Womankind Worldwide Book Group discussion

Is there still a need for a feminist movement?

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message 1: by Kehinde (new)

Kehinde Komolafe | 11 comments I recently had a conversation with a couple of male friends about feminism, as I have been thinking about if there is still a need for a feminist movement. To find out how this question came about check out the link below. I think there is and my male friends are are spilt. I would be interested to know what others think.


message 2: by Linda (new)

Linda (bdoingaolcom) | 9 comments Thanks for sharing your blog on the Gloria Steinem podcast, Kehinde. To your question, I echo Steinem resoundingly: the feminist movement is definitely not over. The current attempt at a governmental level to restrict the reproductive freedom and control the bodies of women indicates women's freedom is perceived as a threat--as is their right to vote and their choice to vote (most often) as liberals or Democrats or what have you. Our society is founded on the "unpaid" labor of most mothers, while fathers get the "man of the house" respect. And I agree with you that "awareness" is the missing element in many younger women's sense of freedom to do whatever they want. It's a nice change from the restrictions of pre-1st and 2nd wave feminist movements, when women were aware of prohibitions on them--because they were so obvious. But the freedom of women these days has not been matched with the awareness that it comes at a cost. Free to be a mom and a businesswomen can mean free to work more than any man would without adequate pay. Free to get paid for working women often means free to get paid 3/4 what a man gets for the same work. And that doesn't even begin to address the sexual freedoms that are currently being debated for women by (mostly) men in our government. Gloria Steinem was pivotal in the feminist movement, and has much to say about how it's still necessary: maybe not in the same form, but continuing the project of feminism and ensuring that its gains, vital to women's current rights and freedoms, are not lost.

Thanks again for your question, and provocative share!

message 3: by Natasha (last edited Jul 28, 2013 06:48AM) (new)

Natasha Holme (natashaholme) | 38 comments This question has answered itself loud and clear over the last 24 hours with the vile abuse and rape threats thrown by countless men at Caroline Criado-Perez on Twitter (@CCriadoPerez) for daring to run successfully the campaign that obliged the Bank of England to backtrack on scrapping all influential women from our bank notes.

If you'd like to sign the petition to Twitter to 'Add A Report Abuse Button To Tweets' please add your voice here:

message 4: by Kehinde (new)

Kehinde Komolafe | 11 comments Natasha, thanks for your comment. Yes, the reaction to Caroline Criado-Perez's campaign is another example of why there is very much a need for feminist movement. Any form of abuse of women be it in real life or cyberspace should not be tolerated.

message 5: by Sara (new)

Sara | 10 comments I live in a state where it's now legal for a doctor to LIE to me because he can decide to value the life of the fetus in my womb over my own health, and where I can be restricted from making choices about whether to keep a fetus growing in me regardless of whether I was raped or my life is in danger, because I'm viewed as a baby-incubator and nothing more here once I get pregnant. I live in a state where a good chunk of the population thinks that God has told them that I need to sit down and shut up and be completely subservient to the other half of the population because I lack particular physical plumbing.

There's definitely still a need for feminism.

message 6: by Lisa (new)

Lisa Lilly | 20 comments One reason I believe the feminist movement is still needed is that the male model for so many things is still the default, and it's sometimes hard to fight because it's almost invisible. When I worked at a large law firm, the leaders decided to start placing even more weight on hours billed per year when considering who made partner, and less weight on factors like quality of work and mentoring others. I pointed out that this would make it harder for women to achieve partnership because women generally spend much more time on childcare than do men, and so find it harder to work 60+ hours per week. The firm leaders said no, the policy was perfectly gender-neutral because the hours requirements applied equally to men and women. For lawyers, that was a particularly disingenuous answer, because they all studied U.S. Constitutional law and know that a policy that's neutral on its face can discriminate in its effect where groups are situated differently. But -- big surprise -- the decision-makers were men.

message 7: by Kehinde (new)

Kehinde Komolafe | 11 comments Sara and Lisa thanks for your comments. Not sure if you've read the article I posted. In it I write that women are also a big part of the problem. So many educated (western) women don't really care about female equality or they are deluded in thinking we have it. Women have to continue to demand equality.

message 8: by Sara (new)

Sara | 10 comments Kehinde, I'm afraid it's worse than that. Far too many women are deluded into believing they're doing the "right thing" (usually on religious grounds) by restricting themselves and their fellow women.

message 9: by Jesse (last edited Aug 06, 2013 02:07PM) (new)

Jesse L Feminism is needed now more than ever. People all too often bring up the less disturbing gender issues we have in society. They are, of course, valid but let's be real: we live in an extremely violent and abusive society where women are largely on the receiving end.

I'm a man, I grew up going to highschool and college in new york listening to the majority of other guys making jokes about how they raped some girl, how they get girls drunk to "take advantage" (ie: rape) them, etc. Sexual violence is extremely high. Tens of thousands of women are slaves in the united states, forced to live in brothels for years being raped many times every day. Women are regularly abused and killed because of their gender. Women are harassed on the street on a daily basis. Women get paid less, get treated worse, have less rights, are more abused, etc. etc. the list goes on.

Things have changed, yeah, but on a grand scale the change has been VERY slight and only in certain areas for certain women. There's a huge amount of work to be done.

I'm a man, and I know this. All your friends have to do is talk to women to know how much bullshit they have to put up with, it's that simple. If they want to personalize it, it's a simple fact that feminism liberates men as well as women. Men are trained from birth to be violent and sociopathic leaving us emotionally crippled and miserable for most of our lives. Feminism isn't just for women, even though that is primarily the case. I don't want to be in a world where I'm told to devalue women I care about, where I'm encouraged to harass and attack women, where I make more money and get more respect than my friends just because of my gender. It's fucking bullshit and it's infuriating. I don't want more rights than other people cuz I'm a man, or because I'm white or for any other reason and I do.

Men have a responsibility to contribute to feminism and to making the world a better place because we are the ones who, for the most part, are ruining it. It doesn't mean we are bad people, it means we have privilege and we have a social responsibility to question and eradicate that privilege as best we can. When only 1 or 2 out of a hundred sexual assaults results in the attacker going to jail we have a serious problem: if you know a guy who harasses women, who attacks women, who insults women or complains about them you tell them they are wrong. You stand up for women and you have some self respect as a human being to demand the people around you respect ALL people, regardless of their gender.

Ok clearly I'm ranting, but show this video to your guy friends, maybe it will help them understand men's role and the NEED for feminism today:


message 10: by Natasha (new)

Natasha Holme (natashaholme) | 38 comments Excellent video, Jesse. Thanks so much for sharing this. "My liberation as a man is tied to your liberation as a woman." That's the bit I wish I could shout from the rooftops--that sexism deeply hurts men too.

I'm left with one question from the video. A young boy claims that it would "destroy" him if he were described as being like a girl. This is taken to mean that the boy has been taught that girls are inferior.

However, the eating disorder that I suffered from twenty years ago started in part because I was afraid of being thought of as masculine. I thought I was too big, which meant male, which meant ugly, so I started starving myself.

I think that a large part of the problem of sexism is that we are taught that women and men are vastly different from each other, whereas we really aren't. We are so similar. And we're not even distinctly women and men. One in a hundred and fifty people are born intersex, many people are transgender and 'gender queer.'

message 11: by Diane (new)

Diane Lefer | 32 comments Thank you, Jesse! We know the world won't change as long as it's only women talking to women and men aren't part of the conversation with us--and what's even more important, with each other. Thank you, again, for stepping up.

message 12: by Kehinde (new)

Kehinde Komolafe | 11 comments Jesse,

Thanks for adding the male perspective. The fight against violence and abuse of women has to be a collaborative effort between men and women.

Here is another good TED talk on the male's perspective - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KTvSfe...

message 13: by Natasha (new)

Natasha Holme (natashaholme) | 38 comments Jesse, Kehinde, both those videos are amazing. I'm going to Tweet, Facebook, and Google+ them.

message 14: by Jesse (last edited Aug 11, 2013 07:58AM) (new)

Jesse L Awesome video Kehinde, thanks!

and Natasha: i totally agree! the division between men and women and viewing gender as an opposing system (instead of a multi-layered, non-hierarchical one) is one of the foundations of patriarchy for sure!

message 15: by Jesse (new)

Jesse L ugh the comments on that Jackson Katz video are uggggggghhhhhhh so horrible. So many ignorant guys. I love how some ignorant jerk can watch that entire video about all these serious topics and their argument in response is "well women still get paid for at dinner so really they hold all the power" WHAT? so much wrong and stupid with that statement...some people, i swear.

message 16: by Heather (new)

Heather Fineisen YES. Glad to see the discussion.

message 17: by Jenny (new)

Jenny Lloyd (jennyoldhouse) Kehinde wrote: "I recently had a conversation with a couple of male friends about feminism, as I have been thinking about if there is still a need for a feminist movement. To find out how this question came about ..."
I honestly believe there is a greater need than ever. Having grown up in the era when Germaine Greer and Nancy Friday were promising so much, I'm quite horrified by the culture of misogyny that is prevalent now across the whole media spectrum. Check out this great related blog post by a friend of mine and see what we more mature ladies have to say on the subject!
What kind of role model are you? http://ow.ly/nQVVc
Leap the Wild Water

message 18: by Natasha (new)

Natasha Holme (natashaholme) | 38 comments I have just read the most amazing article on 'internalised misogyny' written by a bisexual woman about her own realisation that she has hated women. Do read and share:


message 19: by Womankind (new)

Womankind Worldwide (womankindworldwide) | 26 comments Mod
We didn't want to weigh in too soon on this, but we definitely believe a feminist movement is still needed! Many of our partner organisations in Africa, Asia and Latin America define themselves as feminist and their work is vital and life-saving. Here are some statistics that we think also make a strong argument for a women's rights movement: http://www.womankind.org.uk/about/why...

message 20: by Natasha (new)

Natasha Holme (natashaholme) | 38 comments Just started a book I've been looking forward to reading for years: Man Made Language by Dale Spender, in which she demonstrates how language was formulated by men and how its structure maintains the patriarchy.

It kept me awake reading till 5:45am this morning. I'd had no idea that in 1980 at least (when the book was first published) women owned *less than* 1% of the world's wealth.

message 21: by Jesse (new)

Jesse L http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/09...

2011 world bank report: Women represent 40% of the world’s labor force but hold just 1% of the world’s wealth.

nearly nothing has changed in terms of wealth

message 22: by Natasha (new)

Natasha Holme (natashaholme) | 38 comments Jesse wrote: "Women represent 40% of the world’s labor force but hold just 1% of the world’s wealth."

WOW. And most women aren't feminists. What is going on??

message 23: by Kehinde (new)

Kehinde Komolafe | 11 comments Good question Jesse! I wish I could answer it but I can't. You could ask the same question about the number of women politicians. There is still a lot of work to be done.

Natasha, thanks for sharing.

message 24: by Lisa (new)

Lisa Lilly | 20 comments Jesse wrote: "http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/09...

2011 world bank report: Women represent 40% of the world’s labor force but hold just 1% of the world’s wealt..."

It is so discouraging -- both the statistic and the number of women who don't consider themselves feminists. Another statistic for the U.S., where many people say we don't need feminism because everyone's equal now -- 50.8% of the population are women. We have the largest number of women U.S. Senators in history -- 20 out of 100. 1/5 is way better than 1%, but that 1/5 is considered amazing, wonderful and groundbreaking in the 21st century speaks volumes.

message 25: by Natasha (last edited Aug 29, 2013 08:06AM) (new)

Natasha Holme (natashaholme) | 38 comments Julie wrote: "Thanks for posting about this book - it sounds really interesting - I will add it to my 'to read' shelf now! :) "

It's not a light read, Julie. It contains some great information, but is written like an academic thesis. Very well written, but best consumed in small chunks. ...

message 26: by Natasha (new)

Natasha Holme (natashaholme) | 38 comments Man Made Language by Dale Spender: My review.

message 27: by Natasha (new)

Natasha Holme (natashaholme) | 38 comments Julie wrote: "Thanks for the link! I really loved your review - very well said! :)"

There are some gems in that book, Julie. Well worth slogging through ;-)

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