This is a blog for anyone who can shed a little light on the male species.
A new topic and poll will be posted each week.
The most original comment or the best quote produced by a blogger, will get Quote of the Week and an honourable place in the Fuzzy Naval Diaries.
Posts by men are greatly appreciated as well.
It's not the men in my life that count, it's the life in my men.
- Mae West

08 January 2007

Before I start specifically writing posts about men, I'd like to get some idea of where both women and men stand with feminism.

For a lot of women, calling oneself a feminist is not an easy thing to do. It is difficult to define what a feminist is. And there is no rule book on how to be a feminist. No one would presume, for example, that women who stay at home to raise a family oppose feminism.

The status of women however, in the corporate sector, in the general workplace, in government policy, and in the home, is still greatly undervalued.

So what's up with feminism?

According to the ‘lipstick feminists’, a new generation of feminists from the 1990s, it is alive and well, albeit with a makeover. The days of bra-burning and other such political activism are no longer relevant for them.

Feminism has changed in many ways. Media savvy culture in the Western world has played a big part in giving it new cultural expression.

A TV series from the 1990s, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, provided fresh material for women’s studies in the universities. The Bitch Magazine, which features articles by feminists in response to popular culture, is in its 10th year of publication. And the expression, ‘girl power’, made famous by the all-girl pop group, Spice Girls, has become a catch phrase for feminism.

The Oxford Dictionary Online defines girl power as ‘a self-reliant attitude among girls and young women manifested in ambition, assertiveness and individualism’.

But is this attitude sending the wrong messages?

The sense of irony in girl power actually undermines women’s liberation. The term itself just sounds silly. And if it is to be taken seriously at all, it feeds into a mindset that sets women and men apart as ‘us’ versus 'them’ rather than as ‘us’ and ‘them’.

Dressed up as girl power, feminism is also in danger of falling prey to popular psychology; an industry that thrives on narcissism. In addition to raking in millions of dollars from people’s insecurities, popular psychology prizes individualism over and above anything else.

The buzzword in popular psychology is 'self-empowerment'. For motivational speakers, who jump up and down on stage and wave their excessively over sized hands about, self-empowerment is the key to personal growth.

In much the same way that feminism is dressed up as girl power, self-empowerment is used at the expense of self-esteem. It's equivalent to sticking your fingers into an electric wall socket. You might feel a sudden surge of power within and live to tell about it, but you may never be quite the same again. And that's probably not a good thing for the rest of us.

All the balloons, the bells and whistles, and the general hoopla of popular psychology are no substitute for good old fashioned self-esteem.

Self-esteem is affected by both personal psychology and society. And that is why terms like self-empowerment and girl power are disingenuous; they do not correspond to the daily grind of the social world.

If anything is to be gained from girl power, it is lost on generating the social or political changes that are necessary for women’s equality, and on finding fertile ground for cultivating self-esteem.

Are we only left with celebrating some kind of warped version of feminism in a celebrity like Paris Hilton? - Posted by Solaris

(Anon. option is available)

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