Feminism: It's All About Me!

Want to know what today's chic young feminist thinkers care about? Their bodies! Themselves!

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And that brings up another reason why the flightiness of contemporary feminism is a problem. Some would argue that if the women's movement were still useful, it would have something to say; it's dead because it has won. Some wags have coined a phrase for this: Duh Feminism. But there's nothing obvious about the movement's achievements. It's true that we now have a woman crafting America's foreign policy (Madeleine Albright), that a woman is deciding which Barbie dolls to produce (Jill Barad, CEO of Mattel) and that a woman (Catharine MacKinnon) pioneered the field of sexual-harassment law (which is turning into real dollars for real women, as Mitsubishi Motors evidenced two weeks ago with its record $34 million payment to women on the assembly line). It's also true that women are joining together for their own, big-draw rock tours and that we now have "girl power," that sassy, don't-mess-with-me adolescent spirit that Madison Avenue carefully caters to. So yes, the women's movement changed our individual lives and expectations, and young women today acknowledge this. A hefty 50% of those from ages 18 to 34 told the pollsters in the TIME/CNN survey that they share "feminist" values, by which they generally mean they want a world in which they can choose to be anything--the President or a mother, or both.

But that doesn't mean that American society is supporting them much in their choices, and this is where the pseudo-feminists of today could be of help. The average female worker in America still earns just 76[cents] for every dollar a man earns, up 17[cents] from the '70s but still no cause for rejoicing. And for most women, the glass ceiling is as impenetrable as ever. There are only two female CEOs at FORTUNE 500 companies, and just 10% of corporate officers are women. Day care, a top priority for both middle-class women and less fortunate mothers maneuvering through welfare reform, still seems a marginal issue to feminist leaders. Under the heading Key Issues on the website of the National Organization for Women, day care isn't even mentioned.

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