Is Feminism Out of Date?

Abigail O’Reilly on why girl power is still needed
Thursday , 14 April 2011
Is Feminism Out of Date?
Heidi Montag

Feminism is often dismissed as an out-dated ideology; even though its central objective hasn’t yet been achieved. Despite claims the fight’s been won, so-called gender equality is a fallacy. When women in the 70s burned their bras, do you think they imagined 30 years on women would be taking their bras off in a whole different manner: in lads mags and tabloid papers? Now more than ever we’re bombarded with images of scantily clad females and all this is doing is teaching a generation that a woman’s value is directly proportionate to her sexual desirability.

It’s not surprising that a recent survey revealed that 32 per cent of girls aged 13 to 18 were aspiring models, compared with just 20 per cent of wannabe doctors. The message widely disseminated is that a breast enhancement is a more promising investment than an education. What’s more, while UK equal pay legislation came into force 40 years ago, women working full-time still earn, on average, 16.4 per cent less per hour than their male counterparts.

In Britain, there is a complete dearth of female executives – only 10 per cent of directors, nine per cent of High Court judges and 14 per cent of Vice Chancellors are women. The women who do forge careers in male-dominated environments not only find their professional prospects are directly affected by personal choices such as pregnancy, but they must accept that innuendo and sexist jokes are par for the course.

Were we that surprised when we read how TV sports presenters Richard Keyes and Andy Gray made a joke about football linesman Sian Massey’s understanding of the offside rule? Their comments happened to be recorded, but how long before that had Sian simply had to put up with being ridiculed just for being a woman?

There is no shortage of statistics demonstrating the persistence of gender inequality. Yet instead of inciting both slack-jawed horror and progressive action, they’re considered proof that unfairness is part of the status quo. Introspection is detrimental because parity between the sexes cannot be achieved through individual determination alone, but requires a collective effort to promote the need for change. Gender inequality is the cause of female social and professional exclusion and, until this is challenged directly, it will remain a source of oppression.