Thursday, November 20, 2008

Words from the wise

by Chloe Angyal

The Daily Beast's Sexism Poll, which was conducted by Penn, Schoen & Berland Associates, released its findings this week. Some of them are really interesting (and, predictably, some of them are downright disheartening):

By an overwhelming 61% to 19% margin, women believe there is a gender bias in the media.

Only 20% of women are willing to use the word "feminist" about themselves. Only 17% of all voters said they would welcome their daughters using that label.

4 in 10 men freely admit sexist attitudes towards a female president. 39% of men say that a male is "naturally more suited" to carrying out the duties of the office.

63% of women said the press did not treat women equally during this year’s Presidential campaign; more than two thirds of women said that they were being treated unfairly in the workplace (68%) and in politics (72%).

Finally, and tellingly, women over 50, the first generation to have a majority in the workforce, see far more discrimination in every area of life than younger women.
This reflects the attitude I see among young women quite often, the perception that feminism is no longer necessary because its work is done. Equal pay legislation got passed, right? Game over. We have access to birth control, right? Move on! A woman just ran for Vice-President, for God’s sake! Feminism is moot!

And yet, women over 50, those who were on the front lines during the Women’s Movement of the 1970s, say that we still have work to do. I’m young and headstrong, and while I'm convinced, like any young person, that I know everything, I’m inclined to listen to those older, wiser women. They’ve been around, and they know discrimination when they see it. Having lived through the sweeping social changes that have occurred in this country since their adolescence, and having watched women gain so much, they know how much still remains to be achieved.

In a year when 72% of us think that women are being treated unfairly in politics, our work is not done. In a year when 63% of women think that the press didn’t treat women equally in the campaign, the game is not over. And in a year when 40% of men freely admit to having a sexist attitudes towards a female President, feminism is sure as hell not moot.

So listen to your moms and grandmas, ladies; they are wise and worldly women. Unless of course, they’re among the voters who said they wouldn’t welcome their daughters calling themselves “feminists.”

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