I've been tagged by Procrastinatrix to do a 5 things meme. I was kind of excited when I found out I was tagged for this as I think that many women younger than myself have quite a distorted view of the feminist movement. Some of them seem embarrassed or hestitant to be associated with a movement which provided women with so many opportunities for personal development.
Perhaps some modern women are a little afraid to identify with feminism as they wrongly perceive that it will detract from their femininity, but then, this suggests to me how strongly the idea of the female stereotype is still entrenched in our cultures.
This is all a little sad for me, as I am one who is old enough to have lived pre-feminism and post-feminism. Yes, you heard it straight from the dingo's tonsils, I am an old broad. My teenage years were the 70's so I lived a lot of this firsthand.
Feminism and the civil rights movement had a lot in common. Basically what these two movements meant to me and to many people, was that for all the people who were NOT born male and white, these people had hope that the opportunities that were available to white males simply because they were born male and white; might be afforded to all people regardless of race or gender.
The men of my father's generation could never quite understand what all the fuss was about. And how could they? They had little idea of what the rest of the population was concerned about as their race and gender guaranteed that they competed only among themselves for political, social and economic power. They didn't have to compete with other males and virtually no women.
It was a time when only single or widowed women were part of the workforce as women had to leave their employment when they married. And they certainly had to leave in a cloud of shame if they were single and became pregnant. This ensured a cycle of poverty for many women and the only way to avoid it was to be either independently wealthy through the family, or to marry and hope that the man you married would have economically sound employment. Women if they had to work, were paid about 2/3 of what a man was paid for the same work, thus once again ensuring a cycle of female poverty for many women which was generational.
There was very little opportunity for women to be financially independent of the "male wallet." Banks wouldn't lend single women money to buy a home unless a male relative would go guarantor. That is, unless he agreed to pay the loan if she defaulted. This excluded most women from property ownership.
Single women, who were allowed to work, as they had no male economic provider, were traditionally sacked over their holiday period and reinstated when their annual leave finished so as to avoid paying them holiday pay.
Women who worked and who took out superannuation policies could not pass the proceeds of their policy to their children or a family member if they died while in the act of being employed. As the women working during this time were either single or widowed, it meant that widows' children did not benefit from any superannuation payout upon the death of their parent.
Rape in marriage was only criminalised as recently as 1982 in Scotland and 1991 in England. Before these dates a woman had no legal protection for the crime of rape if perpetrated against her by her husband. So rape was not recognised in marriage, as a husband was only taking what was his by law.
Educational opportunities were few for women past the compulsory age of school attendence. Girls at high school level could study almost any subject except metal work, woodwork or technical drawing, but they were encouraged to study "Home Economics" which was basically learning to sew, cook, and clean house.
A university education was unheard of for most young women as it was considered a waste of money to send a girl to university if she was only going to get married and not work. The primary reason that some parents would afford to send their daughter to university was so she might be able to shop for marriage material with a better economic prospect. It was rarely for an education in her own right.
So, how did I benefit from the cultural changes which arrived with feminism?
1. I received a university education.
2. I got a loan from a bank to buy a house.
3. I am paid the same as a man for the same work.
4. My superannuation is mine.
5. I can have a career.
One of the myths surrounding the feminist movement was that feminists were demanding that all women work and be financially independent. That somehow they looked down on women who chose a more traditional lifestyle for themselves. I never saw this in reality. The feminist movement allowed women choice, and for that it should be congratulated, not maligned.
So, I tag:
1. Atheist Girl
2. Hellbound Alleee
3. Letters From A Broad
4. Mental Excrements
7. Silly Humans