Sunday, November 08, 2009
Getting a Clue about Feminism
I was again reminded of this goal when Grace of GRACEful Retirement commented on my blog post: Ten non-fiction books that help us understand the world, that Betty Friedan's book "The Feminine Mystique" helped her better understand the world.
Now, I may have finally stumbled upon the motivation to actually fulfill this goal; I’ve discovered the reading challenge Women Unbound. The challenge runs from November 1, 2009-November 30, 2010. Participants are encouraged to read nonfiction and fiction books related to the rather broad idea of ‘women’s studies.’ I am signing up at the Suffragette level: which requires I read at least eight books, including at least three nonfiction ones.
The challenge begins with the following meme:
1. What does feminism mean to you? Does it have to do with the work sphere? The social sphere? How you dress? How you act?
2. Do you consider yourself a feminist? Why or why not?
3. What do you consider the biggest obstacle women face in the world today? Has that obstacle changed over time, or does it basically remain the same?
What does feminism mean to me?
I grew up in a household where my dad controlled my mother’s every move. She was a housewife living in the country without a driver’s license. She had to ask for every penny she needed (not to mention a ride to the store); justifying each purchase whether it was a card for a sick friend, a birthday present for one of her six children or a tube of lipstick for herself. I vowed at a young age my life was going to be different; I was going to have my own money and control my own destiny. As I’ve gotten older, my feminist ideals have broadened to include all women; no woman should have to live a life of oppression.
Do you consider yourself a feminist? Why or why not?
I was a feminist from the moment I was exposed to the idea; I grew up in the 70’s in the midst of the “women’s movement.” I thought a lot about equal rights for women throughout high school and college. Actually I considered myself a feminist right up to the moment I was hired at my first “real” job which I attained only after I proved I could type. After that, all thoughts of feminism took a back seat to actually working, my marriage and just living life.
What do you consider the biggest obstacle women face in the world today? Has that obstacle changed over time, or does it basically remain the same?
Most recent media accounts list "lack of time" as the modern women’s biggest obstacle. Statistics have shown, not only do many women work outside of the home but continue, despite their male partner providing some assistance, to perform the majority of child rearing and housecleaning duties including staying home with sick children, leaving little time for themselves.
Despite Penelope Trunk’s claim the gender pay gap no longer exists, I think the reality is women still need to fight for equality in the work place. Just last week my friend Kate, who works for a Milwaukee manufacturing firm, asked a male colleague, "What do you have to do to get promoted around here?" She was told you need to be a male who puts in a lot of face time. And as to Penelope’s claim the pay gap no longer exists; check out this business week article, this article and this one.
I think part of the problem is most women; including myself, do not promote themselves and their abilities as confidently as their male co-workers do. If they do happen to be one of the rare women who does promote herself they are labeled a B----.
Footnotes to this post:
1. I titled this post "Getting a Clue about Feminism," after reading an interview where Susan Jane Gilman described her book, Hypocrite in a Pouffy White Dress, which is actually a collection of personal essays, as “getting a clue” on race, sex, injustice what makes other people who they are.
2. The Woman Unbound challenge is my first book challenge.
3. This post includes my first meme.
4. It will be interesting to see if my answers to the above meme questions are different at the end of the challenge.
Can you recommend a book that helped you meditate on feminism?