Thursday, November 20, 2003

Summers of our discontent

I'd like to say that Anne Summers stormed into town - for her appearance at the Big Book Club was immediately after the belated storm. But Anne came weary - the bearer of bad news and heavily burdened by it. Her book, "The End of Equality", has been written sadly and not willingly. Summers was one of the forces of feminism in the 70s when many of the bridges to equality were crossed. Now, she discovers, the progress of that time has been eroded, equality in the workplace and in society has slipped back - and we didn't even notice. We were too busy. And we had been immersed in the "me" era - in which, as she put it, we "privatised" women's issues and thought they applied just to me or me or me. And that we somehow were responsible. No one talked about it. Everybody was too busy.
And come the year 2003, women are earning considerably less than men, child care is in crisis and keeping women out of the workforce, women have turned into part-time workers or, if they want to succeed in careers, they have abandoned the idea of having children, so the birthrate is falling and the population cannot reproduce itself and must rely in immigration. Few women are in top executive positions and domestic violence has been on the increase. A litany of failure.
And we have a Government, or at least a Prime Minister, who thinks the answer lies in keeping women at home having babies - in, what Summers calls, "a white picket fence prison".
Progress? Not.

So there needs to be a third wave of feminism to repair the damage. At a time when feminism is outre. Young women who have never so much as looked over their shoulders to see where their freedom of choice came from, must activate and help to pressure for solutions. But they are too busy, too. Everyone is too busy. The feminist structures are all gone. Feminism is a dirty word. Or is it? The girly magazines have jumped at the publication of Anne's book - and the mainstream media has paid attention. Maybe, just maybe, if the girls start to cyber-agitate....

No comments: