Today scores of young and not so young women boast their empowerment and proudly assert they are not feminists. I totally agree with the latter claim and marvel at the disingenuity of the former.
Feminism was never an overarching or exclusive one church faith. Women can choose their own philosophies. But the body of writing that is considered feminist was and is an important tool in the advance of women. The biggest challenge to our progress since we won the vote however is our intellectual cowardice.
This took the form of a cringing middle class respectability decreed by men but enforced by women. Women’s liberation challenged this to some degree successfully fifty plus years ago. But damaging compromises and fear of broadbased activist campaigns have led to failure to advance progress for all women. National’s anti-state campaign last election tapped into anti-feminism very successfully.
Today’s cringing respectability is a far cry from that of the past. It is still decreed by men and enforced by women and offers an insight into why so many women are cowed into declaring they are not a feminist. This (unsolicited) statement, which has an unpleasant whiff of guilt by association politics, is volunteered because they feel their image might be tarnished if the opportunity for denial is not taken.
And what image is that? I suggest it is that of the freewheeling, puerile sexuality boasted by young women. Male voices still dominate the markets, media, advertising and entertainment industries as well as politics, academia, churches, art and culture. The proliferation of porn, early sexualistion, Barbie dolls and their myriad of associates, rife sexism and skanky ho fashion dictates are not liberating. Such sexual objectification on the scale the girl child and young woman are now subjected to are both degrading and diminishing, the antithesis of individual choice.
For all their empowerment women still cannot make their own choice in regard to abortion. Two certificates must be obtained from state agents (called consultants) and meet certain criteria. Nor, apparently, do they have the confidence to require condom usage. One of the saddest outcomes of freewheeling sexuality and perennial partying is that by the time they may want to have children decline in fertility or disease have made it impossible. The bung tubes blues is but one symptom of a halt, if not a step backward in the social, economic and political progress for women.