Feminism | Posted by Julie Z on 11/10/2009
Do It For The Teens
When my peers find out that I am a feminist blogger, I am generally faced with a few questions. “So you’re a lesbian?” is a pretty common one. “What’s a feminist?” is another. I have honed answering these questions into an art form, where I am able to answer both educationally and with a snippet of snark. It’s statements like, “We don’t need feminism anymore,” that truly give me pause.
Of course we still need feminism — but the reasons aren’t so simple anymore. We still don’t have equal pay, it’s true, but there are women who have truly impressive and powerful careers. Women don’t sit at home while men bring home the bacon anymore; in fact they’re 50% of the workforce. Statistically, it would appear that we’ve made such great strides as to be on the cusp of equality. But still, the need for feminism is beyond facts, beyond statistics – it’s embedded in our culture.
The Shriver Report truly hits the nail on the head in this respect. Yes, women have become 50% of the workforce, it acknowledges, and now more than ever, women are sharing economic and domestic responsibilities with their husbands, if not becoming the primary breadwinner. In fact, the report points out that 4 out of 5 American families with children at home do not fit the traditional male-as-the-breadwinner, stay-at-home-mom model. Despite this, our culture has not transcended sexism as evident in statistics of unequal pay, domestic violence and, more pervasively, in the way the media still portrays women; however the mindset of equality is undeniably in place in the way our culture is shifting on the level of individual families.
The problem is our government and many businesses are slow on the uptake with the mental groundwork that has been laid in our country. Both parents may be working, but problems like the lack of flexibility in work hours, the inadequacy of health insurance for women and their families, and a variety of other issues indicate that the structure of our country simply hasn’t caught up.
My generation of girls will enter the work force in greater numbers than any generation before us. Certain powerful female characters on TV shows (yes, typical to our extremist culture it seems that it’s all or nothing in TV characters…), our schools, even our mothers have built us up to believe that we can take over the world, and it’s true – I believe we individually have the ability to do so. However, it’s clear that there is a disconnect between this capability and the reality of the workforce we will be entering. We want to be the CEO of a major corporation by the time we’re 40, we want to be involved parents, and we expect our partners to be reaching for the same goals while also supporting us in our own endeavors. But is our country ready for us to do so?
The Shriver Report asks this very question, and challenges our society to recognize our structural shortcomings. My generation will enter the workforce in less than a decade. Previous generations have left an overwhelming mess for us to address in our professional lives. We are up to the challenge, but we need help. ??So, for my sake, for the children and grandchildren of America’s sake, I hope the adults of this nation will take this report seriously, and dedicate themselves to change.
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