Feminism. Does the word have any meaning in 2011? Or, at least a meaning all women can agree on? Has it become the "F Word"? Tainted and stained with connotations that alienate some women and men. Or is it simply irrelevant in the 21st Century?
To mark the 100th anniversary of International Women's Day (March 8, 2011), Doc Zone dares to utter the "F Word".
Today, more than half of all North American University students are women, make up half the work force and have more choices than ever. So, why are women still marching? What more do feminists want? Don't women have it all?
Not if you look at the stats. According to the UN, women make up 53% of the world's population, but they own only 1% of the world's wealth. Women hold up half the sky, but in Canada they are only holding 11% of the seats on corporate boards and 21% of the seats in Parliament. In the workplace, women hold half the jobs, but are taking home 20% less pay then men. So what happened? Wasn't Feminism supposed to fix this?
The F Word attempts to answer these questions by examining the trajectory of the First, Second and Third Waves of Feminism and their effects in the 20th century, and then investigating what Feminism – the word and the movement - means today and might mean tomorrow.
In The F Word, the story of Feminism is told through Feminist icons and experts including:
"…if we're going to liberate women we have to preserve their difference, otherwise we'll liberate them the way we liberated Vietnamese villages -- by destroying them."
- Germaine Greer
Germaine Greer – famous feminist provocateur. Author of The Female Eunuch, the groundbreaking 1970 clarion call to women of all ages to examine their lives and demand more. Greer has remained active in feminist issues and the recent 40th anniversary of the publication of her book has occasioned a flurry of both support and contention.
"It's fun and it's playful, but it doesn't have anything to do with claiming your rights to be a full citizen in the world. If it did, men would be wearing Manolo Blahniks tomorrow."
– Susan Faludi on High Heels and Empowerment
Susan Faludi – author of Backlash: the Undeclared War Against American Women. Faludi is a Pulitzer Prize winning journalist whose recent piece in Harper's about matricide in the feminist movement has caused a stir. She feels that each wave of feminism has been met with an equal wave of resistance attempting to get women back in the home.
"…the world is getting smaller and we know what women in the developing world are facing -- and they're still organizing…We have NO excuse for not taking care of our own business."
Naomi Wolf – author of The Beauty Myth and media commentator on women's issues. Naomi Wolf insists that, even though women have been seduced by the media and consumerism, they have enough tools today to complete the task of claiming equality.
"There wasn't sort of a symbolic meeting that took place in, you know, 1961 where we said, "Okay, here's our 10 list of demands and we're going to spend the next 40 years conquering them one through 10."
- Amy Richards
Amy Richards – author of FeministA: Young Women, Feminism and the Future, founder of Third Wave Foundation and Feminist.com. Amy says she was a feminist 'in utero' – the daughter of a single mother and life long feminist. For Amy, there is much work to be done and what will make change is not numbers, but changing the actual space in which we all work and live.
"I think that there is a strong emotional attachment on the part of power-holders in the government for a sort of "Dad's running everything. Mom is in the home and the kids are very happy, thank you," kind of country."
Professor Kathleen Lahey – Professor of Law and Gender Studies, Queen's University. Professor Lahey provided research and was a spokesperson for the recent report, Reality Check: Women in Canada and the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action Fifteen Years On. Lahey believes that Canada's current government has systematically undermined the foundations that support continued work on women's issues.
"…they want to spend time with their babies and they want to advance a career. Well, my answer to that is that you can't have everything. You're not going to be able to win a Nobel Prize on flex time, it's just not going to happen."
- Christina Hoff Sommers
Christina Hoff Sommers – Sommers is a resident scholar at the conservative American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy and Research. Sommers is best known for her critique of late-twentieth-century feminism: Who Stole Feminism: How Women Have Betrayed Women and The War Against Boys. Sommers is an ardent opponent of those she calls "professional feminists'. She recently spoke out against the Paycheck Fairness Act in the US, claiming that there is no such thing as a wage gap between men and women.
"…if I hear one more person say that they think that young women today don't care about feminism, I'm gonna scream."
Jessica Yee – is the founder and Executive Director of the Native Youth Sexual Health Network and works with native youth across North America. She doesn't believe in the waves but she sure believes that there is unfinished business.
From the makers of the funny and provocative documentaries Flatly Stacked and Stacked Like Me (about breasts big and small) comes The F-Word: Who Wants to be A Feminist, a timely and highly entertaining examination of one of the most significant social movements in human history.
The F Word: Who Wants To Be a Feminist?, is directed by Michael McNamara and produced by Judy Holm for Markham Street Films.