Week 5 Day 1 Discussion Question 4

Susan Faludi summarizes the backlash against feminism as follows:

Women are unhappy precisely because they are free. Women are enslaved by their own liberation. They have grabbed at the gold ring of independence, only to miss the one ring that really matters. They have gained control of their fertility, only to destroy it. They have pursued their own professional dreams—and lost out on the greatest female adventure. The women’s movement, as we are told time and again, has proved women’s own worst enemy. (2)

As young women in 2022, do you foresee any tension in your adult lives between pursuing a career and living independently, on the one hand, and the possible rewards of couplehood and parenthood, on the other hand?  Alternatively, does the term “feminist” carry any negative connotations for your generation, as it apparently did for many young women coming of age in the 1990s?

4 thoughts on “Week 5 Day 1 Discussion Question 4

  • March 9, 2022 at 2:20 pm

    There is definitely tension between the idea of having an independent life and a family life for me, and I often feel like I will one day have to choose between one or the other. I don’t think I will ever have children, part of that is due to my queerness, but it also has to do with the fact that I don’t want to experience the time rush of finding a career, a partner, a place to live, and setting aside time and resources to prepare for raising a human all before its “too late”. It’s odd telling older family members this, especially because they see it as being irresponsible of me to not want to have children; it’s as if it is my duty to society and my family to have kids before I’m 30. I think that I have the perfectly justified choice to not have kids or settle down in the next 4 years, but despite this, I sometimes still feel the general disapproval from others.

    As for the word “feminist”, I do think that it has negative connotations for my generation, but less so than women in the 90s. I think my generation’s perspective on feminism is less of the “angry feminist” mindset and has instead moved into being more about autonomy and independence in femininity. I think a lot more of the backlash against today’s feminism has to do with ideas of women “talking back too much” and “being too slutty” or “too gay” in response to body positivity, sex positivity, and the #MeToo movement where people are speaking out against abusers and mistreatment.

  • March 9, 2022 at 1:31 am

    I feel a tension in the way of “timing things right.” For those who have graduate school plans or career ambitions, a lot of women will feel pressure to find a partner, complete their education, begin a career, and start a family all within the dictates of fertility. Some companies pay women to freeze their eggs or buy donor eggs to avoid losing their labor at their firms. It seems that women are still at a disadvantage if they choose to get pregnant when it comes to career progress, which might further narrow this somewhat imaginary timeline during which a woman might think she has to do all of this.

    I think that during the 2016 Clinton-Trump election, feminism entered the mainstream and consequently received renewed waves of support from young women who were watching their first real election cycle unfold. At that point, it seemed like public opinion on feminism had generally become positive. After that, I think that more women began to call themselves ‘feminists,’ but there was also a lot of subsequent intra-feminist splintering. During the Women’s March after Trump’s inauguration, images circulated of white women wearing pink pussy hats, becoming a symbol of an exclusive, mainstream feminism, which I think inevitably cheapened the agenda of feminism in the eyes of the public. Now, different labels for feminist philosophies are used to point to varying layers of ignorance and privilege in the mainstream discourse: white feminism, choice feminism, liberal feminism, radical feminism. Of course, the Women’s March didn’t invent these designations, but I think that they’ve become more popular in the mainstream discussion of feminism today.

  • March 8, 2022 at 1:16 pm

    I completely agree with Priya, as there is a large emphasis on age. As a young women in 2022, there is a pressure to evidently have a family and have children. I think there are many young women my age who fear finding a partner in the latter half of their 20’s. As far as choosing a career or choosing a family, I feel like there is almost an inverse pressure on women today compared to the women in the 1990’s. Too frequently women today are judged for marrying too young. They are judged if they choose to indulge in motherhood before having a career. Whereas if you didn’t up and marry as a young women in the 1990’s you were frowned upon. The truth is women should feel like they actually have a choice to do what they want with their life, whether they choose to marry young or have a career and then a family, or just simply have a career that brings fulfillment to their life. I think the “motherly adventures” are still a place of pressure towards women today. However, that pressure is more in your later 20’s. Additionally, similar to Priya, there were definitely negative connotations towards feminists growing up. I grew up in Arizona, which is definitely more conservative than New England and the feminist movement was very much so thought of as a group of women who thought that women were superior to men and that all men are horrible. As I have grown older, as well as my generation, I believe we have come to understand that many of the feminist movements are more aimed at equally, and deconstructing systems which marginalize women. Feminism certainly held a reputation of radicalism in my society when I was growing up.

  • March 7, 2022 at 1:58 pm

    I believe that as a young woman in 2022, wanting to pursue a career and live independently is more socially accepted — and even expected. However, as women become older and enter their late 20s and early 30s, society pressures them to choose between a career and a family, the latter being the priority. This perspective had changed from the late 1900s when women weren’t expected to pursue fulfilling careers at any point but more so encouraged to have families as soon as possible. Now, women are discriminated against based on age, where older women that are not in long-term relationships or have children are seen as black sheep. Pursuing a career now is just a means of temporary satisfaction and keeps you occupied as you wait to find your partner and have children. The tension is still there, although it is less obvious as a woman in her early 20s. I also believe the term “feminist” does not carry a significant negative connotation as it did a few years ago. Growing up, being a feminist was synonymous with hating “all” men and wanting women to be perceived as dominant rather than equal to men. Now, I would say that many women are feminists because we have realized how deeply gender inequality affects us — ranging from the wage gap to equitable healthcare. However, the women who say they are not feminists still uphold the idea that being one is inherently evil and means rejecting the more conservative norms.

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