Pros and Cons of the Feminist Movement Knights in Shining Armour and Feminism

Days of Chivalry

The feminist movement began a lot earlier than most believe. There is no doubt it has been a liberating experience for women all over the world. With fifty years into the second wave of the movement and the classic catch phrase, ‘equality of the sexes’, now firmly entrenched in the English language, the question still remains. Has feminism helped or hindered the average female?

Remember when women were treated like royalty? Doors opened as if by magic. There wasn’t a woman alive in the western world who had to move her own chair before being seated -- because a gentleman was always within range to take care of that for her. When chivalry was alive and blooming there was no such thing as wet hair on a rainy day with a gentleman always ready with his trusty umbrella.

Giant Poster by Bill Gold

It was also a time when men went to work to ‘bring home the bacon’, while the women stayed home either pregnant or breastfeeding or somewhere in between with a lot of hungry mouths to feed and care for along with her husband. Women were caught up in the whirlwind of daily cleaning, washing, cooking and doing it all again the next day. Men had a job to do and left the home at an early hour so the lady of the house could get on with her daily chores.

The entire era was swept up in the concept of men knowing more and doing it better. Yes, it is hard to believe it was as little as fifty years ago that women didn’t speak of politics or have their own opinions on matters of the world other than what was happening in their own lives or maybe the next door neighbour’s kitchen.

Elizabeth Taylor Was Forgiven For Not Knowing Her Place

The all time movie classic Giant produced in 1956 with Rock Hudson and Elizabeth Taylor in the starring roles and James Dean as co-star. This is a wonderful example of life before the feminist movement. Rock Hudson plays a big time ranch owner from Texas and marries a socialite from the city, a woman with a mind of her own and not afraid to speak it.

Following an evening where the gentleman talk politics and the local women know their place and retire early, Rock confronts his wife telling her she has no business in men’s business.

“You knew who I was when you married me”. Elizabeth Taylor sprouts in her finest city voice. Rock Hudson responds with a dreamy look that says he knows when to back down.

Book Cover of The Female Eunuch

Enter the Female Eunuch

In Australia Germaine Greer led the movement with her now classic work ‘The Female Eunuch’. It was the end of the sixties and women all over the world were ready for the second wave of feminism. Germaine delivered.

Women burned their bras and stampeded the workforce demanding equal pay for equal work. The biggest tragedy of this was the home life that didn’t change. There were still mouths to feed, clothes to wash and houses to look after and so began the era of the superwoman.

If it is to be assumed that most women are not happy digging in the dirt or breaking rocks where has the movement led her? Granted there are the exceptions. Women who have now made their way in what was traditionally considered a man’s world. Female carpenters, accountants and taxi drivers no longer shock the public.

Do women want a man to step in where needed to change a light bulb or fix a broken power circuit? Have the men been criticised once too often so now they are either too scared or can’t be bothered to give a woman that special treatment?

Society has probably moved closer to a happier median in the past ten or twenty years with shared responsibilities in the home so women can now pursue professional development options as well as juggling work and home life. But is either gender happy with the way the feminist movement changed history?

Let's hear what you have to say!

Copyright © 2010-2011 Karen Wilton

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Comments 17 comments

Rafini profile image

Rafini 6 years ago from Somewhere I can't get away from

Interesting topic, and one I believe will never be brought to a conclusion as every woman has a different idea of what they want out of an equality that doesn't exist. I expect equal pay for equal work but companies have found a way to block it by firing anyone who reveals their pay to coworkers. I am capable of opening my own doors & seating myself yet I can still appreciate a mans protection when it is warranted. For me, Womens Rights has brought confusion.

Karanda profile image

Karanda 6 years ago from Australia Author

For sure Rafini, it is a confusing time for men and women. While the principles of feminism have given many women opportunities not previously available there still seems to be a long way to go before true equality is the norm.

James A Watkins profile image

James A Watkins 6 years ago from Chicago

This is a fine article, and thought-provoking too. Thank you for a good read.

Karanda profile image

Karanda 6 years ago from Australia Author

Your welcome James and thank you for your comment.

treasures306 6 years ago

Makes both men and women think about life today. Thanks for the article.

Karanda profile image

Karanda 6 years ago from Australia Author

Thanks for stopping by Treasure, the feminist movement has changed much in the western world and not necessarily all for the better but I'd struggle going back to the ways of the early twentieth century.

susanlang profile image

susanlang 6 years ago

Good story...but I must say I think men still rule..sadly!

Karanda profile image

Karanda 6 years ago from Australia Author

Thank you for your feedback Susan. I agree that it seems men still have the upper hand in so many areas. Women may have come a long way, but it seems there is a long way to go.

attemptedhumour profile image

attemptedhumour 6 years ago from Australia

My wife is desperately searching for a part time, rather than her current full time job. She's been superwoman for too many years and i'm too old to be superman. She's finding it hard to find that elusive part timer as ten million other feminists are in the queue for a life they will actually have time to live. Getting the balance right is the thing and men still get the better deal. Got to go, have to make wife cup of tea. That won't fix it but it's a start.

Karanda profile image

Karanda 6 years ago from Australia Author

Fancy that, a man agreeing that men still get the better deal! And how great to see you are attempting to get the balance right, one small step at a time. I applaud you, attemptedhumour.

attemptedhumour profile image

attemptedhumour 6 years ago from Australia

She cooks, i eat. She cleans, my mess. I drive, her mad. Only joking, my wife's nickname is speedy and boy can she move, doing twenty things simultaneously. We need a ball and chain to slow her down which wouldn't be in the feminist's manual, would it? We just bought a weekender one and a half hours out of Melbourne where she will have to slow down, in theory. We're in the Aussie bush surrounded by wildlife it's so quiet and relaxing. Must dash. Cheers

Karanda profile image

Karanda 6 years ago from Australia Author

I do hope that weekender has running water and electricity - I'd hate to think of speedy bucketing water from the creek and chopping wood to light the oven.

Christine 6 years ago

Karanda, I'm suitably impressed with your article. However, is it just me or is the "Filipina Beauty" ad on the same page as your article totally out of line?

Karanda profile image

Karanda 6 years ago from Australia Author

Sorry about the advertising Christine, still working out how to manage my hubs so certain ads don't appear, I guess that would be one of them. Thanks for stopping by and thank you for the comment.

salt profile image

salt 6 years ago from australia

thanks, having done my womens studies units, I felt a little confronted at times by some of the feminist views. I think I ascribe to the school of differences. I value women and womens rights and women who have stood up for us. Women who have stood on the picket lines for equal pay and voting rights. Women who have really stood up for women and walked the long walk. These women I thank. I see a generation now that has it easier.

I think womens history is interesting. Whilst some men worked in the mines or on projects like the snowy mountain scheme, their women, with them, living out of tents, cooked and cleaned and looked after any early family. Their stories often go untold, whilst the mens adventures are.

Karanda profile image

Karanda 6 years ago from Australia Author

Yes, I agree Salt. Women's history is not only interesting but forms a large part of how we got to where we are today. There still seems to be a lot of imbalance, especially in the corporate world but given that Australia has a female prime minister, governor general and two state premiers, it would seem to suggest that the women's movement is alive and well.

Being a feminist does not necessarily mean giving up one's femininity and perhaps that is where the issue became so confused.

limpet profile image

limpet 2 years ago from London England

Academian and social commentator Germaine Greer has recently asserted in her weekly column of a daily tabloid that there is still much left to do on the Women's cause. Professor Greer has seemed to have mellowed some what in the four decades of activism. Ms Greer is currently revising a lot of her feminist philosophy.

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