Change Your World-NOT your Body

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

I blame the media for ignoring feminism in favour of makeup-(An Interesting Article)

Feminism seems so tiny today, so niche, of such little interest to the outside world. And yet it is needed...

A little from the article...

November will see the premiere of Pan Am on BBC2. It is a soft-focus drama series, bought from America, about the adventures of a group of Pan Am stewardesses in the 1960s. It is all big hair and pouting, with a preposterous photogenic-stewardess-as-CIA-operative subplot, to distract the viewer from the fact that Pan Am is all about big hair and pouting, a reductive and submissive fantasy, with working women as eye candy and, explicitly in the first episode, as sex aid. Even so, they are represented as empowered, because they are beautiful, and get on and off aeroplanes.

I mention this as last week, at the Fawcett Society's annual AGM, I pondered why the feminist movement seems so comprehensively to have stalled. Feminism seems so tiny today, so niche, of such little interest to the outside world and even to women. And yet it is needed; the facts are bewildering or depressing, depending on one's mental state. In the UK, the pay gap of 15.5% will not shift. When the Chartered Management Institute (CMI) polled 34,158 male and female executives in the private sector last year, they learned the average pay gap between men and women doing the same job is £10,031, and the average woman will, as such, be cheated out of £330,000 in her lifetime, which is a lot for a feminist, and also for a consumer.

The glass ceiling is still bulletproof; men outnumber women in parliament by four to one, and there are more millionaires than women in the cabinet (and it shows). Women who do make it into politics are mocked and debased; alongside Cameron's Cuties and Blair's Babes, we now have Millie's Fillies, a fine headline for the fact that there are now 13 women in the shadow cabinet, to Ed Miliband's credit. The cuts, as this newspaper has detailed, will affect women, who are the nation's carers, and who tend to work in the public sector, far more than men. Because childcare responsibilities still fall on women, women with children take low-paid, opportunity-free part-time work, and suffer economically and, presumably, spiritually.

Instead, the media acts as a marketing tentacle for the beauty and fashion industries – no friend to women, merely selling the lie that purchase is a feminist act, because, in the words of the L'Oreal slogan, "We're worth it". Yes we are, and that is why I do not dye my hair. In fact, shopping is the only feminist act still possible in the media world because they think consumerism is feminism; buy, and feel good about yourself, even as you get into debt for your trouble, and forget that actually you looked OK in your old clothes, with your old hair, and with your old vagina. It also, due to its emphasis on shopping, mistakes what a feminist is. Two current TV heroes, Mary Portas and Kirsty Allsop, could be interpreted as feminists, because they have both their own TV shows. In fact, they are not feminists, but saleswomen, as committed to female dissatisfaction – buy a house, buy a dress, buy anything – as anyone in sales.

Celebrity is no friend to feminism either, even if Angelina Jolie once made a statement that could be reasonably divined as feminist. (I have no idea if she did make such a statement. But it is possible.) Because she had to starve, sweat and be surgically enhanced to be in a position to make it and be heard. Sex and the City is an OK conduit for a discussion of feminism, because it contains shoes, without the Sex and the City peg, you will get nowhere. I suppose celebrity's contribution to feminism is: if you are hot enough you will be heard, but hurry up, because you won't be hot for long.

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