For reasons that root back to even before biblical times, in large parts of the world women have been held back, treated as second-rate citizens, abused and belittled. Shockingly and sadly this still happens today.
The measurement of the imbalance of gender equality varies from country to country but the battle still goes on in all areas, including domestic life and business. It’s common knowledge that wages for women are still lower than men and boardrooms are still very male heavy. But businesses are beginning to change, Lloyds Bank for example. But are Lloyds Bank ‘jumping on the trend’ and doing this as a PR stint or are they sincerely recognizing the problem? One could argue, but that’s another story.
What we do know is that the sheer admittance of the imbalance and well-publicized and transparent efforts to change this is a true reflection of the scale of gender inequality in the workplace. We’ve come along way since the suffragettes and powerful women over the centuries proved to a brainwashed world that women not only have a voice but also are an intrinsic part of our present and the future of the world. Tenacious feminist movements and women-friendly companies, generation by generation have taken up the mantle and are gradually steering this huge ship of contention in a positive direction.
But now what? Progress is being made. Slowly admittingly, but things are changing. Change is inevitable. But we need to adapt to change. Businesses are now publicly embracing gender equality and hopefully ergo wages will eventually align. But is it time to fall back and regroup? In any business adjustments are made according to progress. Do we need to consider a possible rebranding of feminism? Do we need to consider it at all?
There’s been lots of discussion about this. Even the word ‘feminism’ makes a lot of men and women roll their eyes. This is not to say they are misogynistic or anti-women, it’s just the very word ‘feminism’ conjures up some negative visuals for a percentage of people. I think, and have discussed this at length with feminists and women friends (is there a difference?); Is ‘feminism’ being seen or at risk of being seen, as aggressive or anti-men?
The subject of emasculation runs parallel to this and has been another subject of discussion. Is ‘feminism’ emasculating men? Personally, I find this very question both ridiculous and worrying. To feel that ones masculinity is in anyway at threat by women addressing gender equality puts forward the question of the individuals’ attitude towards or concept of their own masculinity. The question of labels can also be added in at this juncture. I said earlier I had discussed this with feminists and women friends, is there a difference? Do you have to say you’re a feminist to agree with gender equality?
Personally I hate labels. Why do we have have to put a name to it? There isn’t a male equivalent. There isn’t because it isn’t needed. I’m very aware that without the persistent and deeply admirable actions of feminists across the centuries we wouldn’t be where we are today. But that is where we are now. Today. Times are continually evolving. Are feminists PR’ing feminism as well as they could? Is feminism aligning itself with changes and progress or is it stubbornly clinging onto old tactics without reconsidering alternative ideas to strengthen itself? I wonder hypothetically if feminism didn’t exist would gender balance have sorted it self out naturally? Is it through the constant pushing of feminists or maybe just the world evolving naturally? Probably not. In which case it emphasizes even more the importance of ensuring that gender balance is aligned.
The key to changing attitudes is in education. We have to get to the root of the problem. We have to educate our children in the importance of gender equality. We don’t teach them as if it’s a new way of looking at things, we don’t make comparisons, we just merely teach balance and equality as a natural state. As with the different attitudes in homosexuality that are becoming clear between Generation X and Generation Y the same attitude with gender equality must be embedded. They are the future. Generation Y accept homosexuality as a part of life. We must ensure they also accept gender equality as natural too.
But the question remains…Do we need to rebrand Feminism?
Note: I submitted this article to Feminist Times and they rejected it.