, and which I will read through properly.

I don't think it is fair to say that feminism has failed, it is more the case that equality is an on-going project and there are differences of opinion and views about what it should look like. There is an interesting point, which I only just skimmed at the moment, about the rise of neoliberalism, which in some ways, diluted the political strength of feminism - that is, the idea that legislatively, we have equality, so therefore it is up to the individual how they get along, ignoring class and social barriers (which are not put there by feminists). So, certainly the argument is much more complex than simply saying middle class women have benefitted at the expense of the working classes. The point may be true, but the reasons are more complex than simply blaming feminism.

That said, the suggestion that feminism was simply boardroom representation and the 'have it all' generation seems odd. This is a period where the rights to reproductive autonomy and things like that have, or should have, benefitted all women. If they have not, then again the question is why not?


The link doesn't work any more, it comes up with a 404 error. confused

However, I read most of it.

It didn't say feminism has failed and it certainly didn't say it's failed because of too much focus on gender equality. hmm

To be honest, the strongest themes were things I think most people on here would be familiar with, they're things we talk about a lot. They'd interviewed women across three generations in several areas of the country.

Small numbers of women went to university until pretty recently, but women who didn't go in earlier generations seem to reckon getting a job was easier than it is now.

javabean Wed 03-Apr-13 14:42:58

I can still get to the original report, via the main IPPR page:

Also, the people's panel on the Guardian is now with comments (someone posted the call for responses earlier in the thread), although I haven't read that properly yet:

So why isn't feminism helping the working classes? I don't know the answer, but my thoughts are that many of the successful women who are pushing for change aren't necessarily doing it in the name of feminism, but more for personal benefit. I'm not doing too badly in my career (still early career so too early to class myself as successful or not!) but it takes a lot of mental energy to get ahead in a male-dominated field and to negotiate the things that matter to me personally. I will push for promotion and training and flexible working and all the things that make my life easier, but I don't think they're the things that matter to women in lower-earning jobs. It's not that I don't care about lower earners, but more that I don't know what affects other women and what I can do about it. Most of my friends and acquaintances are also comfortable middle-class professionals, so I don't hear personal stories except sometimes here on MN. Also, I have skills and knowledge that make me highly employable, so I'm in a very good position for negotiating with employers. I think things are very very different when you are competing with many others for the same low-paid job.

Take something like childcare, which is always talked about as a big stumbling block for women. To be honest, although I'd prefer it to be cheaper, I can afford to pay for high quality flexible childcare, so it's not an issue that I really worry that much about.

I hope this doesn't come across as boasting, I really don't mean it to be, and I definitely don't want feminism to be leaving any women behind. But I think successful women are negotiating changes that work for successful women simply because they're in a position to do so using their own skills as a bargaining tool. Makes me think of the film "Made in Dagenham" where change came directly from the working class women, and the quote from Alice Walker "The most common way people give up their power is by thinking they don't have any."

VerySmallSqueak Wed 03-Apr-13 17:57:41

I am a manual worker and I don't have a university education.I imagine this would probably put me closest to the working class bracket although I do not identify with class.

I find it very hard to follow some debate because quite simply I don't always follow the language and references. So it would often appear that I have nothing to contribute.

Lower earning women are still interested in promotion and training and flexible working.And it is something that we also negotiate for within our roles.But,yes,affordable and accessible childcare is a huge issue.

The working class have been failed but it isn't by feminism.
Every advance made by feminism is made for every woman regardless of class.

javabean Wed 03-Apr-13 18:56:16

verysmallsqueak why do you think that working class women haven't been as successful as the middle classes when it comes to equality between men and women?

BTW, don't worry about not understanding the language and references - the smartest people I know are always asking for clarification of things they don't understand.

VerySmallSqueak Wed 03-Apr-13 19:35:30

I cannot speak for 'working class' women,nor suppose what anyone else might think.

From a personal perspective it is hard to challenge anything if you are unsure of your ground.I find it very easy to find myself out of my depth when I enter a debate because of language and concepts that I am unfamiliar with.It becomes very easy to feel intimidated.

In the workplace, that can easily be interpreted as meaning that if a woman wants to stand up for herself,for example by negotiating flexible working hours she first needs to know the relevant provisions in law and be able to confidently ensure that the law is adhered to.None of this is made particularly accessible or understandable.

I suppose I believe in making more women aware of what they can ask for and what they can negotiate and giving them the tools to do that.
I think Plain English is vital in presenting this to women.I think fighting for more women in power in Trade Unions is important.And, of course, fighting for childcare that doesn't cost more per hour than what I earn!

The thing is that I don't know how you get this message across,any more than anyone else does.

But as far as I am concerned,the more women that reach levels where they have a platform the better for all of us.

javabean Wed 03-Apr-13 20:23:15

I completely agree that a lot of information out there is inaccessible. I struggle to understand information about employment rights etc, especially from government websites. Sometimes I think the authors of this info are scared of writing in plain English because they think it doesn't make them sound as good! It's an interesting point and has never really occurred to me before that many people can struggle just trying to find out their rights.

Confidence is a big issue for many women, whatever their level. But I guess it's a much bigger problem when combined with a lack of knowledge?

VerySmallSqueak Wed 03-Apr-13 20:40:51

Exactly java.

Although I have no formal higher education I have self taught myself a lot about law,particularly employment law,through necessity.I have had to actively seek out what I know.It needs to be brought to womens' consciousness not left to them to have to go out and find it.

Not only is much language inaccessible but also the internet isn't accessible to many including the older age group.Computers weren't taught at school to a lot of us. If you have always worked in a manual job,very often you don't learn through work.
Also,because there is so much low paid part time work out there as opposed to full time work,women are more isolated in their work life experience imo.And less likely to join a Union I would imagine.

I think a lack of confidence is classless. I think you are right in that it's hard to find a voice if you don't know what to say and what to ask for.

VerySmallSqueak Thu 04-Apr-13 00:02:18

I think there is possibly also the aspect that the supervisors and lower level management that women at the bottom end of the pay scale work under are more likely to be uninformed about what they can and can't do within the workplace (or more likely to disregard certain things - such as the right to take emergency time off for dependants).
I think they are probably also less likely to be challenged on this.

Dervel Fri 05-Apr-13 09:10:25

This is hardly the fault of feminism, it is the wider fault of society. I think it's poppycock to frame the discussion this way. Feminism has been fighting an uphill battle against entrenched interests, and a patriarchal paradigm. Advances have been made, ground has been won, but this sort of change was hardly going to be won in a generation, coupled with the fact any societal change is going to have unforeseen consequences.

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