Today’s young women have betrayed feminism

I squarely blame the young with their foolish apathy and criminal self-indulgence

Share

Kate appeared at the Queen’s birthday parade, big with baby, smiling, blooming. She, who wore an ice- cream pink outfit, is a perfect icon of today’s womanhood – rich and canny, compliant in public, not fearsomely feminist but sweetly feminine, a princess who, unlike rebellious Diana, may just live happily ever after because she fits in and fits our times. Hundreds of thousands of young, female undergraduates want Kate’s life and luck. Why that should be so is too depressing for me to ponder. But it is so.

Other stories appeared this week about beautiful women having plastic surgery and also about pretty Kim Sears, the girlfriend of tennis champion Andy Murray, who is still waiting for a proposal. We learnt that the next Bridget Jones film is being made about that hopeless and dependent woman addicted to dieting and romance. Yes I have watched these movies and laughed, but then thought of the grim messages they convey. And the popular confessional journalist, Liz Jones, had extracts published from her memoir. Here is a taster: “[I wish] someone had told me I was normal and acceptable then I wouldn’t have spent my life trying so hard to be better than I am. Lying. Manipulating. Tanning. Plucking. Jogging. Dieting.”

Shame on those women between 20 and 40 who have squandered the hard-won achievements of original feminism. And to add insult to self-injury, these younger generations seem proud that they dissed and dumped all we fought for. We expected better and more from those who followed. It is, I know, very fashionable these days for the young to blame baby boomers for being “selfish” and spoiling it all. Well enough of that. I squarely blame the young, who, through foolish apathy, criminal self-indulgence and sometimes uninformed loathing of the women’s movement, have ensured that our social, political and economic environment is less fulfilling, much less safe, less equal and less nurturing than it was even in the 70s and 80s when we old Fems were burning bras and raising hell. There are exceptions. There are always exceptions, but what matters are the common narratives and those, alas, are regressive and anti-women.

Are they proud, the “post-feminists”, when their eyes scan the landscape? Catharine MacKinnon, radical feminist campaigner and theorist in the 1980s, wrote compellingly of how “the eroticisation of dominance and submission” creates social norms for male/female relationships way beyond the bedroom. So what do we get now? The bestselling Fifty Shades of Grey, a God-awful S&M trilogy, mainstreaming the idea of male domination and “knowing” female submission. The almost total pornification of Britain is now used without any embarrassment by males, aided and abetted by females. Internet porn sewage swills around and is defended in the name of “freedom”. In one Sunday tabloid I found a full page advert for porn DVDs. You too could have Black and White Babes, Uni Girls in Sex Heaven, Gang Babes, Teen Group Sex costing a pound each. Meanwhile most modern girls suffer from body image problems; many find it hard to say no to sex; too many boys associate sex with porn images where females are roughly taken and look like Barbie dolls.

Prominent feminists used to say pornography is a metaphor for women’s defeat in the long war for respect and parity. We are defeated. A report by the IPPR think-tank found that ambitious, middle-class, professional women are now more or less equal to their male counterparts, but that those on low wages and with little power are actually doing worse. I went to Ladywood, Birmingham last week, where 70 per cent of children are raised by single mothers with little money. They do their best and most look much older than they really are, both mums and children. The cuts are hitting women much more savagely than men. The cost of childcare is forcing the poor out of the legitimate job market, so many are forced into twilight jobs with slave wages. (This is happening to men too.)

The rape and murder of women, horrendous in real life, are now favourite subjects for slick thrillers, in which lady detectives lead the investigations. Domestic violence remains high and facilities to help the women are closing down. There was a shocking reminder of how vulnerable even the most powerful women can be with pictures in a Sunday newspaper, showing Charles Saatchi with his hands around the neck of his wife Nigella Lawson at an outside table of a restaurant. She was in tears.

With such a depressing scenario, it was good to hear that journalist Charlotte Raven, 43, once a wild child of Thatcherism, was to re-launch Spare Rib, the influential feminist mag which started in 1972 and died in 1993. It would be engaging, promised Raven, surprising, political and sharp. And then Marsha Rowe and Rosie Boycott, the two original founders, both of whom I like and admire, threatened to sue Raven if she used their title name. Damn pity that. We needed this mag to appear and succeed.

But never mind, soon Kate and William’s baby will be born, and young British women will rejoice and talk about little else. Transformative politics? Not for them. They have cuter things on their little minds.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Lead Teacher of Thinking School Drive Team and Year 3 Form teacher

Competitive: Notting Hill Prep School: Spring Term 2015 Innovative, ambitious ...

Operations Data Analyst - London - up to £25,000

£20000 - £25000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: Operations Data Analyst -...

Programmatic Business Development Manager

£35 - £40000 per annum: Sauce Recruitment: As the Programmatic Business Develo...

Year 5 Teacher

Negotiable: Randstad Education Hull: Randstad Education is currently recruitin...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

Daily catch-up: out of time, polling and immigration and old words

John Rentoul
Oscar Pistorius sentencing: The athlete's wealth and notoriety have provoked a long overdue debate on South African prisons

'They poured water on, then electrified me...'

If Oscar Pistorius is sent to jail, his experience will not be that of other inmates
James Wharton: The former Guard now fighting discrimination against gay soldiers

The former Guard now fighting discrimination against gay soldiers

Life after the Army has brought new battles for the LGBT activist James Wharton
Ebola in the US: Panic over the virus threatens to infect President Obama's midterms

Panic over Ebola threatens to infect the midterms

Just one person has died, yet November's elections may be affected by what Republicans call 'Obama's Katrina', says Rupert Cornwell
Premier League coaches join the RSC to swap the tricks of their trades

Darling, you were fabulous! But offside...

Premier League coaches are joining the RSC to learn acting skills, and in turn they will teach its actors to play football. Nick Clark finds out why
How to dress with authority: Kirsty Wark and Camila Batmanghelidjh discuss the changing role of fashion in women's workwear

How to dress with authority

Kirsty Wark and Camila Batmanghelidjh discuss the changing role of fashion in women's workwear
New book on Joy Division's Ian Curtis sheds new light on the life of the late singer

New book on Ian Curtis sheds fresh light on the life of the late singer

'Joy Division were making art... Ian was for real' says author Jon Savage
Sean Harris: A rare interview with British acting's secret weapon

Sean Harris: A rare interview with British acting's secret weapon

The Bafta-winner talks Hollywood, being branded a psycho, and how Barbra Streisand is his true inspiration
Tim Minchin, interview: The musician, comedian and world's favourite ginger is on scorching form

Tim Minchin interview

For a no-holds-barred comedian who is scathing about woolly thinking and oppressive religiosity, he is surprisingly gentle in person
Boris Johnson's boozing won't win the puritan vote

Boris's boozing won't win the puritan vote

Many of us Brits still disapprove of conspicuous consumption – it's the way we were raised, says DJ Taylor
Ash frontman Tim Wheeler reveals how he came to terms with his father's dementia

Tim Wheeler: Alzheimer's, memories and my dad

Wheeler's dad suffered from Alzheimer's for three years. When he died, there was only one way the Ash frontman knew how to respond: with a heartfelt solo album
Hugh Bonneville & Peter James: 'Peter loves his classic cars; I've always pootled along fine with a Mini Metro. I think I lack his panache'

How We Met: Hugh Bonneville & Peter James

'Peter loves his classic cars; I've always pootled along fine with a Mini Metro. I think I lack his panache'
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's heavenly crab dishes don't need hours of preparation

Bill Granger's heavenly crab recipes

Scared off by the strain of shelling a crab? Let a fishmonger do the hard work so you can focus on getting the flavours right
Radamel Falcao: How faith and love drive the Colombian to glory

Radamel Falcao: How faith and love drive the Colombian to glory

After a remarkable conversion from reckless defender to prolific striker, Monaco's ace says he wants to make his loan deal at Old Trafford permanent
Terry Venables: Premier League managers must not be allowed to dictate who plays and who does not play for England

Terry Venables column

Premier League managers must not be allowed to dictate who plays and who does not play for England
The Inside Word: Brendan Rodgers looks to the future while Roy Hodgson is ghost of seasons past

Michael Calvin's Inside Word

Brendan Rodgers looks to the future while Roy Hodgson is ghost of seasons past