exciting, informative, snarky, and very likely fabricated tales of life as an american expat in london

all the things we should have done

by Jen at 5:46 pm on 23.10.2007 | 4 Comments
filed under: like a fish needs a bicycle

while running today i was listening to an interview with an old skool feminist activist, one of the early second wave bra-burning radicals. and boy was she angry – angry at the failure of following generations to build on the momentum of their work, angry at what she views as the luxury of indifference.

i admit to feeling guilty as i listened. i admit to often feeling too complacent. in my own life, i encounter few challenges – i have career mobility, a husband who sees me as his equal, full and free access to reproductive choice. and while i still find myself surprised by many sexist cultural norms over here (prospective employers asking women about their plans for family, topless women in newpapers, patronising attitudes by older generations of men) there are few things to rouse me from my stupor. so much of the feminist agenda is politically polarised in the u.s., that here, where conflict over these issues is far more subdued, it’s easy to slide into daily apathy.

i talk the talk, but don’t often walk the walk. i’ll bitch about my younger counterparts embracing stereotypes tarted up as “choice”, or rail against those women who definitively reject feminism as being unfeminine. i’ll spout off about pejorative terms like “femi-nazi” and “man-hater”. but what do i actually do to change any of it?

i’ve always felt that a significant part of my identity as a woman is bound up in feminism – and yet somehow i’ve become one of those women the interviewee was directing her ire and disappointment at. i’ve never intended or aspired to be a gloria steinem – but it’s definitely time for a wakeup call. just what form that will take remains to be seen.

kate bush – this woman’s work

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  • 1

    Comment by Thomas Foolery

    23.10.2007 @ 18:43 pm

    and what a lot of fun you’ll be, i’m sure -)

    when you confess that there’s not much to get riled up about, then deliberately set off to get riled, what you end up with will probably be some form of extremism. It doesn’t sound very healthy.

    I say, if someone or something stands in your way (or in the way of your friends and family) because of gender issues, fight back. that’s applied feminism, right?

    But the rest of the time, where’s the benefit? Surely you don’t aspire to being angry like your radio feminist?

  • 2

    Comment by Jen

    23.10.2007 @ 18:53 pm

    i didn’t say there was nothing to get riled up about – i said there is nothing in *my* daily life that gets me riled up.

    there’s a world of difference between those two statements. there are plenty of battles left still – just because i don’t see them day to day doesn’t mean they don’t exist, or aren’t worth fighting.

    it’s like saying if you don’t care about either candidate you shouldn’t bother to vote. and the problem with that scenario is that if enough people decide *not* to vote, we will effectively no longer have the choice. you use it or lose it.

    and anger is a useful tool – walking around angry all the time dilutes its effectiveness, and is not a very fun way to live – but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t have a time and place.

  • 3

    Comment by Thomas Foolery

    23.10.2007 @ 19:07 pm

    I didn’t say “nothing to get riled about” either. I said not much in your life, by your own account.

    You want to go around raging about page 3 girls, I guess it’s your life -)

  • 4

    Comment by Jen

    23.10.2007 @ 19:20 pm

    “you confess that there’s not much to get riled up about”

    sorry if i misinterpreted.

    obviously i *don’t* run around getting riled up about page 3 girls, as i mentioned. but there are plenty of other feminist issues in the world to focus on. my life is quite privileged by comparison – my point is i need to start looking past my own nose.

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