punk phd / feminism / motherhood

Monday, November 23, 2009

In which I lose faith (which arguably never existed) in the GSA

Jill Berry, president of the Girls' School Association (GSA), has been popping up in the press recently with some quite alarming, and sometimes contradictory, notions.

Commenting on feminism and fashion and the recent story about Cambridge female undergrads' scantily clad photos, Berry commented that:

"Girls can be highly intelligent and interested in being seen to be attractive – the two aren't mutually exclusive"

For starters, not really a problem. Perhaps the idea of 'being seen to be attractive' is problematic (to me this suggest pampering to the rest of society's/men's version of what this means) but I do support the move away from the 'blonde-bimbo' vs 'ugly geek' dichotomy.

And then Berry claims:

"We must resist the impulse to judge women, to judge them harshly and judge them narrowly"

Lovely. Again, an idea I can get my head around.

But then when an article in The Guardian titled Girls should be 'realistic' about careers and motherhood – schools group head appears, the plot thickens...

Teenage girls need to be taught a heavy dose of realism – that it may not be possible to be a perfect mother and a career woman, the president of the Girls' Schools Association (GSA) will say next week.

Berry is now implying that girls need to be realistic about their futures. That there is 'nothing wrong' with mothers not working once they have children. Firstly, what kind of empowering message is that to young women? That they can be all they want to be but will have to re-think all that once they think about starting a family? Why are we telling girls to be 'realistic'? Why are we accepting that as the reality that women are often placed into positions in which they are pushed back into the private sphere once they give birth? Instead of telling the generation of tomorrow to wise-up about the way the world is, how about educating them on how to change that world?

And you know that what lies beneath this is a discourse of 'bad working mothers'. Considering we weren't meant to be judging women for their choices Berry...

Links to the two articles:

Fashion not a betrayal of feminist ideals
Girls should be realistic about motherhood and careers

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Sunday, November 15, 2009

The Observer's Woman Magazine: A sad goodbye or good riddance to bad rubbish?

Myself and Charlotte weigh up the two sides of the argument over at the Subtext Magazine blog.

Go read my tearful goodbye to the Woman's monthly supplement and Charlotte's rejoice that it's gone.

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Friday, November 06, 2009

Fifites Women - The Daily Mail

The Daily Mail this week has been featuring extracts from a new book on fifties family life. This particular extract caught my eye. Though the piece is probably meant to draw attention to the changes in women's position and highlight how things have 'got better', the whole thing stinks of misplaced nostalgia. The scene is set in the opening paragaph when we are told about Britain in the fifties being a "country where doors were left unlocked, children played in the street and crime levels were low and falling - in fact, a Britain that has long since disappeared". The fact this is then followed by a look at women's position is perhaps now coincidence. Aren't the New Right guilty of looking back to a golden age which never existed, eager to claim a correlation between single/working mothers and juvenile deliquency?

Derek from Kent in the comments seems to have also picked up on the underlining messages promoted in this piece...

This article proves yet again that women should be AT HOME, not at work. It would solve the unemployment crisis instantly. Also a man will be happier at work knowing that there is a nice hot meal waiting for him when he gets home.

...and to think all we need to do to solve unemployment is to get women back into the home. Now why didn't we think of that?

Only in The Daily Mail.

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