Streams

That's My Issue: the New Feminism

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

The recent dialogue around feminism is entirely focused on straight women, mostly with high-paying jobs. It no longer takes into account lesbians or women who lead non-traditional lifestyles.

The main trends in media discussions about feminism revolve around how to manage work and having children, how to manage gender dynamics in relationships with men, and once again, birth control. As a lesbian without children, none of these topics relate to me. Being a feminist woman now means negotiating power issues and role expectations with your husband, finding the "equitable" balance in parenting and house chores and wage-earning, and things like whether to change your name when you get married.

These common "feminist" issues are not my issues. The inclusive and idealistic rhetoric of earlier feminist movements has been replaced by the inevitable challenges of the realities of two sexes coexisting with inherent power imbalances and conflicting ingrained social norms. For people like me who do not have to deal with these struggles regularly in a profound way, today's feminism does not represent me.

Lesbian rights and women's rights used to be synonymous in many ways.

Now there is almost no overlap. The feminist movement has been sidetracked, even put on hold, as it focuses on the roles that empowered, mainstream women play in their day to day lives. There is no voice any more for those of us with alternative aspirations and lifestyles within today's feminist conversations.

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Comments [3]

Mandy from NYC

I agree with Annie. Those of us whose issues are complex are, and have always been, on the margins of the feminist movement. By centering the needs of people that are most intertwined and complex and embedded, instead of simply grabbing for the lowest hanging fruit, one reaches for and attacks the root causes of the problems. That's how you dismantle systems of oppression: you uproot them.

Oct. 06 2012 08:34 AM
ER

Really? How about equal pay for equal work? Affordable health care for you and your children? Justice for victims of sexual abuse and rape? Protection from domestic violence? Last time I looked, these were feminist issues.

Aug. 21 2012 06:51 PM
KateP from Scarborough, NY

I disagree. I see feminism today as a 'big tent' which is held together by one theme...as author Caitlin Moran says ..."do you have a vagina? Would you like to be the person in charge of it? If so...congratulations! You're a feminist!"

That, to my mind, is the political issue that unites all women.

Aug. 21 2012 06:28 PM

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