I don’t know what “wave” of feminism I represent. I have been a feminist since the 50s and it has always felt like a slog up a high hill, admittedly starting from somewhere already up the slope. I have never reached any water let alone glamorous waves!
But what has been happening since the concept of “waves” was first promulgated has left me confused. The reality sounds more like an eddy, sometimes a vortex . If it has been waves then lot of useful sand has been sucked out to sea at times. No, I’ve got it. A mixmaster going at full speed spitting out various mixtures to our tastes might now days rightfully represent our gender.
I am often, probably legitimately, criticised by my (feminist) son for some of my opinions, inter alia my idea that choice within feminism is sometimes inappropriate for any woman at anytime. He says that when I deride the idea of “choice” being an essential part of all feminism I am actually saying that my choices are better than the choices of others. I take this point but still think that “choice” can be a slippery slope in some areas (take as an example foot bending stilettos) unless one has a full understanding of all the issues that may have influenced such a choice and why, rather than merely “they look smart.” But indeed I am probably at fault here, as he contends, in thinking the irrefutable science is the only issue.
However I cannot let go, even if I am at risk of implying “I know better”, when it is an issue that can cloud children’s outlooks so that, as adults, they may never have an opportunity to see past childhood indoctrinations.
Today I received in the mail an advertisement from one of my favourite shops, “Spotlight”. It was an advertisement for party needs including children’s dress up clothes. I scanned with a small sigh of regret the face paint with glitter being advertised with only a picture of a girl. The three hats which were advertised were a pale pink pointy hat worn by a girl, a dark pink fairy crown also worn by a girl and a yellow builder’s hard hat worn by a boy. But these indeed could arguably be matters of choice.
Then I moved onto Superheros. They were divided into boy and girl Superheros. Spotlight, undoubtedly, is trying to do something here for feminism. A shelf of superhero costumes displaying wares in a way that indicated suitability for either gender at play would be great. But no, boys had all the advertised rights to the conventional costumes; to the proven heroes. The girl Superheros all come accessoried with a tutu. I would love to see the Superaerodynamics involved in the coping with a tutu whilst diving swiftly through the skies. How could Spider hero climb a wall without either squashing her tutu or being pushed off the wall by it in the midst of a delicate rescue mission? And I don’t know how Robin would cope at the sight of the tutu.
Just as one cannot be a builder without wearing a hard hat, neither can one be a super hero, such as a paramedic, a firefighter, a deep sea rescue diver, an astronaught etc. wearing a tutu.
Whilst so ever young girls and boys, ever so innocently, are being bombarded with these specificities of inequality by gender how can we not question the effect that this has on the capacities of all of us to make informed choices as adults?