Happy Birthday, Simone de Beauvoir!

Of course, I’m talking about Simone de Beauvoir because of google. And I’m not the only one. Several of the main newspapers have published articles online about her/google today, including the Guardian, which I had a quick read of in my lunch break. While doing so, it’s ‘more on this story’ links caught my eye – especially Feminism is on a high – but it needs a strong intellectual voice.

It’s an interesting read, and something I’ve been vaguely pondering for a while. There does seem to be a new wave of feminism – I’ve noticed it over the last year or so – but it’s not that good at picking its battles. You could argue feminists shouldn’t pick their battles but fight them all – and maybe that’s true – but maybe the less important battles distract from the more significant ones. The ones we really need to win.

Then again, maybe they are all so interwoven and connected that to win one you have to fight them all.

Take abuse, for example. It seems to me that abuse stems from a negative view of women, as a whole – that women are worth less than men, somehow – something an individual may have picked up from their childhood or absorbed from the media or deduced from the sex trade. If objectification is OK, and it’s OK to see women as sexual objects, is it therefore OK to treat women as objects – to be used as the user wants – to be abused? In short, does objectification lead to abuse? If it does, to win the fight against abuse, we need to win the fight against objectification and of negative views of women as a whole. Any view that women are in some way less than man is potentially dangerous, then, even a view which causes ‘chivalry’ – giving up a seat on a bus, for example.

Then again, to say that ‘chivalry’ is as big a problem is abuse is absurd, right?

I don’t know. It’s very confusing being a feminist in this day and age. And I think the reason for that is we have no clear goal. All the other waves had one. First wave: the right to vote; second wave: the right to work; third wave: now, I’m not sure about that one – it seemed more a continuation of the second to me, but I’ve never studied feminism, I just identify as one. Hang on a minute, which wave are we even in? Why is feminism so confusing?! And why does it matter? What I’m I even talking about? Oh yeah – no clear goal.

Much like this blog post, the current ‘wave’ or whatever it is lacks focus. What do we want? EVERYTHING!!! Obviously, we want equality and because we’ve made progress in the most obvious areas of inequality – i.e. working and the vote, it’s difficult to know which one issue to fight for now. We could go for equality of pay but that’s just not as sexy as fighting the sex trade and objectification. We could fight for the rights of women in countries which haven’t progressed – countries where women are expected to throw themselves into the flames of their husband’s funeral pyre or aren’t allowed to drive because it’s ‘bad for them’ (a symptom of a much deeper problem) but then what would we do about Robin Thicke and the like?

I know I’m having a go but be assured I am also having a go at myself. I frequently catch myself nit-picking about stupid little things and the problem with it is it opens you up to ridicule. It confirms the false view that we don’t need feminism anymore because if we did we wouldn’t be bothering about these little issues but would be standing up to fight the one big problem.

But maybe all these little things are the problem. Because the problem is one big, all-engulfing monster, and really, it always was. Maybe our generation is just so fed up with putting up with the crap that we don’t want to put up with any crap from now on. So, yeah, we’re gonna fight about everything because everything adds to the problem. YEAH.

Or maybe, we need to pick something – anything – and focus on that.

It’s confusing being a feminist in this day and age.

But I do think that the central problem – the inequality – does still exist and does still need to be fought. Because, despite all the progress we’ve made, the following is still true:

Man is defined as a human being and woman as a female – whenever she behaves as a human being she is said to imitate the male

But maybe that’s a topic for another post.

For now, I’ll leave you with this link to the Guardian’s 10 key Simone quotes.

And a confession.

I have never read The Second Sex.

I want to. It’s been on my Goodreads ‘to read’ ‘shelf’ for a while. I just…haven’t got round to it but I will soon. I’ve requested a copy from the library so it should be ready for collection in a couple of days.

Until then…

…I’ve got no follow up. Sorry but I’m kind of frazzled right now.