Saturday, December 20, 2008

Wither Feminism?

We are a group of professionals from various disciplines who study women's place in the economy. We are collecting signatures to a letter to President-Elect Obama concerning jobs for women at the following site. Please go there to sign and forward it to people who would like to join in the effort.

A while ago I was invited by a colleague to be on a panel discussing "Feminist BS." I did my research and, armed with the latest data on discrimination, sex segregation in the labor force, and male-female wage gaps, sallied forth to enter the fray.

The venue, as I discovered, was a small theater with black walls and various avantgarde accoutrements. The panel consisted of me and another female academic, an extremely tribal gay guy and the drama critic of the local PBS radio station who was dressed in a witchy/ethnic outfit I suspect she ordered from the Pyramid Collection. The topic, it turned out, was whether feminism as a theatrical style was out-dated. My data fell flat and I felt like a fool.

I never realized that feminism was a "theatrical style" in the first place. I thought it was all about sex segregation in the labor force, male-female wage gaps and, more generally, eliminating gender-based constraints, restrictions and expectations that limit the choices of both men and women. I thought it was about removing unnecessary restrictions and providing more real options for everyone.

Feminism as a theatrical style is certainly bs and so, I believe is feminism as the ethic of care, the exultation of the Eternally Feminism, and Goddess worship, feminism as the Battle of the Sexes and feminism as the Solidarity of the Oppressed. Feminism is about jobs, wages and opportunities.

That is what this petition is about. Please sign at Here is the text:

To President-Elect Obama:

We applaud your intention to establish a sizeable and productive program that will help to stimulate the economy, and that will provide improved infrastructure for the country. However, we are concerned that, unless specific steps are taken, your program will provide jobs almost exclusively for men. Women are 46 percent of the labor force. Their unemployment rate is rising with that of men. Moreover, many millions of women are raising children without a husband or partner, and unemployment for them will mean great deprivation, and possible homelessness, for them and their children.

We suggest three lines of action that will insure that women get a fair
share of the benefits from your program:

1. Revive and enforce the Labor Department regulations that require government contractors to institute affirmative action plans that provide a share of the jobs for women and minorities. Closely monitor the contractors for compliance.

2. In connection with the infrastructure projects, institute apprenticeships, and insure that at least one third of the positions go to women.

3. Add projects in health, child care, education, social service that will both provide jobs to women, and also provide needed services to them.


Eugenio Mastroviti said...

I'm sorry, I may be just an ignorant foreigner, but whaddahell is "feminism as a theatrical style"?

H. E. said...

Beats the heck out of me. And I've missed my chance to find out since the consensus was that "feminism as a theatrical style" was outdated and so was no longer done.

Anonymous said...