Thursday, 4 April 2013

Girls who run the world

In an interview for the May issue of British Vogue, Beyoncé Knowles described herself as a "modern-day feminist". This got me thinking about what the term ‘feminism’ means today and whether it is a positive or a negative thing. (As a disclaimer, this is not a deep, philosophical debate, just a few personal thoughts.)

For some women it is about being able to do all of the things men can do… and more. Whether that means doing the DIY, playing football, entering the political sphere or preaching in a church, it is about proving that the ‘weaker sex’ is actually no such thing.

For some people, feminism is almost militant stance, a championing of the ‘Independent Women’ and ‘Single Ladies’ against the rest of the world. It is the overcoming of prejudice and criticism of women as meek, powerless housewives, and raises the question: do women need men to get on in life?

Others think of feminism as a more collective idea. It’s about encouraging all women to achieve their potential regardless of their age, ethnic background and social outlook. It’s about equal rights for women and deals with issues such as voting, maternity leave, workplace equality and domestic violence.

For others it is about sexual liberty; the pursuit of bedroom equality. An environment where women can sleep with who they want, when they want without being referred to as sluts; to be able to live a Sex and the City lifestyle and read 50 Shades of Grey on the bus without criticism.

Whatever it means to you, feminists are often criticised because the concept is perceived as an anti-male stance. Some women do appear to act as though men are an inconvenient ‘other’ as they take on the world. Other women are seen to present a double standard because they want to dress in a super sexy way like Beyoncé or Rihanna without being treated like sex objects.

Head of Family Law at Slater & Gordon, Amanda McAlister has even blamed the Sex and the City lifestyle for an increase in alcoholism and, as a direct result, higher divorce rates.

Some argue that the stress of ‘doing it all’ – having a successful career, raising a family and living it up at the weekends – may be taking its toll on women. I know that for me personally, being a woman can be exhausting!

Beyoncé says in the interview that “we have a way to go” before women and men are considered equal, and I would tend to agree. Until women are paid the same amount as men for doing the same job, allowed to be part of church leadership teams, respected in sporting circles and treated as valuable human beings rather than sex objects, there is still work to be done.

Proverbs 31:10-31 gives us an interesting biblical perspective on the ‘virtuous’ wife: of a woman who is successful in the home and in business; who is respected by those around her and cares for the poor. I think this is a good model for all women.

Some of Beyoncé’s song lyrics may be a little questionable, but I’ll finish with some simple words I liked from the upcoming interview: “Why do you have to choose what type of woman you are? Why do you have to label yourself anything? I’m just a woman and I love being a woman.”

Read more from Joy in the upcoming issue of Liberti magazine.

(Photo credits: Image 1 Parkwood; Image 2 Claudio Mariotto; Image 3 Hollywood Branded.)

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