Is feminism is dead and dated? It is according to the Kathleen Parker at the Washington Post. At the turn of the 50th anniversary of Betty Friedan’s ‘The Feminine Mystique,’ critics have continued their analysis of feminism and its relevance to the modern woman. In its inception, the feminist movement began primarily in middle class white America. The movement’s biggest criticism has been that “Friedan didn’t tackle any of the legal obstacles to women’s equality. Nor did she pay attention to women of color or members of the working class.”
In this post-modern world where women work, head-up corporations, attend college in record numbers, what does feminism look like? For the Black woman, it incorporates class oppression, racism, and, of course, sexism. The basis of Black feminism is the notion that any form of feminism that seeks to overcome sexism and class oppression, while ignoring race is discriminatory to many people, not just women.
It’s hard to imagine a world where women are not allowed to vote, struggle to enroll in college due to discriminatory practices, or are denied basic equalities that men enjoy. Because of that, feminism seems to be an outdated idea that is useless at best, tension-inducing at worst. Kathleen Parker of the Washington Post writes, “Revolutions are like children — eager and hopeful in the beginning; then, like teenagers, suddenly riotous and unruly. They have their own ideas about things and pick up friends who are bad influences. Sometimes they need to be spanked. Fine, okay, a timeout.”
However, all movements undergo a transformation as they mature and feminism is no exception. At this point, the term ‘feminism’ is thrown around as a buzz word more than anything. That’s partially because the intent of Friedman’s ‘Mystique’ has never been fully understood. As well, uniting women across various socio-economic and racial barriers in the struggle for equal rights has never been the expressed goal. It seems that the middle-to-upper middle class, white woman’s movement was never meant to include the poor, the racially diverse or the uneducated. This could be a false notion, but it’s a pervasive one nonetheless. Thus, the struggle for respect between stay-at-home-moms versus working women, and women who desire marriage and family above bursting the glass ceiling remains.
We have women entertainers, like Beyonce, being either heralded as the new face of feminism or being torn apart for being too sexy; apparently a contradiction to true feminism. Who will be the new face of feminism is yet to be seen, but one thing remain true. As is stands, 50 years into the movement we still have the same questions about womanhood, motherhood, the working woman and feminism. Feminism, like the civil rights or gay rights movement, needs an overhaul, a foundation and a goal that more than just women can aspire to and advance.