In a letter to her daughter, published in Cosmopolitan in 1978, feminist Betty Friedan said: “I hope there will come a day when you, daughter [of] mine … can truly afford to say ‘I’m not a feminist. I’m a person’ – and a day not too far away … when I can stop fighting for women and get on to other matters that interest me now.”
Many young women might say that day has arrived…
There is a new feminism afoot for many young women. One that does not depend upon the paraphernalia of a passe feminism. One that says let’s be truly adventurous and abolish separate bodies devoted to women because they only perpetuate an otherness about women and the issues that affect them. That women are mainstream hardly needs saying.
Not everything labelled as progressive is, or remains, a sign of progress. Indeed, so-called progressive movements founded on fine notions of freedom and choice have a nasty tendency to transmute into the dictatorial and doctrinaire. Feminism, or at least the version that feminists such as Summers cling to, is case in point. They talk about liberating women but continue to deride or ignore women who choose to stay at home and care for children. Some choices, it seems, are not as valid as others.
Feminism’s choice deficit has always been its greatest flaw. Perpetuating that flaw via government-sponsored offices is hardly progress. New Zealand’s Ministry of Women’s Affairs plays the role of Big Sister, overseeing something called gender implications statements, required for all papers submitted to the Social Development Committee of Helen Clark’s Labour cabinet. The gender analysis undertaken in these Orwellian statements is all about entrenching a feminist ideology, not objective policy making based upon impartial research of women’s needs and wants.