(By the) recognition of the entire equality of man and woman as complementary parts of humanity–of one humanity. The complete dependence of man and woman, and their entire inter-dependence. This would mean equal opportunities for education on all lines to both sexes; the free use and development of all their powers; the sharing of by men and women in the great labor, in the results of which they have an equal interest, of framing, interpreting and executing the laws of society; equal advantages and protection under these laws, and equal representation in the government. — Rev. Annis Ford Eastman (1852-1910)
An article in the March 3, 2014 issue of The Nation, “The Empowerment Elite Claims Feminism,” by Jessica Valenti, discusses efforts to subvert the feminist movement from its traditional focus on workplace discrimination and unequal pay. Valenti sees two threats: gentrification and politicization.
Regarding politicization, Valenti writes:
We saw it happen when Sarah Palin called herself a feminist. During and after the 2008 election, Palin–along with other conservative and anti-choice women like those at the Independent Women’s Forum and the Susan B. Anthony List–tried to use feminist language to push for a regressive agenda for women.
Regarding rebranding, Valenti quotes Flavia Dzodan (writer, media analyst and marketing consultant):
Feminism as a brand then becomes another product we consume rather than a movement we build and a framework for political analysis.
Feminism isn’t defined by the media success of Miley Cyrus or Beyoncé Knowles, nor by the success of prominent women in cracking the glass ceiling in business or politics, nor is it represented by efforts to profit by selling pink handguns as fashion accessories. It is about Choice and Abortion Rights, Equal Rights, and Equal Pay.
Equal Pay Day comes on April 8th this year. The days from Jan 1 to April 8 represent how much longer women work to earn what men made last year. Until Equal Pay day comes on January 1, Rev. Eastman’s dream remains unrealized–the struggle for equality must go on.
For those interested, I recommend Jessica Valenti’s article.
© William Hungerford – March 2014