Friday, June 06, 2008
And then today I ran into a piece published in The Guardian by Kira Cochrane entitled "Now, the backlash" an insightful, well-rounded and poignnant piece on the backlash of feminism. Touching upon subjects such as the prevalence of sexual harassment, the declining rates of rape conviction in the UK, discrimination in the workplace and the obsession with female celebrities and their pregnancies, just a few statistics are enough to acknowledge that the feminist agenda has accomplished a lot, and much more is pending.
Even though women have come a long way, we are still underpaid, underemployed, undervalued (devalued?), and under protected by the law. Furthermore, some of the rights we thought were guaranteed now suddenly are being discussed again. One, clearly being the issue of abortion rights (recently discussed in the UK and currently being discussed in the Supreme Court for Mexico City's case). It seems that birthing is attractive when being carried out by Angelina Jolie, but if you happen to be her employer, according to statistics provided by Cochrane, 68% would rather not have hired her (given that it is illegal for an employer to ask a woman about her family plans).
Still, I am a positive person at heart, and found Cochrane's theory of this backlash somewhat uplifting. It is exactly the small gains, the baby steps if you will, that strengthen this backlash. The feminist debate is growing, and maybe the backlash is indeed a sort of pendulum reaction to the accomplishments achieved other the past decades. As Professor Liz Kelly, chair of the End Violence Against Women campaign, very eloquently explains: "What a backlash does is it curtails us, but we never take those two steps back, and that's what I think can send the conservatives...and the rightwingers...absolutely wild...What do they think we're going to do?... Go back into the kitchen and make a sandwich?"
Thursday, June 05, 2008
Pre-Roe v. Wade women rarely reported who performed back-alley abortions on them and no one was taking note of the women who ended up dead or severely damaged from self-inflicted abortions. The data we have available to us is anecdotal, through word of mouth, as is much of women's history.
"There I saw and treated almost every complication of illegal abortion that one could conjure, done either by the patient herself or by an abortionist — often unknowing, unskilled and probably uncaring. Yet the patient never told us who did the work, or where and under what conditions it was performed. She was in dire need of our help to complete the process or, as frequently was the case, to correct what damage might have been done.
The patient also did not explain why she had attempted the abortion, and we did not ask. This was a decision she made for herself, and the reasons were hers alone. Yet this much was clear: The woman had put herself at total risk, and literally did not know whether she would live or die.
This, too, was clear: Her desperate need to terminate a pregnancy was the driving force behind the selection of any method available."
Firstly, women still do most of the housework in France, so lets not pretend that the 1950s are so far away.
Secondly, as a someone commented on Bremner's post on this campaign, what the hell happened to the non-white population in France? Yes, we get that the ads are supposed to be a joke but for those of us who don't think it's funny, it's just reinforcing sexist and racist stereotypes.