The responses to the interview questions may not represent the views of The Echo Boom Bomb's author. These interviews are provided to inform readers of information from experts and provide these experts with a medium where they can answer questions without any content changes. You can also read other interviews at this link. All media in articles, unless otherwise stated, was added by Tim Smith.
Feminism, Millennial Women and the Other Side
A few months ago, I interviewed Suzanne Venker on feminism's effects on Millennial women. Suzanne presented a challenge to some feminist notions, and I wanted to interview someone with a different perspective. After reading a Forbes article by Julie Zeilinger, I contacted her to discuss challenges that Millennial women face and how feminism can address these modern concerns.
Who Is Julie Zeilinger?
Brief Bio (taken from About Julie):
Julie founded the blog fbomb, a site for young feminists, and wrote the book A Little F’d Up: Why Feminism is Not a Dirty Word, which was released this year in May. She is currently an undergraduate student at Barnard College and has been named as one of the most influential bloggers under the age of 21 by Women's Day magazine.
You can find her on Twitter.
So, Just Had To Ask ... (Interview)
1. In your article on Forbes, you state that Millennial women face a different form of discrimination than women in the past. What are these new forms of discrimination that Millennial women primarily face?
I believe that generally the type of discrimination Millennial women face tends to be more subtle than in years past. While our foremothers were raised in a culture that generally accepted women’s inferiority to men as fact, the feminist movement has made incredible progress. Today women do have access to education and are largely able to enter the same careers as men (although men still dominate many fields and do still earn more than us on average). I believe that while the feminist movement largely accomplished legal equality, we have yet to achieve cultural equality. Women are still seen as imperfect and are largely objectified in a way that men simply are not. One really pervasive example is street/sexual harassment – so many young women face street harassment on a regular basis. And yet as we are blatantly objectified and disrespected by men, we are told that we have achieved gender equality.
Of course, there’s a huge caveat to this in terms of the fact that there are of course still women who face serious and even life-threatening forms of discrimination in the U.S. as well as abroad. Women’s experiences with discrimination are largely impacted by socioeconomic factors like race, class, sexual orientation (etc) and it’s really impossible to generalize the experience of all women in this day and age because it truly does vary vastly. My thoughts above and those that I wrote about in Forbes are based on my experience and observations as an admittedly privileged young woman.
2. How do you think that these issues can be addressed? And who/what should address these?
SlutWalk protesters in Canada.
I believe that the feminist movement is still working hard in this day and age to address these issues. I think that we’ve made great strides through online-based campaigns – petitions on Change.org and other similar sites, Twitter campaigns targeting sexist figures, etc as well as on-the-streets style activism (like SlutWalk). But I really believe that these issues need to be addressed via education. Young women (and young men, for that matter) are barely taught about the feminist movement or about the social issues the feminist movement addresses in school. I think schools across the country need to incorporate these issues into their curriculum. I think it’s just as important for students to be educated about pervasive issues that exist today as it is to be educated about U.S. history and algebra.
3. One criticism that could be made against your argument is that Millennial women are performing better than Millennial men - in terms of career and education, and thus will do better in leadership over the course of their lives. How would you respond to critics that state this?
I think we need to separate statistics like those that show women are the majority of undergrads in this country from the concept of women and leadership – they are not one in the same. I can’t speak from my own experience because, after all, I am still an undergrad but from what I understand once women do enter the workforce they face roadblocks based on their gender that simply don’t exist in the same way for men. For example, women aren’t able to progress in their careers once they start families in the same way men are (hence the recent “having it all” debate). The U.S. is seriously lagging behind in policies that would help women ascend to leadership and have a family – for example, the U.S. is one of three countries that doesn’t have legally enforced paid maternity leave (the other two countries are Papau New Guinea and Swaziland, for the record) and most companies don’t offer family friendly policies like flex hours. Despite our increased presence in the work place, women still are burdened with most unpaid domestic duties. So, while women may be able to enter the workplace we deal with a number of other duties and responsibilities that hold us back from ascending to leadership positions. Basically we have to separate our legal abilities and even our presence in certain careers and educational institutions from leadership. Also, I think that, again, the argument that millennial women are performing “better” than millennial men varies depending on certain socio-economic factors.