New Feminism

Charlotte Raven's article in Saturday's Guardian Review over here. I'm not confident stepping in, knowing as little as I do (I have already offended once). Still, it made me think. Here are some thoughts:

The attack is on 'Madonna-ised' modern woman, who is 'disassociated from pain and victimhood', and who buys into the 'myth of self-invention', who strives to constantly achieve greater things, who is confident, promiscuous, successful. The Sex and the City ideal is probably the easiest way to think about it.

The impact of this construct of femininity on conceptions of porn and prostitution was convincing. Onlookers are persuaded to see sex workers as having chosen their careers, and that there is minimal physical and psychological danger to such work. I used to think that, I'm embarrassed enough to admit. But even a very shallow reading around the subject was enough to dismiss such fantasies pretty quick. For most sex workers, choice barely comes into it.

My problem with the article is the proposition that 'liberated woman' is an oppressive construct. See the difficulty? How can you tell who is liberated and who is not? If women have the freedom to choose, and they choose the Sex and the City lifestyle, are they oppressed? Are they necessarily unfulfilled or unhappy? And the flip-side to the argument: Raven laments the fact that women, bombarded with the Sex and the City feminine mystique, are no longer 'free to choose normality'. Are they not? If modern woman, more than ever before, believes herself free to invent and re-invent herself, will they always go for the same 'self'? Don't we have quite a few cultural constructs of femininity floating around, from which women can pick and choose?

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