By Lionel Bopage –
Today is the International Women’s Day. It is 41 years since this day came out as a result of an event the Socialist Party of America organized. The Feminists have been mostly focused on balancing the gender numbers, getting women to important positions in the political and bureaucratic hierarchy. There has been some success. For example, the proportion of women in workforce has substantially increased and comprise about 46 percent of the Australian workforce. Women hold about 40 percent of the senior executive positions in the Australian Public Service. About 39 percent government board positions are held by women. Despite achieving formal legal equality, and some success in the numbers game, women have not been so far able to put a stop to the misogynistic approaches prevailing in male chauvinistic environments.
A struggle that commenced as part and parcel of the struggle for social justice and equality simply became inwardly focused. It became a gender power game of getting numbers and positions rather than driving an agenda for social justice that was inclusive of an entire gamut of fellow sufferers. In the numbers and positions game there has been some success. There have been several women Prime Ministers, a number of Ministers and many Members of Parliament. However, it appears those who have been in the women’s numbers and positions game, have also become entrenched and trapped in the world views of the ‘male dominated’ political world. Many of they appear to have become part and parcel of the oppressive system of governance. Those who have not succumbed to these neo-liberalist, self-focused, market-driven trap are those enlightened women, who still consider themselves belonging to the layers subjected to oppression.
Demand for gender equality against macho-culture was so self-centred that they almost excluded wider social equity issues affecting the workers, farmers, students, migrants, NESB, LGBT people etc. How can one forget that the very same women who fought for gender equity were the ones who supported incarceration of asylum seekers and their children off-shore? They simplistically equated social progress with gender equality, which was exactly what macho-dominated, neo-liberal oriented, market-driven forces focused on saving the unjust and unfair system of privileges and interests wanted. The women in powerful political and bureaucratic positions have become mirror images of their male counterparts. How many of those women in positions of power and influence are willing or committed to changing the status quo, or implement any social and cultural changes? Problematic, isn’t it?
What a devaluation of the struggle that came out as a result of the work of the likes of Clara Zetkin, Rosa Luxemburg, Alexandra Kollontai, and Eleanor Marx.? These glorious women had the vision to distinguish between the causes that they have been fighting for from those of the “middle-class women” of their days. Anyone fighting for justice and fair-go today need to be aware of the machinations of neo-liberalism, market competition that drive individualism against collectivism. Collectivism has been the foundation of almost all successes achieved from eight hour working day to equality of treatment. How serious is the modern day feminist movement willing to collectively fight for abolishing existing systems and austerity measures that reinforce the existing socio-economic and political inequities in society?
A song on Women’s Liberation composed and sung in Sinhala in the late 1970s is available here.
dickie bird / March 8, 2016
No… Re think the Convent agenda.
Amarasiri / March 9, 2016
Dr. Lionel Bopage
RE: It’s Time To Rethink The Feminist Agenda!
1. “Today is the International Women’s Day. It is 41 years since this day came out as a result of an event the Socialist Party of America organized. “
So, it was not organized by any of the organized religions. Perhaps they were preoccupied by getting women to Heaven or Nirvana, or Nibbana.
2. “Despite achieving formal legal equality, and some success in the numbers game, women have not been so far able to put a stop to the misogynistic approaches prevailing in male chauvinistic environments.”
Was it male dominated organized religion?
3. “How serious is the modern day feminist movement willing to collectively fight for abolishing existing systems and austerity measures that reinforce the existing socio-economic and political inequities in society?”
They all are overshadowed by religious beliefs. One needs to get religion to go along with it.
Jim softy / March 9, 2016
In the west, where Feminism began, now it has died down. For me, true feminists are the ones who know that they are women, and what they exactly want.
Other feminists are those who don’t like men because they had bad experiences when their parents marriage broke down or they are simply lesbians.
Jim softy / March 9, 2016
What I see in the photo is not feminism. “Is is women’s awakening.
Men can not treat women like thrash.
For men, they don’t think that their grand mother, mother, sisters, daughters are too women.
Treat the wife and sometimes the other women like objects.
those men are simply thrash.
Vanguard / March 9, 2016
50% from National List for Parliament.
Dr.Rajasingham Narendran / March 9, 2016
Should we take a gender-neutral approach? The best qualified should be accomodated, regardless of gender, ethnicity, religion or caste. Women are dominating in many fields, especially higher education. There can be more women in the police and armed forces. If they are motivated, qualified and confident every field of employment should be open to them.
However, they should understand though they are equal in every human right and endeavor, they are yet biologically female and have a complementary role in reproduction and family life. A male cannot be female and a female a male. Biologically, we have different anatomies, physiology and functions. Even our instincts,behavior and muscle mass are dictated by male and female hormones. We can be trained to control our instincts and behavior, but they cannot be totally subdued without disturbing the reproductive function. There is much confusion about this among females today.
Dorothy / March 10, 2016
there is no need for a woman to subdue her Womanly instinct due to her unique hormones .She has a evolved a role of being a carer a mother and a anchor for her family to come home to ..What the the need agenda for women to spear head the Feminist program ?Was it the use of the femaleto be minders carers but playing down her role and maternal instinct fundamental to the life and progress of the society to a mere handi mita IQ …Umpteenth chores carried out at home was underwritten by sexist terminology of the everyday language .The days when it was considered its a mans right to use the monetary wages for a drink with the boys or dragging on cigarette they failed to value the sacrifice the wife and a mother made to forgo the much needed money for her daily budget .Innumerable anolagies can be put forward on this so called women are seen and not heard theme ..yet even today a woman is judged by her work outside her home as a professional not the menial . , I think we should start from the home ..not in a patronizing manner but evaluate the significance. May be sometimes where encourage her to stay at home and not leave family and home and reach for work in far away places . missing out on the kids and the wonderful world of them growing up and reaching for a mothers love .. missing out on community life of he micro world that may need her wisdom which was passed down the generations and which she alone had time to listen like our Grand mothers did . I was told my Grand mother married at 16 and widowed in her 30s yet managed her family by not alienating her family and knew how to draw strength form her extended family I admired her strength of character …Most of us want the society to respect and value our strength and our resilience in the changing world ..we all need not rush out of our homes to work out there . but well bringing home the bacon even if its full of sodium is a fact of life today .
anotherbuddist / March 10, 2016
Socialist Party of America organized the first National Women’s Day in New York in 1909 to commemorate the 1908 strike of the International Ladies’ Garment Workers’ Union. International Women’s Day no longer gives much focus to the workers struggles / working class women, and it is largely a celebration of the achievements of middle class women, especially in the West. The author reflects this in his article, intentionally / unintentionally, just as much as the author’s abandonment of his own roots in workers struggles.