Though I am a self-proclaimed feminist, I discovered recently that the majority of my readers are men. The division between the sexes isn’t large but enough to surprise me. True, I don’t target a specific audience with my blogs. I write what interests me and hope others will come along for the ride. Still, I’m delighted to find that so large a proportion of my readers are of the opposite sex.
In an address to a women’s group a few years ago, I paid tribute to men of the western world. They gave women the right to vote. Women suffered for the cause, certainly, but some stood on the sidelines and others jeered their sisters. A majority of men granted women the franchise, a gift not to be forgotten and for which I am forever grateful.
Sadly, women continue to stand divided on feminist issues. I don’t refer to abortion, though it is one example. I refer to women who insist there is no longer a need for feminism because there are no longer feminist issues. (“Is there still such a thing as a woman’s issue?” by Jessica Grose, More Magazine, Dec. 2014/Jan.15,2015, pgs. 60-68.) As author, Jessica Grose points out, this disdain is most often uttered by outliers — women who live in a privileged bubble, having achieved a level of success the vast majority of their sisters dream about but will never achieve. No feminist issues? How can one hold this view when pay equity with men doesn’t exist? When there is no financial support for childcare or pregnancy leave? When the Supreme Court in the Hobby Lobby case, “allowed a corporation’s religious affiliation to trump a woman’s access to certain forms of contraception and when in state after state laws are being passed to restrict a woman’s right to chose?” (Ibid pg. 68) Women are employed in two thirds of the minimum wage jobs in this country. Shouldn’t we consider decent pay a feminist issue? (Ibid, pg. 68)
Privileged women may not be the best hope for the majority of sisters who have been left behind. But hope does lie on the horizon. The people most likely to advance the aims of the Women’s Movement will be men. Men, particularly the young, have been awakened by feminist demands for paid family leave and workplace flexibility. Accepting their role as nurturers, fathers have seen the need for better childcare, too. A cultural shift is coming. It is born of the Women’s Movement and will be championed by the enlightened men whose eyes that movement has opened.