Is Feminism Relevant?

Today’s CBS Report (9/4/14) on the “Female Factor” reported 1 out of 4 say they are feminists. Garment company Under Armour’s  recent ad campaign is “I will what I want” with an emphasis on ‘female empowerment’ not Feminism.This month’s issue of Advertising Age is titled “Soft Feminism.” Ms. Zmuda (female guest) on CBS Report said that “feminism is the other “f word.” This is one example of discourse that positions feminism as irrelevant.
In a recent (July 30, 2014) article in The Guardian by Jessica Valenti titled “Feminism Makes Us Victims” she reports on the burgeoning online anti-feminist movement, particularly Women Against Feminism and anti-feminist blogs. Young millennial women between the ages of 18 and 29 are posting selfies with statements as to why they believe feminism is not important and relevant. (see http://womenagainstfeminism.tumblr.com).
How can and do we teach about the relevancy of feminism? Is it different than ’empowerment?’ Why is feminism portrayed in the media in negative ways? Why are young women not identifying with feminism? What are your thoughts and images on this issue?

5 Responses to Is Feminism Relevant?

  1. Linda says:

    I just got home from my 9th grade daughter’s high school open house. I’m still processing something that was said by her Art I teacher. I quote: “Observational drawing is especially important for girls. It helps them when they start dating, like, when they realize it is not about the cologne and stuff.” Say what??? There is nothing empowering in that gendered/sexist statement. And I am ashamed that I held my tongue–we have to speak up in such moments, to make it known that statements such as these that reduce the reason for making art down to a tactic to assist girls in dating as totally unacceptable; or at the least, something to challenge, resist, contest. Today’s feminists are concerned with equity for ALL–not just for girls. That art teacher’s statement was just as harmful in boys’ contexts. So much backlash assumes feminists aim to make women’s status superior to that of men in society. That is so untrue. We aim to encourage, create and construct equity, to eradicate gender and sex discrimination–not to further polarize the issues.

    • Karen says:

      Outrageous that such statements are made by art teachers in 2014. In a field dominated by women why are there so few feminists in art education? Collins (1995) argues that art educators need to raise what she defines as feminists consciousness through an awareness of: (1) differences in treatment that are based on sex and gender, (2) institutional structures that oppress or mystify women, (3) attitudes that assume male experience is the human norm, female experience, the exception, and that the female, like nature, is “the other”, and (4) images, ideas, and narratives that reinforce negative stereotypes of women, which in turn are used to justify further differences in treatment (p. 71). Is there a feminist consciousness among art educators in 2014, or is awareness of principles and practices of feminism misconceived so the awareness that Collins advocates is not part of most art educators’ awareness in a way that impacts their teaching practice?

  2. Linda says:

    Difference in treatment, indeed–I fear it is often subtle and undetected (I saw no others react the way I did to the comment by my daughter’s art teacher) or, no one was brave enough (including me) to be fearless and confront the one making the comment. It assumes women must choose their mate (on physical traits, as indicative of the art teacher’s comment??) according to some norm in which art can assist. I know there is a bizarre, distorted gender sense in all this, although I’m finding it hard to decode. Awareness of a distorted feminism is coming to the surface in such moments. I wonder over and over again how perceived differences in how girls and boys are treated are understood. I told this story to some friends. Certainly those with a lens towards feminism felt the wrongness in the art teacher’s comment; others just felt I was overreacting in even “making it an issue.” It is the feminist consciousness that drives the need–the necessity–for awareness in such moments.

  3. Sheri says:

    I’d like to offer this link to an article in the Kansas City Star (9.26.14) titled “Feminism’s Never Ending Struggles”–a back and forth imaginary dialogue between two women-one of whom is not a feminist.
    http://www.kansascity.com/opinion/opn-columns-blogs/midwest-voices/article2261855.html
    I think it captures a prevailing current belief that feminism is not only irrelevant, it is damaging.

  4. Karen says:

    I read it and sharing it with undergrads. The imaginary conversation is fairly close to the reality of their in class conversation after watching Difference, a FemTechNet video dialogue. They also commented on the audio timeline at https://soundcloud.com/karen-keifer-boyd/differenceftn

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