Two young women stood at the bus stop this morning. I think they might have been in their early twenties, but it is possible they were older.
They had that kind of look that is de rigueur right now – the fancy nails, the tan, the sleekly straightened hair. There was bling and high heels. And lots of texting.
As a woman on the brink of fading into the shadows that line the streets due to the rapid encroachment of middle age (yes, that is too what society thinks) I like to pay attention to these young women because I figure they have their fingers on the pulse of culture so I might actually learn something. That, and I am an incorrigible eavesdropper.
This is what I learned today.
Both of these women were discussing what they were getting for Christmas from their significant others. It wasn’t just a book they were expecting or even a few CDs. Oh no, these women were after the glittering prize for Christmas. Tiffany’s was mentioned. Diamonds. White gold. Figures like two grand and three grand were thrown about with such an air of nonchalance that I and many of my fellow commuters couldn’t help but glance at them to see whether or not they were joking.
They went on and on about how much stuff they expected, the price tag getting higher and higher, loud and slightly obnoxious, they were starting to get on everyone’s nerves. And then they said something that absolutely floored me.
‘Feminism is dead,’ they said. ‘Make him pay.’
A lot of younger women don’t get how bad things were before the feminist movement got going. Even my generation didn’t experience patriarchal society at its worst. I would have thought that young women of today would be thankful they are able to enjoy a high level of equality in the workplace as well as control over their own bodies. They are independent like never before. Yet their statement that feminism is dead suggests not only a lack of gratitude towards the women who forged a new social order but a disdain for the movement in the first place.
But it’s the make him pay bit with its sinister undertones that worries me. What about caring, conversation and companionship? Surely the new raison d’etre in a relationship isn’t just cold, hard cash?
What do you think?
Is feminism dead?
Or has it been redefined so cleverly, so covertly, so cynically that it no longer resembles what it once was?
When I was in my early 20s (about 20 years ago now) and a keen feminist my mother made the observation that feminism or no feminism some women would always be horrible and/or stupid. She wasn’t wrong.
These women can learn for themselves what kind of crap relationship you are left with if you choose a man for his money. They will be dumped for younger, thinner models when the time comes. They will be bitter middle-aged women. You see a lot of them around. It’s sad. Definitely sad…but not the only way in which human beings can be a disappointment as a species!
They were probably trying to shock listeners a bit too…an odd rebellion but there’s no accounting for tastes…
Obviously these young women have no idea of what feminism or love is all about. It seems to me that their significant others are considered just a wallet with legs. How very sad on all counts.
How right you are. You do see a lot of them around. Are there more than there used to be or are we just more aware of them? I can’t be sure. You’re spot on about the shock element. I think they knew they had an audience. Thank God they didn’t start talking about their sex lives!
It’s a shame, isn’t it? ‘A wallet with legs’ is such an apt expression. Poor guys. I feel sorry for whoever they were.
I’d hope feminism isn’t dead because I believe I think women still face obstacles. Certainly many in-roads have been made but in Canada women still earn less, they are still under represented in senior management ranks, in parliament and all that…
I think there will always be greedy awful people out there. They just happen to be two of them. (And oh, how that kind of thing makes my blood boil.)
I think a lot of young women today have no clue what it was like 30+ years ago.
Back in the 70’s, my mom decided to go into the ministry after my dad ran off with his trophy cookie from the office. She was a 40-year-old divorced mother of three embarking on a second career which had historically been dominated by men.
It was really rough—she faced a lot of discrimination not only by some congregations, but by some of her fellow ministers as well. It was bad enough that she was a woman—but a DIVORCED woman—how dare she?
A few weeks ago when my son was in the hospital, I was chatting with the chaplain, and mentioned that my mom had retired after 25 years as a pastor. The chaplain actually “knew of” my mom! She asked me to thank my mom for being a pioneer and helping to pave the way for other women in the ministry.
I was so proud.
Ah my love, sometimes good people act like morons when around each other – I am NOT a man basher at all, but have caught myself getting sucked into the game with women at work sometimes.
I agree with Nat – there is still much to be done in terms of basic equality for women. This kind of CRAP certainly doesn’t help anybody’s cause, though. Sheesh!
Oh um, wow. Sounds to me they are two little vapid fishes in a big sea of other people that they have no idea exist. How very sad.
What Rachel Fox said, above: feminism or no, some women are just UGH.
Feminism is not dead but I don’t think it lives in the hearts of vapid little girls who have had life handed to them. Women of a certain age are better at feminism than younger girls, mostly.
Faiqa wrote an excellent post about this redefining of feminism.
I don’t think feminism is dead. I also don’t think those two girls have any idea what feminism is.
i look at the young women, all primped within a hair of their lives, and i think we’re back in the 50s. in a sense, in terms of the way societal norms and expectations have swung, we ARE, certainly compared to when i was that age in the 90s.
the only difference is i’m not sure the blame falls so squarely on the patriarchy.
i live in hope that the pendulum swings again soon and the new 60s come fast. even if they render me obsolete and ridiculously old.
The “Feminism is dead” line in particular should’ve been the main clue about the culprit here. I’m not sure exactly when Feminism became paying for dinner and the movie, but clearly this is the understanding these girls have. Similarly, their definition if chivalry probably also revolves around the cash, and as such, they’re in for long, lonely lives when the money and good looks run out.
It was an interesting choice of words, a phrase that these two must have overheard from someone else. I don’t believe they probably understood what feminism is and what it has meant over the last 40 years. There desire to make the man pay and to be adorned with lavish gifts is a sad comment on their MTV gotta have it, don’t care who pays for it generation. No respect for themselves or for the guy in the picture. They want to live like the girls they see on MTV and don’t give a crap about being independent and equal in the sense their mothers did because they have not know the sting of inequality in the workplace or society in general. In some ways they have turned the corner on feminism meaning that have went to top of the mountain and they are now on their way back down, undoing much of what was done for them and sticking it to the man just because. May they find their own way, a way of love, a way that does not honor the glitz and the selfishness. Thanks for sharing.
Ack. Found you via a Twitter Retweet. Just wanted to say i still have brothers in their 20s and they have chosen ones high above the vapid level, but there are a lot of girls that i see that fall squarely into this category. City or suburb, seems like we have entered an era just as Bon described. Lord help us all.
Born in the sixties and coming of age in the seventies, feminism is ingrained in me. And thus in my daughters as it will be many other daughters and granddaughters. (And thus, for the record, it is not dead.) Still, hearing such nonsense from the fingernailed pair is irksome and disturbing.
On the other hand, like several of your commenters, I’m sure they have no idea what they’re talking about. I’m inclined to say they’ve heard it from rich, ultra conservative daddy, but then again they’re riding the bus, no? To me, Tiffany’s wearers don’t usually ride buses. (Unless you’re Audrey Hepburn being charming AND poor in a fiction movie.)
These gals are putting on a show. A sad one. And if they’re needing to denounce something like girl power in the name of scoring diamonds from their boyfriends and getting bus riders to notice them, then I don’t expect life will ever be as cheery as they tell everyone it is.
The blind materialism is part of it as Tobeme has said. Those young women should watch out they might very well get what they are wishing for- a world where feminism is dead and where making him pay is the norm. He will demand what he popped out the cash for and discussion will not enter in to it.
I dont think feminism is dead but I do see a rise of the trash celebrity culture as something to aspire to in young women today. There seems to be a lack of pride in many of them in not only their approach to the outside world but also in themselves. I had a conversation with an 18 year old girl (she was a girl, not a young woman) who was complaining that everything, especially work, was too hard but she was going to ‘have it all’, but wasnt going to put in the slog to discover that perhaps she didnt need it and find something else along the way. She was just going to get the monetary rewards and someone else was going to pay for it. There seems to be a lack of humanity to me rather than a lack of feminism.
I think everything being “fed” to people via the media, is about relationships based on material, not actual companionship. I recently saw a commercial where the woman said “I really like him, but, when he gave me this,( she shows her friend a huge diamond ring) that sealed the deal.”
Since when is a stone mined by slaves and sold in a corrupt, controlled market a deal maker/breaker ? Why is society so concerned with material items that denote prosperity ? In the end will he or she be their to hold one’s hand in the final hours? That rock does not mean love. It’s just a bonus on a contract agreement. It’s sad to think the holidays have been reduced to “what I’m getting” instead of “what can I give?”
To me Feminism is about independence, not about manipulation, and control.
“Make him pay”…For what… I wonder ?
There are definitely lots of things to be tackled in the workplace. I have a couple of friends who are lawyers and they experience quite a lot of sexual discrimination on a regular basis. A friend in finance also says it’s hard to get ahead even though she is very highly qualified. Statements like the ones made at the bus stop make me wonder if we’ll end up going backwards. Even if they were being facetious, it still makes you do a double take. You make a very good point. I value your opinion on this because I suspect your industry is still a bit of a male bastion.
WOW. What a trailblazer your Mum was. That would have been an incredibly difficult thing to tackle back then. I bet you are proud of what she achieved. And the fact that she is remembered for her work is just brilliant. That’s the real face of feminism right there!
I am guilty of that too, but I agree it’s not really an anti-male thing. I think it’s just sharing experiences in a humorous way. Nat is so right – there are still many rivers to cross. The moronic elements don’t help!
How nice of you to visit. I am delighted you stopped by. Vapid is the perfect word to describe those girls. Sadly, they wouldn’t have a clue what it meant.
HER BAD MOTHER:
Lovely to hear from you too. I know what you mean. With women like that there is nothing to do but shake your head. Thanks for stopping by!
You’re absolutely right. I think a lot of younger women haven’t really thought about feminism because they have had a pretty good run in most aspects of their lives. Your point about age is a very valid one. I’d love to know what girls in their late teens think. That would be really interesting!
I have read that post of Faiqa’s. One day I will be as eloquent as she is. She is awesome!
Definitely. Although the word ‘goldigger’ might ring a bell with them. I appreciate you stopping by!
I agree with you. I don’t think the blame can be placed on men. I fear that some women themselves have chosen such a path. The primping bothers me a lot. It’s as if an entire generation is flailing about in a sea of insecurity. I’m all for a 60s revival. Something has definitely got to give. Thank you for visiting.
Oh my goodness! That makes me want to scream. They think feminism’s dead, and they have no idea that the Australian government has been working behind the scenes to strip women of their right to be in control of what is done to their own bodies; that women in Australia are WORSE off than they were twenty years ago. But they probably wouldn’t care anyway; the bling has blinded them.
Anyway there is a very vocal feminist movement that is very much alive and we’re not going away.
You are such a writer, listening in to those around you and soaking up for a story – essential characteristic needed (observation). They probably were putting on a show for the other folk on the bus. Maybe there was more to the story – maybe they’d just found out what one of the males had been up to and he ‘had to pay’. Exaggeration abounds in this age group.
Oh, absolutely. They are in for a rude shock at some stage. They’re just going to attract men who are as superficial as them. It’ll be a very large thud when they eventually come back down to earth. Nice to hear from you!
You always sum things up so well. There is an MTV thing going on, for sure. I think it has given these young women not only a false sense of entitlement but a lack of understanding regarding feminism itself. I pray they wake up to themselves before they end up with nothing but jewels and heartbreak.
I am so glad you dropped by. And a big thanks to whoever retweeted me. i am really glad your brothers have avoided women like that. That’s the thing, isn’t it? We worry about the men in our lives when it comes to women like these. They look good but there’s nothing underneath all the glamour. I couldn’t cope if my son ended up with a woman like that. Let’s hope it never happens.
I wondered why they were taking the bus too. It seems out of character. Obviously, they had no money at all if they couldn’t even afford a taxi. I pray they were just full of hot air. It would make me feel better.
I’m on the side of the “ignorant young folks who want to shock those around them” theorists.
Of course, the first thing that popped into my flippant little head was, “What assholes.” I might stick with that theory until I get more caffeine in me.
Blind materialism in people so young is worrying. Whatever happened to a guy sweeping you off your feet and you not caring if he had a cent or not because he was so cute? That’s what I loved about being young. Those girls are missing out on the good stuff….
I couldn’t agree more. The lack of humanity seems to be a trend these days. It is good to ‘want it all’ as it can be a great motivator, but making someone else pay for your wants is only going to end in tears. And as Lauri mentioned, what will be expected in return?
That’s the bit that scares me the most. Paying for what, indeed? It sounds like something you say when you have revenge in mind. Diamonds aren’t the be all and end all. They’re lovely if you can afford them, but they’re really not a true measure of anyone’s love. Give me a man who empties the dishwasher and folds the laundry over diamonds any day. That’s what love is all about!
We won’t go away. I really think they had no idea what they were talking about. Dare I say it, they probably needed to grow up.
You would not believe the stories I hear on the bus. It is an absolute goldmine. I would recommend regular travel on public transport for any writer. I suspect there was a touch of exaggeration going on, but then again, you just never know….
I think your first thought (not flippant at all, by the way) was on track. If the girls were members of the shock squad I am just glad they kept their sexual exploits to themselves. Can you imagine? Ewww.
🙂 You appear to have struck a nerve here, sweet potato! Lots of comments and strong, articulate opinions!
Yes, it is shocking from a feminism point of view, but also, as the mother of three sons, I find this whole “running down of boys” things completely demoralising. I’d hate anyone to say that of my sons.
I think the boot is on the other foot these days and in many ways boys have a harder time of it than girls. Perhaps not as adults but certainly as youngsters.
“it’s the make him pay bit with its sinister undertones that worries me.”
Yeah, that kind of thinking and attitude is jaw dropping. And I really didnt like the way they seem to be so entitled! Yikes. I cant STAND women like that. I really truly cant.
And, wait….Isn’t Christmas supposed to be about LOVE and FAMILY and TRADITION? I mean, gifts are nice, but NOT THE POINT!
I think some people think feminism has done what it needed to do and is therefore outdated (and then don’t see the continuing inequalities). I think others see feminism as ugly and strident and dismiss it (without seeing that sometimes you need to be outspoken and challenging to get your point across). Other people may see it as something that was ‘fashionable’ once and now no longer is.
In reality though we need feminism to help us to discover equality for everyone.
I think when you see the mass of women who are dressed exactly like you have described; when you see those MTV clips of women writhing in skimpy clothing and pouting with fingers put to their mouths, you could say most definitely that feminism is dead. Or that prostitution is hip?
BTW I was wanting to get in contact with you via email but cannot find your email address anywhere here on your blog. Any chance you could please send your email address to me at firstname.lastname@example.org – thank you.
It’s very cool. Seems like the sisterhood is alive and well. I love it!
I know a couple of 17 and 18 year old boys who are already feeling that kind of pressure with girls and it saddens me. They are buying their girlfriends these extravagant presents they can barely afford to prove their love. Where did that kind of thinking come from? It’s a worry.
That’s what I thought. Christmas is fruit punch with too much vodka in it, singing around the piano and being together. No one expects diamonds – unless Donald Trump is buying the presents. It’s just crazy!
What an utterly fantastic point. It is the only way we will achieve equality for all. Thank you so much for saying that!
You do wonder, don’t you? Everything seems to be topsy turvy in that department. I see young girls going to work in the city who look like they are going out clubbing. A friend of mine has a 22 year old daughter who is twenty grand in debt because she keeps buying designer clothes. She earns $35,000 per year. It’s madness.
I’ve emailed you 😀
My feelings reflected Meelah’s – I think these girls are selfish, inconsiderate, and I hope their boyfriends dump them and run – FAST.
No, feminism is NOT dead. But I am not a feminist myself. I think I’ve talked before about the difference between the suffragettes and the feminists, and I choose to associate myself with the former – most people think of both in terms of the latter. In that respect, I do agree with you, that equality in the workplace IS something that the younger generation is taking forgranted, even though I have yet to see TRUE equality. It either swings one way where the man still overpowers women, or the other – where the woman get the job, the promotion, just because she has a vagina instead of a penis. And I think BOTH are wrong. I dream for the day when it will be on merit alone. Well, a girl can dream, yes?
It takes generations to stomp out those old ideals… but it also take generations to be vigilant at it. These girls clearly show that selfcenteredness is still very much alive in our cultures….
I think that statement is based in ignorance. As you said, they haven’t a clue about how deeply impacted their reality is by the feminist movement. As far as the Christmas presents…well, reality will make it’s way into their head space sooner or later. Sheesh.
Miss you, Sel. xoxo
I suppose we’ll always be stuck with self-centredness in our society, but it does give you a bit of a shock when you see it up close. I agree with you completely about hoping things will be based on merit in the future rather than gender or the other monster that keeps rearing its ugly head – social position. It’s a long, hard road, but I’ll keep walking.
They really were a bit silly, weren’t they? Grow up girls, diamonds aren’t really a girl’s best friend, you know.
I miss you too, hon. Heaps and heaps XXXX
Can you believe that there are men who prefer women who expect expensive gifts?
I know. That astounds me. It’s just going to be nothing but trouble. Why, oh why do they do it???
“Our youth now love luxury. They have bad manners, contempt for authority; they show disrespect for their elders and love chatter in place of exercise; they no longer rise when elders enter the room; they contradict their parents, chatter before company; gobble up their food and tyrannize their teachers.”
— Socrates, 5th Century BC
I actually majored in Semiotics and Women’s Studies at Sydney University back in the ‘90s.
A lot of the women in the WS course took it because they thought it would be ‘easy marks’
Heh. It was filled with thick, juicy feminist theories -post-structural and post-modern, dealing with new theories of power, linguistics, re-readings of philosophy and psychoanalysis, deconstruction- no easy marks!
My WS classes were a mixture of young and mature-aged students. At the beginning of the course, any woman who made any sweeping statement about being a woman would be reminded by the other women in the class that her statement was based on her experience as a woman
of a certain age, race, ethnicity, class background. In other words, not all women are white and middle-class. There are differing and opposing feminisms – can they, somehow, be said to form one FEMINISM?
Soc. How fortunate I am, Meno! (I) … ask of you, What is the nature of the bee? and you answer that there are many kinds of bees, and I reply: But do bees differ as bees, because there are many and different kinds of them; or are they not rather to be distinguished by some other quality, as for example beauty, size, or shape? How would you answer me?
Men. I should answer that bees do not differ from one another, as bees.
Soc. And if I went on to say: That is what I desire to know, Meno; tell me what is the quality in which they do not differ, but are all alike;-would you be able to answer?
Meno By Plato
TIES THAT (UN)BIND: FEMINISM, SISTERHOOD AND OTHER FOREIGN RELATIONS – Oyeronke Oyewumi
As usual you have blown me away with your comment. It doesn’t surprise me at all that you majored in Women’s Studies. I know a few people who did the course while I was there and it was one tough course. You, of course, would have been able to handle it. I would love to hear about your experiences there. You should write a post about it.
It is amazing to me that even back in Socrates’ time this type of thing was going on. Will we humans ever change? Or learn?
Thanks for a truly enlightening comment !!