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Generation Y and Feminism: A Feminist's Work Is Never Done

The F Word: A Feminist's Work Is Never Done

For Generation X feminism was an eye roll-inducing word, but for Gen Y it's just a word. It's not worthy of anger or praise; it's a word for a war that's over. Newsweek, though, has set out to prove a generation wrong, and it's using itself as the example.

In 1970, 46 women employees of Newsweek filed a gender-discrimination case because women were not allowed to write. Producer, director, and (let's not forget) writer Nora Ephron's first job was at Newsweek in 1962. She described the magazine's ethos best in "My First New York," this week's New York magazine article featuring the famous and nonfamous remembering their arrival in the Big Apple.

I said I hoped to become a writer, and the man who interviewed me assured me that women weren’t writers at Newsweek. It would never have crossed my mind to object or to say, “You’re going to turn out to be wrong about me.” It was a given in those days that if you were a woman and you wanted to do certain things, you were going to have to be the exception to the rule. I was hired as a mail girl, for $55 a week.

This story is so foreign it's almost quaint. After all Ephron did prove him wrong. But somewhere between it not occurring to her to speak up in 1962 and 2010, feminism became loud, insufferable, embarrassing, and finally silent. It's not the idea young women reject (feminism only means gender equality), but its usefulness in a world where women outnumber men in college and a recession that hit men so hard it has its own name. When you consider the prefix "post" was attached to feminism as early as 1919, it's no wonder women grew weary of it long ago. But to find out why total gender equality is still a myth,



"I don't think that not wanting to identify yourself as a feminist is particular to this generation," says New York Times columnist Gail Collins. "But the assumption that everything is fine is very strong with this [group]." Yet as Newsweek illustrates with numerous statistics, gender equality remains a myth. Women may write for the magazine now, but men wrote 43 of its 49 cover stories in 2009. Go beyond Newsweek and outside New York, and women make 77 cents on the male dollar. Data from the Department of Education shows women earn 20 percent less than men (across all professions) despite having higher GPAs in every subject.

So the question really isn't whether feminism's work is finished, but rather how can it be when everyone thinks it is?

Join The Conversation
ShaynaLeah ShaynaLeah 7 years
I hate that the term feminist is synonymous with unshaven, man-hating, lesbian, crew cut, patchouli oil, ugly shoe wearing, unfeminine, bitter, and so many other terms that don't appy to me - and I am a feminist. I've devoted my blog to investigating the wage gap, and making other women aware that it is a problem, which many women are not aware of - We think that just because we're in the work force we're even with men, but the differences in compensation are glaring and disgraceful. If you don' belive me I strongly urge you to check out the Catalyt Organizations report on the MBA students they have been following since they graduated in the 1980s, and the disparity in opportunities offered to women. Truthfully I am angry - I don't like that this isn't fair, and that spurs me to work with Dress for Success, to write about it to raise awareness - I'm not bitter, because every day I wake up and affect this and I believe in the power of change
hypnoticmix hypnoticmix 7 years
I agree women and our society still have some issues to reconcile. I was just having a like conversation with an older friend of mine re: Gays in society and I think the same conclusion applies here. Because things have become comfortable people have forgotten as though getting 75% of the rights we are entitled to was enough so we all relaxed. The question is how do we assemble the troops for the last charge.
luckyP luckyP 7 years
In my mind a feminist admits that men and women are different. That's not to say that there aren't things we both can do, but there are things that women can do that men can't, and things that men can do that women can't. But if we are doing the same job, with the same responsibilities, than we should get the same pay and same benefits. I also believe that people shouldn't get better or worse treatment based on their sex or gender. Affirmative action is no one's friend.
Yesi-Jukebox Yesi-Jukebox 7 years
postmodern - I am the same age as you and though i've never identified myself as a feminist I do agree with a lot of ideas and I am also disturbed at how close minded people can be when it comes to the term "feminist". But I do hope that in the years to come we can become a little more equal.
postmodernsleaze postmodernsleaze 7 years
I have identified myself as a feminist ever since I was old enough to understand what it meant (I'm Gen Y, born in '87), but know many people who do not identify with the word and/or have an extreme misunderstanding of the word (as in it means you are male-bashing, head-shaving, furry-legged, furry-armpitted, angry lesbian). In my opinion, feminism is one of the most sorely misunderstood concepts out there. This is at least something I've noticed among people in my age group.
nancita nancita 7 years
This is a really great post. I get very frustrated in my personal and social life when people act as if feminism is quaint, and I'm amazed that in this day and age, expressing feminist stances or even admitting that there is still gender inequality can prompt eye rolls. Yet the continuing salary gap, not to mention the gender inequality in most of my friends' relationships and other societal norms, makes me want to continue to fight the feminist fight.
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