Pondering over what I should write about, it came to my mind something which I’ve been mulling over for a long time. And I asked myself, What ever happened to the old feminist movement? I don’t talk about Women’s Studies Departments, which work hard within academia. I’m more concerned with the movements in the public sphere, here in the U. S. and in countries where the discrepancies between genders are even more acute and the conditions of women have only better in as much as women have worked hard to change them.
Certainly, the states have not and are not always providing conditions to help women improve. On the contrary, with the economic crisis of the neoliberal economy the outcome for women is tragic, as they become—once again, the only source of food, love, and strength for many to survive and move on; this time in worst conditions, though. They are faced with the double burden of working—as they are favor these days in the sweat shops for the low wages they are paid, and in the cases where there is no husband–the only one to care for the children. And it’s harder every step of the way. Many are dying in the process. We just need to read any recent study on women’s condition around the world to see that. Let’s remember that women’s rights around the world are an important indicator of the well-being of the planet.
Women have not been passive bystanders of the crisis. Some of the gains of women after several decades of intense work have been their increased visibility in the public arena as members of the labor force and spokes persons within their communities; their life expectancy went up by nine years in areas absent of war, occupation, and lack of medical attention; fertility rates have decreased in areas of highly educated women and/or women on middle class committed to change; levels of schooling went up and illiteracy went down also in areas of richer, and more openly democratic and egalitarian governments.
In most Latin American countries, however, most women still work primarily within the informal sector, do not receive equal pay for equal jobs, do not have much legal representation, and have a very small presence and influence in state policies and decisions. They receive less than half of the profits national and/or private even if they work harder than their male counterparts; last but not least, their personal lives are still entangled with the responsibility of raising children and maintaining certain functional order in the home.
It seems that this postmodern condition we are in does not allow people to join one single specific movement as we are surrounded by a myriad of cultural practices, creeds and ideas that speak to the idea of “each one of us sees the world differently—no consensus!” Each movement only consents a partial, biased knowledge of reality. Moreover, the notion of circularity and indeterminacy carried over by the critique of language within postmodern theory is implicit in the actual lives of people. The fast pace at which many people live today and the millions of things available to “capture” life differently, do not seem to leave room for a serious understanding of reality, much less for a commitment to change it. The new motto seems to be ‘everyone for him or herself.’
All of these seem to leave women’s movements with no much to do to attain some of their liberating goals. To imagine that women will reach a relatively unified, worldwide and comprehensive movement that fights for most women’s rights is almost impossible. Small fights that will lead to small gains will continue to work for them, I am sure. Strategically, they should unite with the only other two big movements that can reach international and universal appeal: the fight for human rights and for environmental issues.
Language and discursive practices have helped women create consensus around their political actions. Perhaps is in the words of women and in the power of their dialogue that we may create an answer. We need to continue talking and working with the cooperative power that characterizes us. Redefining symbolic power—along with structures and practices, as if reconstituting the subject hood of female individuals, and with that the notion that the feminine is absence, lack of power, silence. So as to show that we don’t want to be the dominating force but the guiding one, and without minding that something that once was a driving force—thus becoming a maxim, it’s perhaps today just a drop that if merging in with the strength of millions more can get to be the waterfall that washes away the nonsense of ignoring the need of a feminine side to the human kind and with it, its survival.
(*)Minim: A unit of fluid measure equal to one sixtieth of a fluid dram, 0.0616 milliliters, or approximately one drop.
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