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Worried about young women and modern feminism

(21 Posts)
Jkrowling92 Tue 21-Jul-20 17:45:47

Hi everyone.

I’m 28 and have identified as a feminist since I was about 12. I know feminism can mean so many things to different people and we aren’t a monolithic group however I always interpreted that at the bare minimum it was about advocating for women’s rights. Anyways, I thought feminism was on the rise in my peer group and younger girls. I mean most mainstream pop stars are describing themselves as feminist, but honestly since this Trans movement has gathered momentum, it’s highlighted to me how much modern feminism has been corrupted. As in, I can’t even have a debate online with some of these young feminists about why prostitution isn’t ‘sex work’ and why surrogacy is selling women’s bodies. I know that there are disagreements about these, but they don’t even address the argument. In their minds it all boils down to choice and every women’s choice is inheritantly feminist. P**sy popping for the patriarchy is now the pinnacle of positive sexual liberation and feminism.

Anyway it’s making me mad. Feminism has been diluted. Why are so few of these debates being had on public forums? Makes me worried for the future.

OP’s posts: |
wellbehavedwomen Tue 21-Jul-20 18:05:29

Dr Jessica Taylor just turned 30. I suspect you're a lot less alone than you think - it's just that women who recognise the ways in which we're harmed because if our sex are being bullied and shamed and harassed to such a point, they're silent unless they are sure the people they're talking to are on side. And so assume it's rarer than it is.

It's also worth pointing out that when I was a teenager, 20 years ago, it was seen as sad and embarrassing to be an open feminist. There weren't that many of us, then, either.

Liberal feminism is just rebranding of the women who always held the same sorts of opinions, and always said that they weren't feminists, but... and then agreed that you need equal pay, and abortion rights, but had absolutely no idea of how hard it had been to secure any rights, or what stood in the way of progress on them, or even that activism was still necessary. The assumption was that equality had been achieved already. Despite a plethora of data to the contrary. And again, same sort of choice rhetoric. I don't see that anything has changed except the willingness to adopt the term itself. The trick will be to find those women who do recognise the way we're losing ground, and really are feminists - prepared to centre women in their activism - and work with them.

It's always been a small number of activists willing and ready to change things. It always will be. Fortunately, that's all you need.

I don't know if it's worth emailing Jessica Taylor and asking if she can recommend groups for young women such as yourself. It must be very isolating. I thought I was the only GC woman I knew - turns out almost all my friends are, all assuming nobody else was! But I can't be fired, in my role, so coming out on Facebook was low risk for me. I know that not everyone has that luxury.

Collidascope Tue 21-Jul-20 18:12:31

I agree completely. It's man-acceptable feminism, isn't it? The kind that doesn't threaten anyone. The kind that is pretty sexy really. The kind that's more about equality than liberation - which quickly becomes about centring men. Really fucks me off. Older women fought and fought for our rights to certain rights and so many younger women seem happy to just throw them away.

Collidascope Tue 21-Jul-20 18:13:49

*Our rights to certain things

TorkTorkBam Tue 21-Jul-20 18:14:24

I remember a few years decades ago when hoards of women thought it was terribly liberating to do pole dancing. I watched them thinking, um, no, that's not being a woman liberated from the patriarchy, that's being a woman liberated from slut-shaming, which is a good thing generally, yet here is mainly being used to entrench the patriarchal concepts of women existing for men's consumption.

Why are you going along with it I would sometimes say? They thought I was boring and prudish. Am neither boring nor prudish.

Divoc2020 Tue 21-Jul-20 18:24:05

I have older sons, but I have been VERY worried about and for their female friends and peers. I see how many of them have, from a very young age, fallen into the 'pleasing men' category - dressing and acting like barbie dolls and posting stuff on social media which is only just short of porn.
There seem so few strong role models for those that don't want to conform to stereotypes.
I also now see these young women leaving uni and going into the workplace and embracing #BeKind and letting themselves be relegated to the bottom of the pile in favour of every supposedly oppressed minority group. And yet they also seem largely oblivious of the reality of how they are being treated!

It's a shit time for young women right now.

Floisme Tue 21-Jul-20 18:32:22

I don't think there's ever been a golden age when it was cool to be a feminist. In the 70s we were told we had no sense of humour and couldn't get a man yada yada yada.

I also think that - largely because of the work of feminists - young women don't experience quite the same shit that we did. I know there's a different order of shit but there's improved access to education and there aren't the same battles for reproductive and employment rights. I think you can easily get through your twenties and even thirties before you really come up against it. Hell I've even worked with young women who don't accept that men are stronger and faster than us!

Plus I was also dismissive of the generation of women who came before me and only now, in my 60s, do I understand and appreciate what they did for me. It seems to be a recurring thing with the human race - that we're not quite as smart as we think we are and have to learn things the hard way. So although it can be frustrating and annoying, I'm reasonably optimistic for the most part.

quixote9 Tue 21-Jul-20 18:41:20

Hi, OP! Don't worry about the delusionals. Just always remember you're right. Don't let them mess with your head. The truth is the truth no matter how few people see it at the time. Eventually the rest have no choice but to see it because it's all there is.

Those young women racing to the bottom of the pile? They're just trying to be admired any way they can (just like anybody else, really). Being non-threatening at the bottom of the pile is the only route available to them. In a few years they'll discover nobody thinks the bottom of the pile is all that cool either, that, actually, there's no way for them to real people in that setup. And then they'll feel lied to and abandoned.

You're smart avoiding that whole detour.

Jeeeez Tue 21-Jul-20 18:47:24

Hi. I totally agree with what's already been said, most importantly, that you're not alone! Maybe being in my mid 50s means that I came of age at a perfect time wrt feminism?
And your post has left me wondering if we should be using channels such as YouTube and Instagram to get our version/the history of feminism out there? Use comedians such as Bridget Christie..?

ThatsHowWeRowl Tue 21-Jul-20 19:13:11

I agree completely. It's man-acceptable feminism, isn't it? The kind that doesn't threaten anyone. The kind that is pretty sexy really. The kind that's more about equality than liberation - which quickly becomes about centring men. Really fucks me off. Older women fought and fought for our rights to certain rights and so many younger women seem happy to just throw them away.

This. I always think of young women who think they are fully fledged feminists because they once stood in front of that neon pink 'Well Behaved Women Don't Make History' sign in Tonight Josephine, drink in hand, pouting to the camera and then posted it on Instagram.

Was just having a discussion on another thread about how it's actually quite difficult to find a cause that truly only benefits females, that has a lot of support.

Jkrowling92 Tue 21-Jul-20 22:20:34

@wellbehavedwoman Thank you, that’s really reassuring to hear. I will email Dr Jessica Taylor.

OP’s posts: |
Jkrowling92 Tue 21-Jul-20 22:33:48

Jeeeez

Hi. I totally agree with what's already been said, most importantly, that you're not alone! Maybe being in my mid 50s means that I came of age at a perfect time wrt feminism?
And your post has left me wondering if we should be using channels such as YouTube and Instagram to get our version/the history of feminism out there? Use comedians such as Bridget Christie..?

I’m think yes with Instagram. I’ve been replying to posts, getting shit piled, standing my ground and being left bye bitch responses. It’s just the resistance to any kind of debate which I find frustrating. The sheer determination to think every woman’s choice is feminist with no substantive evidence. I also think there is a lot of misinformation out there. Someone replied the other day that prostitution( they used the word sec work of course) was safe and a good way to make money in Europe.

OP’s posts: |
Thelnebriati Tue 21-Jul-20 22:35:40

Gail Dines recently uploaded a video that worth watching, Bringing Up Girls in a Patriarchal Porn Culture. From about 20:00 she talks about this topic, and explains why feminism is not about empowering the individual; and how 'mainstream' (liberal) feminism is actively undermining their well being.

www.youtube.com/watch?v=u7sX2jj532g

BacklashStarts Tue 21-Jul-20 22:40:01

You’re not alone. I’m 36, so yes, rather older than you. But, I have found that people who don’t ponce about flashing their woke credentials for likes are generally much more on our wavelength. For example at work there has been a spate of women (not men… Shock) putting their pronouns in their signature bar. Thankfully this is not required some people are just choosing to do it and I have found if you say things like “oh, a woman called Val likes to be called she who would’ve known” in a slightly confused rather than sarcastic way you soon sniff out who has the same views as you.

noblegiraffe Tue 21-Jul-20 22:51:05

Feminism shouldn’t be about celebrating women making exactly the choices that men want them to make.

Feminism should be about looking at why women are making those choices.

It seems like anything that men may want women to do from selling their body for sex to wearing a veil is being rebranded as liberation.

Thinking of those poor girls in Rotherham who kept returning to their abusers, apparently of their own volition, it’s clear that if people are groomed well enough their choices aren’t free.

Jkrowling92 Tue 21-Jul-20 22:54:27

BacklashStarts

You’re not alone. I’m 36, so yes, rather older than you. But, I have found that people who don’t ponce about flashing their woke credentials for likes are generally much more on our wavelength. For example at work there has been a spate of women (not men… Shock) putting their pronouns in their signature bar. Thankfully this is not required some people are just choosing to do it and I have found if you say things like “oh, a woman called Val likes to be called she who would’ve known” in a slightly confused rather than sarcastic way you soon sniff out who has the same views as you.

grin I’ll be sure to try that!

OP’s posts: |
Apileofballyhoo Tue 21-Jul-20 22:56:33

I'm starting to think there should be some kind of women's rights education in schools. The only things I remember learning about was the suffragettes and having to give up your job if you got married (Irish Civil Service at some stage). I thought it was all done and dusted in western countries anyway when I was a teen. Except for my mother putting up with my father.

Selfraising Wed 22-Jul-20 09:11:40

Floisme

I don't think there's ever been a golden age when it was cool to be a feminist. In the 70s we were told we had no sense of humour and couldn't get a man yada yada yada.

I also think that - largely because of the work of feminists - young women don't experience quite the same shit that we did. I know there's a different order of shit but there's improved access to education and there aren't the same battles for reproductive and employment rights. I think you can easily get through your twenties and even thirties before you really come up against it. Hell I've even worked with young women who don't accept that men are stronger and faster than us!

Plus I was also dismissive of the generation of women who came before me and only now, in my 60s, do I understand and appreciate what they did for me. It seems to be a recurring thing with the human race - that we're not quite as smart as we think we are and have to learn things the hard way. So although it can be frustrating and annoying, I'm reasonably optimistic for the most part.

I think this used to be the case, 15-20 years ago, so for certain women who are now 30s. We had the 90s childhood, could do all school subjects boys did, got access to birth control, university education, and did it wearing jeans and DM boots. In this scenario, yeah, you often don't see the need for feminism until you become a mother, (or until you reach the age people expect you to...)

But look at the porn culture today. Yes, young women in the UK generally still have those hard won reproductive and educational rights etc, but the day to day sexualised abuse they recieve is staggering. There can't be a young woman or teenage girl alive in the UK who has not experienced sexism based on this porn culture. And then to have this abuse itself labelled as feminism and empowerment...
It not the same shit as not being able to access employment, no. But I think we need to see that the tide has turned backwards. Things were better for a while, certainly on the surface. And now they are terrible.

highame Wed 22-Jul-20 09:21:41

The tide has definitely turned, and not in a good way.

We really have to look at education, there's a whole pile going on that's not good for young women

When someone says 'people are coming out of university more stupid than when they went in' that really is time to look at what's going on

notyourhandmaid Wed 22-Jul-20 15:33:33

I definitely feel like we're in a feminist backlash right now - it was 'cool' for a while (i.e. companies could make money from it) but now one must only be 'an intersectional feminist', which somehow seems to mean only ever looking at the 'intersections' and never at what it intersects with, i.e. the discrimination and oppression due to being of the female sex.

I think there's also something to be said for how long you've considered yourself a feminist for. I find that women who weren't particularly feminist as teenagers and then 'found' it tend to be the ones in their 20s and 30s screaming all the woke slogans ('trans women are women! sex work is work!' etc) without being capable of having good-faith discussions about it.

Floisme Wed 22-Jul-20 16:07:34

I think the tide has stalled (if you'll excuse me mixing my metaphors). I don't think it has turned. That's how progress works - it falters and stops and then it restarts.

As for sexualised abuse - I really don't want to start talking about what my generation had to put up with because I'll sound like a walking Monty Python sketch, but I think we've forgotten - if we were there in the first place - how bad some things were.

That's not to say young women don't face new and different challenges but personally I would swop with them any day.

As I recall, the 90s ladettes were just as patronising and dismissive as this generation - and yet look how many of them have ended up on here wink

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