Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Feminism's Unchartered Territory

A friend forwarded an opinion piece to me this morning from MSN online, on (no surprise here) the 2008 presidential primary.  The piece, written by Susan Shapiro Barash, was a commentary on Hillary's bid for the Big Job, and the corresponding angst it has created along gender lines in the US.  Barash, aligning with many women, would clearly like to see a female head-of-state for our States, and encouraged women to stand in solidarity with the first female candidate who actually stands a chance.  

The problem?  Barash cited her confusion and concern over the divide among women regarding their feelings for Hillary.  She seems to afford for women who legitimately disagree with Clinton's policies, but she does not understand the women who publicly sting Clinton, deeming their comments as disrespectful of the candidate, and to the feminist movement at-large.  And while I recognize many of Barash's points to be true, I think her concerns will persist throughout this process, and beyond.

I wrote to my friend that it would be easy for readers to assume that because I write about my affection for the domestic life, that I am a traditionalist (aka anti-feminist).  This is simply not true.  Though I was not raised during the feminist movement, I can clearly see how feminists cringe at the criticisms presented from my generation, particularly because we have directly benefited from their painstaking efforts to open doors for us.  Furthermore, I would love to see a woman in the Oval office, and think that the female perspective is a necessary compliment to the male perspective that already dominates public policy.

That being said, I think feminism finds itself in unchartered territory with globalization in full force.  Solutions that were indeed revolutionary during the late 60's and throughout the 70's--the ones that led women like a flood into the marketplace--seem far more complicated now in today's global economy.  Which leads me to ask: what is the objective of feminism, anyway?  Is it a movement to promote women's advancement in the market with the goal of achieving equal status with men, or is it to provide opportunities for women to make their own choices, even if those choices are for a lifestyle that directly opposes feminist ideals?  In truth, I'm not sure there is a clear answer to this, but I do think that ambivalence toward Hillary is a fruit it.  

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