In the Blog

Your feminism doesn’t go with your shoes

January 29th, 2008     by Stacey May Fowles     Comments

You might have heard that the Globe and Mail’s Karen Von Hahn has declared that “It’s official: Feminism is out of style.”

People, young feminists in particular, are irritated. I am one of them. This is the letter I sent to the Globe today:

As a proud 28-year-old feminist, I’m truly astounded and disappointed with Karen Von Hahn’s article It’s official: Feminism is out of style.

It’s official? I can promise you from both personal and professional experience that there are many women of my age and younger who are very proud to call themselves feminists. Whether or not your 26-year-old niece or 18-year-old daughter happen to know who Gloria Steinem is is irrelevant and doesn’t qualify as “research” on my generation’s belief systems on gender equality.

If you had done even some light looking, you’d find that feminism is very much active and alive amongst young Canadian women. Perhaps you don’t recognize feminism in its current form because it is an active ideology, constantly evolving to fit the ever-changing landscape of women’s lives, over the years growing to be more inclusive and accessible to women of colour, queer women, women living in poverty, women living with disability, all women and their allies.

Just because you don’t recognize it any more doesn’t mean it isn’t still “in style” - and to say so is dismissive and quite frankly, patronizing.

It’s not only completely irresponsible to make sweeping generalizations about my generation’s views on feminism, but depicting young women as giggling, vapid pop culture junkies who are disinterested in the issues, stating that we’re more likely to kneel at the altar of Cosmo than read Ms. Magazine, is pretty sexist. Because all of a sudden all young women are the same? Isn’t that a theory feminism aimed to dismantle? Accusing us of “giggling” (again, patronizing) and taking our reproductive rights for granted is also grossly misinformed. A quick look at the feminist blogosphere will reveal that young women are the most vocal about the issues, specifically the problematic films you mention that conveniently leave abortion out of the picture.

This kind of simplistic, black and white way of looking at feminism not only does a grand disservice to all the vital activist work that so many young women are participating in across the country for a variety of causes - feminist and otherwise - but it also dismisses their efforts simply because their actions don’t fit within your narrow definitions. Do you really think so little of us that you believe we don’t desperately care about our reproductive rights, fair and equal pay, equality in marriage and parenting, and a variety of election issues? Did you ever stop and think that the reason young female voters think it’s “lame” to vote on the basis of sisterhood is because they do care about feminist issues and want to choose a candidate who does as well? Or do you actually believe that Clinton being a woman makes her more of a feminist? Again - a narrow, limiting definition that does everyone a disservice.

I do hope you see the irony in an article that patronizes to and dismisses all of the vital work that young women do every day in the name of feminism and equality, while ending with an accusation of feminism’s “failure to create true sisterhood.”

Stacey May Fowles Publisher Shameless Magazine

Tags: media savvy

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