When the website Role/Reboot asked if I would be interested in writing about what’s next for feminism in the coming decades, I was pointed to the New York Times Room For Debate topic: “Feminism’s Next Act.”
Six commenters addressed the question:
Fifty years after Betty Friedan’s “The Feminine Mystique” stirred women’s consciousness, where should the women’s movement go now?
The answers, according to the New York Times columnists, included:
- Confront the “Superwoman” ideal for managing home and family life.
- Paid leave for men and women.
- Create a more inclusive movement by changing how we talk about sexuality, race, and gender by confronting stereotypes.
- Put renewed focus on domestic violence.
- Enlist more men as allies in the feminist cause.
- Cultivate confidence at work to create more female leaders.
I also read several thought-provoking blog posts from the last week about the direction that feminism is taking. At Blue Milk, she argues that “work and family” balance are the most important next steps in contemporary feminism. She — as well as Annie at PhD in Parenting — quotes from Stephanie Coontz’s important New York Times piece arguing that the feminist movement needs to shift from a rhetoric about the rightness of each woman’s “personal choices” to a realization that structural and political reform are necessary before true equality can be reached.
Similarly, I also think that deep structural reform — paid leave policies, parental leave, subsidized day care and preschool — is critical before any kind of “work/family” balance can be achieved for American women. We are embarrassingly out of step with the rest of the civilized world.
Yet in my piece I also argue that women must also look inside their hearts and minds to the effects of their parenting style. In my view, your choice of parenting style can be both a political and personal issue. Our culture’s fixation with “intensive parenting” has emotional and career consequences for mothers, as well as societal consequences. Please take a look at my post and let me know what you think….
What do you think should be the most important issue for women and mothers today?