2. Why do you think many younger women are hesitant to embrace feminism?
There has been a phenomenally effective smear campaign against feminism which has generated numerous myths, stereotypes, and misconceptions. Thus feminism became a bad word, the true “f-word.” This campaign has been well funded and far reaching…if what you primarily hear about feminism is that feminists are angry, feminists hate men, feminists don’t wear make up, etc. etc. and you don’t see yourself reflected then it is not a surprise that people would reject the term.
A bigger challenge, however, is that I think many young people believe that the goals of feminism have been achieved. That feminism is passé and no longer needed. Our culture has packaged empowerment for girls but it is misleading. We’re led to believe that consumption is empowerment. That plastic surgery is self determination. That “Girls Gone Wild” videos show women who ‘own’ their sexuality. Nothing could be further from the truth. Women have been literally sold the idea that their bodies are their destiny and their choices are their own but what so many fail to see is that our culture continues to promote a narrow and limited ideal. It is an ideal that is unobtainable because it is impossible. We tell women to be sexy but virginal; experienced but innocent; kiss girls but want boys; to be sexually empowered by fulfilling only the desires of our male partners (often at the cost of ourselves). And despite starvation, eating disorders, and body hatred—no matter how hard women ‘try’—they will never look as thin or as flawless as models appear on the pages of countless magazines—thanks to air brushing, computer alteration, and a number of other ‘tricks of the advertising trade.’ Our culture has co-opted the message of CHOICE and now throws the term around for anything and everything—we’re supposed to embrace our ‘choice’ because we can now chose between plastic or cardboard applicators for our tampons. Is this really the choice that the feminist movement has fought so hard for? But in couching everything in the language of choice, we’re guided to believe that everything is within our control and up to us. All the while, the major choices in our lives are just out of our reach.