How Young Women Are Embracing Feminism

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

A few weeks ago Barnard College contacted me asking if I would help spread the word about the school's latest feminist project -- Dare to Use the F-Word. The following post originally appeared on the Barnard College website and has been republished at The Writeous Babe Project per request of the school. 
***
"Dare to Use the F-Word is a new monthly podcast series created by and for young feminists. Street harassment, food activism, body image and slut-shaming are among the diverse issues discussed in the series, which is produced by Barnard College and the Barnard Center for Research on Women and aims to spotlight contemporary issues and activists. The podcast is available for download on iTunes, where you can also subscribe to the series.
In a recent episode, Barnard President Debora Spar, author of Wonder Women: Sex, Power, and the Quest for Perfection, talks with feminist media activist Jamia Wilson about how the drive for perfection affects young women today. Following the interview, Spar shared her thoughts on the direction of feminism for the next generation.
Barnard College President Debora Spar
From Spar: 
Since the release of Wonder Women several months ago, one of the questions that I’ve consistently been asked is “how is feminism different today? What do you hear on campus? Do young women want to be feminists, or not?”  It’s a complicated question, without an easy answer.  Because young women, of course, don’t speak with a single voice or share a common attitude.  Some are quick to embrace the term feminist.  Others despise it. And many – sadly, for the mothers and grandmothers who opened doors for them – no longer really have a sense of what the word implies.
My own view – shaped, I’m sure, by the particular environment of Barnard College, a staunch and early defender of feminism in all its many guises – is that most young women today are feminist in nature if not in name.  What I mean is that they implicitly assume that the goals that feminism fought for are theirs to claim.  They assume, for instance, that they will work, for pay, for at least long stretches of their lives.  They assume that all jobs – be they in finance or law or public office or industry – are open to them, and that they will receive roughly the same salaries as their male co-workers.  They assume that their bodies are theirs to enjoy, and treasure, and share as they wish.  They presume that birth control is widely available; that relationships are theirs to make, break, and determine; and that the world is every bit as open to them as it for their brothers.  In other words, they think, without even thinking about it, that they have equal rights with men.  Which was, after all, the central goal of feminism.
What they don’t do, necessarily, is credit the feminist movement for this state of affairs, or eagerly claim the label of feminist for themselves. This is perhaps unfortunate but also understandable.  Because how many young people generally race to thank their ancestors for bequeathing the world they did?  How many adolescents want to attach themselves to the same political causes as their parents or grandparents – especially when they feel as if those causes have already been fought for and won? Or as one older woman once expressed it to me:  how many hard-core feminists of the 1960s defined themselves as suffragettes?
To be sure, there are many young women today who proudly wear the label of feminism, and are expanding both advocacy and theory in fascinating ways: leading the global fight against sex trafficking, for example, speaking out against domestic violence, and pushing at the very definitions of sex and gender and identity.  But there are others, too, the reluctant feminists, who carry the mantle even if not the name.

Debora Spar is president of Barnard College and the author of numerous books, including, most recently, Wonder Women:  Sex, Power, and the Quest for Perfection (to be published in September 2013).  Prior to her arrival at Barnard in 2008, Spar was the Spangler Family Professor at Harvard Business School, where her research and teaching focused on political economy and the various ways in which firms and governments together shape the rules of the global economy.  Spar also serves as a Director of Goldman Sachs and trustee of the Nightingale-Bamford School. 

2 comments:

  1. Very cool! And one of my favorite writers graduated from Barnard. :)

    ReplyDelete
  2. http://www.coachoutletstoreinc.com/ Coach Outlet

    http://www.michaelkorsoutletmkinc.com/ Michael Kors Outlet

    http://www.coachfactoryoutletwebsite.com/ Coach Factory Outlet

    http://www.tomsusashoes.com/ Toms Shoes

    http://www.cheapjerseysinc.com/ Cheap Jerseys

    http://www.michaelkors-bedford.com/ Michael Kors

    http://www.coachoutlet-sale.com/ Coach Outlet

    http://www.coachfactoryoutletorg.com/ Coach Factory Outlet

    http://www.coachoutlet-buy.com/ Coach Outlet

    http://www.coachhandbagsonlineoutlet.com/ Coach Handbags

    http://www.giuseppezanottionline.com/ Giuseppe Zanotti

    http://www.coachfactoryoutlet-handbags.com/ Coach Factory Outlet

    http://www.coach-factory-outlet-online.com/ Coach Factory Outlet

    http://www.coachstoreonline.com/ Coach Outet Store Online

    http://www.coachfactoryoutlets2014.com/ Coach Factory Outlet

    http://www.michaelkorsoutletonlinemk.com/ Michael Kors Outlet

    http://www.celineoutlet-online.com/ Celine Outlet

    http://www.michaelkors.name/ Michael Kors

    http://www.michael-kors-outlet-store.com/ Michael Kors Store

    http://www.tomsshoescompany.com/ Tomss Hoes

    http://www.pradaoutlet-store.com/ Prada Outlet

    http://www.fitflopfootwear.com/ Fitflop Footwear

    http://www.celinebags-outlet.com/ Celine Bags

    http://www.fitflopsflipflops.com/ Fitflops Flipflops

    http://www.fitflopusaonline.com/ Fitflops USA

    http://www.giuseppezanottidesigner.com/ Giuseppe Zanotti Designer

    http://www.fitflopflip-flop.com/ Fitflops Outlet

    http://www.giuseppezanottisneakersmen.com/ Giuseppe Zanotti

    http://www.fitflopsandalssale.com/ Fitflops Sandals

    ReplyDelete