Feminist or "Postfeminists"?: Young Women's Attitudes toward Feminism and Gender Relations by Pamela Aronson, explores the post-feminist generation and attempts to address what is unique to the generation in comparison to the feminist generation with regard to self-identification, gender perception and experiences, opportunity view and race and class life experiences. Post-feminist is a term originally put forth by the media in the 1980’s to describe teenage and early adult females and has expanded, according to Aaronson, to include and describe women who have benefited from the women’s movement. Engaging the idea of previous work and research regarding feminism, Aronson points to the limiting aspects of considering feminism outside a wide scope of ideas and life realities. In doing this she engages the idea of intersectionality that we have previously considered and applied to other class topics.
This article points to the historical waves of feminism that have been characterized by periods of activism and then periods of limited political activity. In trying to understand the period of feminism that we are currently in, Aronson discussed a continuum of how women identify themselves as a standard to measure attitudes. This continuum ranges from women who identify as feminist, those who called themselves feminists with clarification and those who were not feminists but supported feminist issues. She discusses this continuum as a past measurement without the variation to be significant to post-feminists. This is important to the articles discussion of what feminism means to a post-feminist because Aronson discusses the limitations to this consideration without expanding the scope of the measurement of attitudes including the different social backgrounds.
Aronson conducted a longitudinal interview based study. Among other things, she found an optimism of women’s opportunities and an appreciation for older women’s struggle and a current observation of the obstacles that women face. She found that most of her study participants had not experienced major gender discrimination, were aware of the possibility that it could occur in the future and did not expect gender discrimination to affect them. Her study participants were almost all supportive of feminist issues and largely effected by race and class backgrounds. She concludes that many of her study participants fit on the continuum, but more than half had an ambiguous view of feminism. She further concludes that all of the things that she discusses, life experiences, race and class and exposure to women’s study classes all significantly contribute to an identification with feminism. She found a majority support for feminism and asserts a positive generational appreciation for the post-feminist group.
This article presented an opportunity to think about the relevance of intersectionality when applied to self identification and made me think about how my life experiences have shaped how i think and label my experiences as a woman. It also presented an opportunity to think about the intersectionality of generational experiences. My Mother was a stay at home Mom who considered herself (and still does) to be a feminist. Much of my self identification incorporates how she thought about herself when i was growing up.
How is how you identify with feminism similar or different from your Mother or a female member of your family?