The Beauty Myth/ Gender Debate: what is gender in the 21stcentury.
Panel; Amelia Abraham, Palko Karasz, Elizabeth Pata, Naomi Wolfe (New York Times debate series)
Naomi Wolfe, wrote her defining feminist book in Edinburgh in 1990. She said that Scotland is a place that dreams of a better world, re-inventing itself into a better future.
The feminist Mystic. That images of beauty are used against women in a second wave. Unattainable beauty. What did she have to say for todays women? She saw the positives of social media – we are more critical and knowledgeable . Recently the Times Up and #Metoo movements.
They also discussed the Digital age: change and positives.
The Arab Spring, when young women at keyboards liberated women to have a voice and without the internet harder to organise. Find your community.
The Negatives were – the online harassment of female journalist and politicians. Threats to free speech and the means of controlling the population to whip up divisiveness.
Wolfe spoke of her latest book, OutRages. She said there used to be a wider version of masculinity, now men are all in black suits.
Unfortunately, although the debate had a 90 minute time slot – Elizabeth was confused over what 90 minutes meant, and the one and a half hour should have easily left 30 minutes for a fine debate and interesting feedback from the audience. I felt much of the panels chat was highly idealistic and theoretical. Elizabeth spoke of the language of gender
-Fashion and gender neutrality, so both boys and girls have broader choices.
Gender neutral toys – art, sport, play-do, Lego etc. rather than sparkly pink fluff and aggressive war toys. Sadly I was shocked to discover that it is much worse today than it was when my children were young in the 80s. I now shop for my grandson and I am horrified to find the toys and clothes are even more extreme!
-Encourage team sport for young girls much more.
-Paternity leave? My son took paternity leave last year and was surprised to find he was one of the very few men on paternity leave. Many women feel odd about it still, very strangely.
Why did the journalist Shona Craven raise a complex legal issue over gender, when she might have made a more important point over how she was personally affected by Wolfe’s Beauty Myth as a teenager, but now felt disillusioned over how things have progressed since then.