the f word.

I remember reading on the road when I was a teenage girl and fantasizing that I, too, would jump on to railway cars and become a rambling drifter like woody guthrie. I ran away from home a lot as a child, and I remember actually hitchhiking as a teenager, but only until a guy I knew was murdered after picking up hitchhikers, then I stopped. but one of the things I always resented growing up, when I came to understand it, was that women are not equal to men when it comes to freedom. it’s dangerous to jog through the park by yourself. it’s dangerous if your car breaks down on the highway. while it is true that occasionally a female kills her husband, in many more cases a woman is killed by her husband, boyfriend or ex (at least 30% of females murdered in the US are). this infuriates me to no end.
because it is 2008 a lot of people are pontificating and ruminating on things that happened in 1968. in this piece erica jong laments the passing of feminism, and while stories like this and this are revolting reminders that we are still not safe on our own, feminism is hardly dead. over the years I have interviewed many women and even some of those who are living what appear to be extremely feminist lifestyles are afraid of the word for some reason. and there are a lot of women who have benefited from the feminist action from earlier generations who turn their nose up at the whole idea of feminism, not that they are smart enough to even know what it is (almost everything on TV is so antifeminist that it’s scary).
however! I do believe that things are different, if only in the world where I live. men are more enlightened than they used to be! women have proven that anything boys can do they can do as well if not better (though we’re not getting paid as much still). I have no doubt that people and things like riot grrrl, sleater-kinney, kathleen hanna, ladyfest and girls rock camp (watch the trailer) make the world a better place, and not just for girls. but I think it’s a bit much for ms. jong to say that nothing has changed. maybe there’s a long way to go, but some things have changed. comments, people?

One Reply to “the f word.”

  1. ‘some things have changed’? that’s the understatement of the last half-century. in the developed world (like your country and mine), relations between the two sexes have radically altered in the last 50 years. insofar as these alterations have been in line with, or produced by, the goals and efforts of feminism, I think that they have been changes for the better. this has been among the most dramatic and beneficial aspects of the modern period (aided by technological advance, changes in the nature of work and so on), and more locally it has almost certainly been the greatest single success story for progressives – in an era which (certainly since the end of the 1970s, for instance) has by no means evidently been a happy one for the left, liberals or people who would define themselves as progressives. the continuing achievements of feminism, and the consolidation of what was so painfully wrenched from an unjust order in the most evidently visible and dynamic years of the second wave (let alone the first wave), comprise that rare thing: good news in a world so often bad and hard.

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