Monday, 14 April 2008

Me Me Me Feminism Versus Collectivity

The original print version of this caught my attention as I recently spent some time finally filing a huge pile of assorted articles into useful categories. It's from the Guardian Review dated (ahem!) 14th June, 2007:

Take Risks: An Interview with Michèle Roberts by Lucasta Miller

Roberts makes an interesting comment about feminism today: "My sort of feminism was defeated in the Thatcher years, as socialism was. I feel that the feminism that triumphed is the sort I don't like: what I call shoulderpads feminism. It's all about being an individual in a capitalist society. Put on your suit, go to the City, make a lot of money: it's all me, me, me. My sort of feminism is about collectivity."

Perhaps struggling for equality in a capitalist society has led to feminism being expressed in terms of 'things' because sadly (in our society) power, status and success are recognised in the things acquired by money. So a woman (or a man) is seen as successful by what she has: house, car, gadgets, holidays. If she has earned these things for herself, she may also be seen (and think of herself) as a successful feminist, fighting the good cause, proving we can do it for ourselves.

But the problem goes beyond feminism, because feminism today has been influenced not just by capitalism but increasingly by individualism, as has society in general. Huge demographic changes and increased geographic mobility have loosened community bonds, even family bonds in some cases, or at least put them under immense pressure. As women have strived for equality in the professional sphere while also maintaining a hugely important role in the domestic sphere, they have perhaps from necessity had to neglect the social sphere. Many women now go out to work all day, come home to care for loved ones (a partner and/or children and possibly even an elderly relative too), to do all the myriad of endless chores involved in raising a family ... is there any wonder they may have little time for building positive relationships with other, equally stretched women? Is there any wonder that feminism has become a case of, "I can do this on my own!"

Yet surely relationships between women are essential to feminism? Equally important is the fact that a network of female friends provides essential support for women as individuals ... who else will really understand (because they have personally experienced) the difficulties and challenges of being a woman today, or truly recognise the triumphs?

I fear Michèle Roberts may be right about the 'triumph' of "me me me" feminism, but am optimistic to note that collectivity still exists: the support and encouragement shared by the women in the blogging community is inspirational!


No comments: