(The article originally appeared in the Seattle Chapter N.O.W.’s Nowsletter in 2007)
By Seana Sperling
The ongoing backlash against Feminism has gained momentum and the Moral Majority Neo-cons have been ever vigilant to put the ladies in their place. This backlash pits woman against woman, with the likes of Coulters and Bushs rallying the small-minded bullies to attack any woman who stands up or acts up.
While I’m no fan of the Brittanys or Paris’ of today’s headlines, I can empathize with their frustration of the media’s intense and negative scrutiny of their every breath. I’m not interested in the naughtiness of these young starlets and I believe their civil rights are being violated to provide a gossipy public with scapegoats to rip apart in their morning blogs. I also see this as a way to control women. The double standard is more apparent today than it has been in years as we don’t see the press vilifying the young male stars who are certainly indulging in the same activities. The message: Do as men say, not as they do.
Growing up I always had a strong sense that the genders were equal. As I grew I realized that women’s self esteem had actually grown stronger despite years of puritanical male tyranny. We had united and helped each other see our attributes. Nowadays I see psychological attacks on women by the media that hits them right in their vulnerable underbelly—their self-esteem.
Now we have always been inundated with ads telling us to be skinny and pretty and ladylike with flowing dresses, a can of makeup on our face and ample use of FDS, but now we are being told not to be too political or assertive. Stand behind your husband not your girlfriend.
I am a Feminist. When I state this, some of my gay friends go after me and call me a Lesbian. I thank them for the compliment because certainly I support women that support other women. Why is it that even my gay friends will react to my declaration of being a Feminist? The media has allowed them to do this.
After years of shows like Desperate Housewives, depicting women as trashy whores or angelic homemakers, the ridicule towards women comes easily, as easily as a blonde joke, which is just another sneaky way to ridicule women. For example, if you preface a joke with, “Eight blondes walk into a bar…” Do you conjure the image of eight blonde men?
In an era of Political Correctness I saw nasty little jabs at women filter in through other women. Some women, even friends of mine, would proudly state that they weren’t feminist. I generally would ask if they believed in equal rights for women or if they voted. They just didn’t want to discuss it. Their boyfriends, husbands or fathers had convinced them long ago that the fight for women’s rights was over and women had won even though the shackles still sparkled on their waif thin wrists.
Historically there are cycles in every political movement and Feminists are again being challenged. McCann’s inappropriate chuckle, when one of his female supporters trashed Senator Clinton unveiled the Rightwing attitudes towards powerful women. If women continue to follow these trends, without question we are heading for a time of horrible political oppression.