At first glance, this book review might seem a bit out of place on an animal rights blog (even one written by a vegan feminist), but grumble not!: Animal advocacy does make a cameo near the end.
“I’ll be a post-feminist in the post-patriarchy.”
The book cover for Reclaiming the F Word: The New Feminist Movement depicts a “We Can Do It!”-style tough woman, complete with kerchiefed head, rolled sleeves and flexed bicep. The cover’s background is shaded a subtle gray, and most of the text is white – save for the “F” in “F Word” (which is neon green) and “The New Feminist Movement” (vibrant purple).
Feminism 2010, 101 (or, “I’ll be a post-feminist in the post-patriarchy.”)
Spurred by the disconnect between the mainstream media’s treatment of feminism (depending on the source, feminism is: dead; outdated; a fad that’s passed; bad for your health; an utter failure; and/or proven so successful that it’s outlived its usefulness) and the “vibrant feminist movement” that they bear daily witness to, UK-based feminists Catherine Redfern and Kristin Aune decided to investigate and document the “new feminist movement.” Redfern – founder of The F-Word, a website dedicated to issues of contemporary UK feminism – and Aune – a sociology professor who teaches courses on feminism, gender and religion – surveyed 1,265 UK feminists in order to assess their thoughts on sexism and feminism and compare these to the demands made by their “second-wave” foremothers.* The results appear in the soon-to-be-published Reclaiming the F Word: The New Feminist Movement (July 6, 2010), along with a cogent introduction to the “third-wave” feminist movement. (The survey results are also available at http://www.reclaimingthefword.net.)
Redfern and Aune open the discussion by identifying the seven demands made by feminists meeting at Oxford’s Ruskin College annually throughout the 1970s:
1. Equal pay now
2. Equal education and job opportunities
3. Free contraception and abortion on demand
4. Free 24-hour nurseries
5. Financial and legal independence
6. An end to all discrimination against lesbians; assertion of a woman’s right to define her own sexuality
7. Freedom from intimidation by threat or use of violence or sexual coercion, regardless of marital status; and an end to all laws, assumptions and institutions which perpetuate male dominance and men’s aggression towards women.
While feminists have made significant progress on many of these issues, clearly there’s still much work to be done. For example, while legislation regarding rape and sexual assault has improved in both the UK and the US, women (particularly women of color, women with disabilities, trans women, children, etc.) are still physically and sexually victimized in great numbers – both by male perpetrators, and again by a culture fraught with rape apologism and a largely uncompassionate judicial system. Thus, it should come as no great surprise that contemporary feminists voice similar concerns some forty years later.
Based on the responses they received, as well as their own knowledge of current feminist activism and writing, Redfern and Aune group the interests of the “new feminist movement” into seven themes, in homage to the Ruskin College feminists’ seven stated demands:
(More below the fold…)