07 September 2008

the woes of feminism

I have posted this in response to a post at the lovely BareNest's blog. I thought I had posted this previously but couldn't find it so figured I would stick it up again as it seems to be a topic being chatted about lately in my circles.

What's new, pussycat? The wo-o-o-o-oes of feminism
Jim Schembri
The Age
March 31, 2007
When a term such as 'hot pussy' can be seen as empowering for women, you know it's still a man's world, writes Jim
WHEN most people consider the state of modern feminism they think of equal rights, respect in the workplace, political
influence, social change, stuff like that. I used to, too. But now when I consider the state of modern feminism I think of
just two words: "hot pussy".

Tap "hot pussy" into a search engine and you pretty much get what you expect — hardcore porn. "Hot pussy" is
also the term Channel 10 is using to advertise its new reality TV program, Pussycat Dolls Presents: The Search for the
Next Doll. The show chronicles the talent quest to fill a vacancy in the popular girl group whose main claim to fame is offthe-
chart sexiness. Nothing wrong with that.
The "hot pussy" hardcore porn reference is just a bit of cheekiness. It's nothing to take seriously. Not any more.
Time was when this would have been a five-alarm example of "objectification", an archaic term from the 1970s referring
to the demeaning practice of portraying women as mere sex objects. But today "hot pussy" doesn't raise a murmur.
Three reasons: (1) we've loosened up; (2) "objectification" has been rebadged "empowerment"; and (3) women are
complicit in much of this "empowering".
Here's the thinking: when women take control of their own sexual exploitation it "empowers" them. This is perfectly true.
But it "empowers" them to basically do just one thing, which is to extract money from the men who are watching them
"empower" themselves.
This would rile feminist pioneers such as Gloria Steinem, the late Andrea Dworkin and Germaine Greer. But Steinem and
Greer don't talk the talk much any more. Ironically, they now reflect the state of modern feminism — too tired, too
complacent, too irrelevant to make a fuss.
The sad truth is that most young women have no idea who these women are or what they stood for. But they sure know
about Paris, Lindsay, Naomi, Anna Nicole, Jessica, Christina, the Pussycat Dolls, Britney and the rest.
These are the icons that condition them to do the very thing feminism opposes, which is to define themselves by what
men want, and then call it "empowerment" as though they are doing themselves a favour.

It was a man's world in the 1970s, when modern feminism got into gear. Today, more than 35 years later, it is more of a
man's world than ever. Men rule. Still.
And I'm fatigued by it. All men do is start wars. I want Hillary to be the next leader of the free world. It needs a good
cleaning. Bring on matriarchy. You think men would mind? The Amazon concept of keeping men alive solely for the
purposes of reproduction is an idea most men would have no complaint with, so long as they got free beer and a decent
new-release movie channel on cable.
Yet women are so compliant. Why? Where are the firebrands? I don't want to hear Pink or the Spice Girls yabber on
about "girl power". I want to see it. Why aren't workplace child-care centres mandated by law? Why don't they build
enough toilets for women at concert venues? Why do women wait patiently in line? Why aren't they stomping on the
venue manager's head?
Feminism has changed society, sure, but only in bits. I look around and despair. Corporate boards are still stacked with
balding heads and bad moustaches.
Politics, film, TV, literature and other media are still male domains. And where are the feminist action heroes? We got
Ripley in Alien and Sarah Connor in Terminator, but there's been no follow through.
But for the ultimate sign of feminism's failure to gain traction in pop culture go to any newsstand. For there, staring back
at you, will be the latest batch of homogenised, robotic females doing their utmost to fulfil the male ideal of what they
should look like.
Feminism is in such a poor state you could even say "Hey, hot pussy!" and nobody would take offence. Nobody, that is,
except maybe the young woman behind the counter who wishes you were talking about her.
Jim Schembri is a senior writer.
Womens Forum Australia
http://www.womensforumaustralia.org Powered by Joomla! Generated: 9 March, 2008, 00:19

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