Forty years ago, demands for greater equity and justice for women too often fell on deaf ears, not just those of men, but the majority of women, too, certainly in the western world. The women’s liberation movement as it was labelled aimed to ‘free’ women from the shackles of stereotypes that shaped women’s destiny as the ‘second’ sex. Sadly in those days, it was a movement of mainly middle-class, educated women who could afford the preoccupation of conversational exchange and literary indulgence to advance their cause. It was not a populist movement for a myriad of complex reasons. I have penned many blogs about women’s rights and their quest for equality over the past seven years; some of which try to highlight the unhelpful dialogue that insists on a patriarchal conspiracy for the ‘glacial’ pace of change for women in our world.
Repeating myself ad nauseum, I continue to point out this dialogue is too often misguided and mistaken in its misogyny message as it misses the reality that a majority of women must want to affect genuine change. This blog is not about that as I’ve written enough; indeed, what I’ve realised is that over the past few years the focus in our mainstream media, politics and society generally has now sharpened to create concern and conversation to really implement change to enhance female opportunities across the socio-economic spectrum.
It seems that for older women such as myself and a few younger women too, the awareness of women’s inequalities has been acknowledged and addressed most of their lives but it seems now that what was once a minority of women clamouring for change and greater choices in their life has become more of a mass movement embraced not just by a few middle-class, educated women but increasing numbers of women from all walks of life and all ages. Moreover, more and more men are supportive of their quest.
This new social awareness is positive as it engenders the potential to include women wherever they want. That’s not to say that sexist attitudes and behaviours aren’t still extant in society but what’s happening now is these attitudes and behaviours are being exposed as demeaning, exploitative and essentially, unrealistic and abusive. Four decades ago when I voiced this perspective about women towards each other as much as men towards women and women towards men I felt like “a lone voice in the wilderness” whereas now it’s reputable and responsible organisations and authorities such as parliament, banks, the police and education experts among others collectively recognising latent discrimination and making what was once a conspiracy of silence about women’s role in our world a loud and vociferous political perspective. The dialogue is now open for so much more to change.
My blogs reflect what I think needs to be examined, explored and exposed, too, but the reality in my lifetime is that over the past decade or so there is the beginning of a new understanding and agenda for women if they want it. There is still a long way to go but over more than four decades awareness has greatly increased and now that awareness must translate into effective and actual change in our thinking for millions of women and men. It must be incorporated into our institutions and social structures so that people can be ‘free’ to live in their individual best interest, be they male or female. It is ultimately about jettisoning traditional stereotypes and replacing them with a personal and particular philosophy about people that embodies individuality and choice, gender irrelevant. I won’t live long enough to see a society where that is a pervasive premise but it is reassuring that in 2016 times really are a ‘changing’.