The harmful trends of the past have been reversed and the problem now, Clodagh Power argues, is that women don’t know what they want…
It only takes a quick glance around most lecture theatres (except perhaps engineering, where there are in fact a few of us wandering about these days) to see that the days of bra burning are gone. And really, it’s for the best.
Not just because no one has any particular wish to find ones breasts located somewhere around their ankles upon reaching the age of 40, but because it’s time we faced up to the fact that feminism no longer has a place.
Studying law here at UCD, the ratio of female to male is about 2:1. The numbers at Blackhall Place (training for solicitors) and King’s Inns (training for barristers) are not too far off. This tends to surprise people as law is often looked at as a male dominated career.
With such a ratio, one might even be tempted to feel sorry for the boys. That is until you realise that they’re perfectly content with these numbers. They intend to take it easy in the safe acknowledgement that women will disappear to have babies in ten years and that’ll leave the big jobs to the men.
Plus there’s the fact that these men get to be surrounded by the beautiful golden oldies of fourth year law every day so they don’t have it too bad at all.
You have to then ask how we can demand to be treated equally when we don’t want to be treated like men
For those women currently wandering around the UCD campus eating, say a Cadbury’s Wispa, do you subconsciously scold yourself that no one is ever going to fancy you if you keep eating this rubbish? Be comforted by the fact that you are not alone. Do not fear though. This has nothing to do with feminism.
Although many women could feed a small nation with the amount we manage to spend on cosmetics alone, image insecurities are not exclusive to women. Are eating disorders among males not worsened by the fact that they are often embarrassed about the nature of their problem? Many women cast off the shackles of a beauty regime in what they describe as a crusade of feminisim, however, these pressures are perhaps best described as universal, and not unique to women.
Female obsession with looks is often totally unconnected to pleasing the descerning eyes of the males of the species. In fact most women dress to impress other women. Many fashionable clothing items, Ugg boots, for example, are not sexually appealing to men, but UCD women have a tribe-like solidarity in their appreciation of the boot.
Feminism is an incredibly broad concept. It can mean so much it begins to lose all meaning. Tempting as it is to leave the fundamental question of defining feminism today to those who know what they’re talking about, let’s give it a shot.
Women are a pretty hypocritical bunch. We love it when a man opens the door. We always offer to pay for dinner or the cinema but often, we hope our offers will be refused.
We like to wear belts as skirts and freeze to death but he had better just keep his mouth shut. And we give our best dirty looks to the sleazy builder who wolf whistles and secretly get upset when he’s quiet. So yes, we have a few contradictions. You have to then ask how we can demand to be treated equally when we don’t want to be treated like men.
It’s that word, equality, that’s the problem. It is a problem because everyone, male or female, defines it differently. Yet women have managed to do quite well out of it all. In a politically correct and litigious society, men are much more careful about what they say and do today.
The chauvinist underpinnings that once polluted the workplace and home no longer exist in today’s world. Instead, we have the emergence of men’s rights. With these rights there is an awareness that protecting the vulnerable in our society goes beyond gender differences.
Men are learning to get past the embarrassment of being perceived as feminine. We have more stay-at-home dads. We see the increase in father’s rights and paternity testing. This incredibly important movement shows us just how far our society has come.
What are we now left with? Gentlemen who treat women in a respectful manner and manage remarkably well to abstain from going down the slippery slope of sexism. Whether it’s out of fear (of getting sued or slapped) or reverence, it would seem that men have quickly retreated from the wicked ways of their forefathers. We no longer need a movement called feminism to be reassured that the respect and dignity we deserve are here to stay.
It is incredible what we have achieved in the feminist movement. Where would we be without the brave women such as Fanny Parnell, who stepped up in the face of overwhelming pressure not to do so?
The times of the suffragettes are over and it is a different battle that we face today. One can honour the work of these noble women but also realise that feminism has evolved so much to no longer have a place in our world today. And is that not exactly what we wanted?