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Is Feminism Still Worth It?

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Recently I came across an article that women still do more housework than men , so I started asking my friends if they did more housework than their men. The answer was yes. My experience is the same. Yet when it comes to money I split everything down the middle with my boyfriend, and so do my friends. We pay for half of everything, we work just as hard and yet we still do the housework. This may seem insignificant but it is a signal of bigger things.

So what did feminism do for women? Well, a lot, but not enough. It is hard to believe that we couldn't vote, that abortion was illegal and that martial rape was only made illegal in 1993. I could never be a housewife (not there is anything wrong with women who are. My mother was a housewife, and she was brilliant at it) but sometimes I feel like feminism, like any political movement, made things a little difficult for women.

There is the famous quote that feminism lasted a nanosecond but the backlash lasted 40 years. Now we have to work, have kids, keep house, stay thin and groomed and a million other things all at once. We pay for half of everything and still do everything we did before feminism. We just upped our workload.

Whilst having a debate about Feminism on Facebook a friend commented that she hated feminism because it made things harder for women and gave men an excuse not to be chivalrous and give up their seats for women. It got me thinking about whether or not feminism was a good thing for women. Now, the easy answer is yes, but is it strictly true?

I interviewed the amazing and talented Kira Cochrane from the Guardian about her new book Women of the Revolution: Forty Years of Feminism and she had this to say about chivalry:

"I'm pretty happy to see the back of chivalry, because it was based on the idea of women being the weaker sex. That doesn't mean I want doors slammed in my face by the man who's walking in front of me - just that whoever reaches the door first will hold it open, whether it's me or him. In an equal society, I think men and women should treat each other equally well. (Also, I'm happy to go Dutch. I think when one partner pays for everything from the start of a relationship, unless there's a really good reason, that sets up a pretty dodgy power dynamic.)"

However chivalry actually isn't about women being the weaker sex. It is about a bond between Knights and had nothing to do with women at all. Later on it became about good manners. This is what this site says Chivalry means:

1. The sum of the ideal qualifications of a knight, including courtesy, generosity, valor, and dexterity in arms.
2. The rules and customs of medieval knighthood.
3. The medieval system or institution of knighthood.
4. A group of knights.
5. Gallant warriors or gentlemen: fair ladies and noble chivalry.

Her point is spot on. Also a women will never have freedom in a relationship if she is with a man who pays for everything. For a women to have freedom she must have a job and her own money.

Some men do tend to use feminism as a weapon against women. I have heard the line "you wanted equality and you got it" more times than I care to acknowledge, even for the most stupid things. But the great men I know describe themselves as feminists.

My other point on feminism is the sexualisation of today's pop stars. Rihanna, Lady Gaga, Pixie Lott, Jessie J: all of these pop stars frequently are seen just in pants and a bra. I asked Kira what she thought of this and this is what she said.

I really don't like the way that women in the public eye, in their twenties, are criticised for being 'bad role models' for other women in their twenties. It just seems another stick to beat women with. I personally think that women should wear exactly what they like - so long as it IS what they like, that they're following their own desires and enjoying themselves. I think if they're doing that, they set a great example."

Again, her point is spot on. Rihanna owns her sexuality and you feel that singing in her underwear is her choice, but it is not women in their twenties I am worried about. I am in my twenties and I am old enough to make my own fashion choices. Rihanna really isn't going to make me go out just in my pants. It is younger women I worry about. Where are all of the male stars singing in their underwear? A women's body shouldn't be a commodity and some of these stars do not look comfortable. If it is their choice, fine, but these music videos and performances always make me uncomfortable as all I see is a women's body being exploited.

What do you think?

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