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Monday, 27 May 2013

Are We Having a Feminist Spring?

We have had the 'Arab Spring', some in the education world have called for an 'Education Spring' but it seems to me that there is something of a Feminist Spring going on, that will hopefully last well into future seasons. 50 years after the birth of feminism, momentum is mobilising in the media to maintain a movement which many women may not overtly engage in. This blog rounds up some of the discussion that has been going on over the last few weeks. 
First on the list is Janice Turner's article entitled 'Feminism 2.0 is hot, rude and self confident', clearly posits feminism as a topic de jour; demonstrating that feminism thrives and is still crucial to the fight for female equality. Cleverly couching it in terms of a computer software update is fitting, given that much of the current feminist debate occupies cyberspace, galvanising us girls across the globe in a new wave of contemporary co-operation to combat crime against womankind.
While the subject of feminism is a hot topic, it is worth recognising that it is a diverse domain. Feminism is our safety net for when women's rights to equality and meritocracy collapse. This is the starting point but there are many different takes on how it should progress. As Sarah Vine pointed out in a recent Times Weekend supplement, there is a wide spectrum of feminism and this does need to be noted. I don't find all her labels comforting in terms of furthering the cause of equality for women. It is disappointing that, as a woman of reasonably high profile, she confessed to being a Champagne (*or Chablis) feminist - only debating feminist issues after a glass of fizz is missing the point: we shouldn't have to be pissed up to be pissed off by the patriarchy. Her other half has proven how endemic sexist comments are, deriding Nick Clegg for having 'to show a bit of leg' to dissuade dissenters amongst the LibDems. One would hope the Education Secretary had better judgement than to use sexist metaphors to score political points...
Continuing with The Times (I will endeavour to widen the journalistic net in the next paragraph!) Caitlin Moran (comic feminist according to Vine) impressively inverted the iniquitous 'Hollywood's Most Hated' into 'Hollywood's Most Rated'. Deftly dissing the discrimination against the women who, in shunning the limelight, are forced to succumb to the sharp tongues of celebrity commentators. Her article in last Saturday's Times Magazine 'My House of Mouse Boycott', is equally worth reading on Disney's disappointing decision to sexualise their latest reincarnation of their hitherto helpful role model princess, Brave.
Next up in The Observer, Eva Wiseman proffered an interesting perspective on how women are still pilloried for both the presence and absence of make up. Do we really still live in an age were female appearance is more noteworthy than their charitable endeavours?

Finally, another affirmation that feminism is once more on an upwards trajectory is the news that the discontinued publication Spare Rib is making a come back, spearheaded by Charlotte Raven. When asked if the magazine can get feminism back on course she replied,  "Yeah! Absolutely! Without a doubt," ...It will take a while, but it feels like the right moment suddenly. I don't know why. But it feels like there's a wind behind us."
Let's hope that wind keeps blowing.