Women Did Not Have Anything Better in the 1960’s

Today’s Huffington Post had an op-ed by Anna David, Women Had it Better in the 60’s, that so rattled me, I wrote a long reply to it. It goes to the heart of how women keep each other down:  we are our own worst enemies whether we’re judging each other’s clothes or mothering styles, competing for male attention, calling each other sluts, siding with men if another woman has been abused, etc.

Feminism is not the problem. That’s like saying because of some wayward people or organizations, civil rights is a problem (and it is still necessary despite Pres Obama being elected). There are real problems, much worse than how single women are treated as the author contends at the crux of this piece, that need feminists to unite — that is women who believe women are equal in body, mind and spirit on a political, social and spiritual level as men. Anytime equality is fought for whether the discrimination is due to gender, sexuality, ethnicity, color, religion, or caste, it is a humanist fight so women who hate on feminism sound like apologists to me. If not for feminists, none of us would be writing; we’d be making babies only or dying trying to do so.

This op-ed is full of so many flaws that it’s hard to know where to begin. It is disturbing on so many levels. First, as an op-ed, the arguments for the thesis, as flimsy as it is, hold no water. It is poorly researched and relies on one text to make its case for an entire time period and subsequent generations.  Women did not, in any shape, way or form have it better in the 1960’s. You don’t need to see or read “The Help” to know that.  I am not a white, Christian woman so I would not even have been given opportunities to go to the Ivy League I worked my tail off to get into or have a profession, much less have a voice in society.

Rape, sexual abuse, unwanted pregnancies, eating disorders are able to be discussed and women have support groups and options. Pay rates and sexual harassment are at least on the table. There is no profession a woman does not have an in-road to today.  And women are acknowledged and well-reflected in all their stages of life.

In which way is single-dom not celebrated as the author most singularly notes? Her emphasis on that topic belies perhaps what she herself is railing against. The media celebrates it through its myriad TV shows and films. My girlfriends celebrate it. There is a magazine for every phase, esp the single phase.  And when some of us got married, we knew we were allowed to be individuals still. When we became mothers, we knew fathers needed to play equal roles in child rearing.  We can be into Sephora’s latest lipsticks and still run a corporation. All beliefs that are new.

I am a feminist and I thank every feminist before me: those in the public eye and those who made hundreds of silent sacrifices to enable the kind of enpowered life I have today.

And btw, to choose whether or not to be photographed scantily clad is a personal choice, whatever the reasons may be. Respecting another woman’s choice rather than dissing her, which is sadly what so many women like you do to others, is also what feminism is about: solidarity.


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