We often hear that feminism today is largely outdated. The equality of the sexes is supposedly a conquered cause that occupied the previous generations. Back then, many things were “conservative and regressive”, while today they have definitively changed and progressed.
This opinion is also shared by a portion of younger women, who distanced themselves from the women of the previous generation, who through their actions brought about significant changes in the position of women in society.
The truth is that the legalization of gender equality is not always ensured in practice, it is certainly incomplete and often violated.
Particularly in the current phase of the crisis in Greece and the prevalence of neoliberalism throughout Europe, other imperatives of the system require the manipulation of women and their exploitation in multiple ways.
This has led to the retreat of even the institutionally protected achievements of their struggles.
Gender inequalities, discrimination, inequality of opportunities, lack of access, exclusions, and deprivation of public resources and goods (not only material but also intangible, such as time, knowledge, information, networks, recognition, etc.) remain the hard fact for women, in all areas of economic, social, political and cultural life.
Even after achieving a high – higher than men – level of education, women still occupy the most poorly paid, precarious, and least recognized jobs.
They are paid lower wages than men doing the same job (wage gap). They are concentrated in branches and professions without the possibility of development (glass ceiling).
They feel ambivalent about their professional career (family/motherhood or career). They face multiple difficulties in order to join and remain in the labor market.
They are often the first to be fired or work without employment rights. They have lower bargaining power due to their low degree of unionization.
They must achieve a lot more things than their colleagues to be recognized in every field: science, profession, politics, and the social roles they undertake. In addition, they work twice, at work and at home, that is, they have shouldered the entire sphere of reproduction of the capitalist system, providing care services and covering the huge gaps of the welfare state.
Gender-based violence – a central issue of the feminist agenda – continues to demonstrate in the most immediate way men’s dominance and power over women and girls in many different ways: physical, verbal, psychological, and financial violence.
Men who come from the entire spectrum of social geography in terms of class, educational and cultural level, and also ideology.
Legislation of equality is apparently not sufficient to ensure the equal representation and participation of women in public affairs, and in occupying positions of responsibility in public life.
It does not protect them, even those few who have succeeded, from pervasive sexism in institutions and public discourse, the depictions, and representations of the media, and the dominant media discourse, which reproduces sexist discourse and stereotypes.
Women are sidelined and marginalized by male-dominated practices in the public sphere, in political parties, trade unions, decision-making bodies, and even, perhaps less obviously, in the most radical and intellectual segments of society.
The quota measure, which partly attempts to correct time-based and entrenched exclusionary practices, to function supportively, and above all to educate in the long term in egalitarian attitudes and practices, is not respected and is undermined even when it is adopted declaratively.
In practice, we find that the quota measure has been largely discredited and has become the object of ideological use for alleged “protectionism”, which capable and willing women do not need, as they want, and can conquer their position without such measures.
This attitude, however, is destroyed when we look at the data (how many women, in which positions, and with what purpose), which leaves no doubt that even in the left parties competent and committed women are not elected to the governing bodies, the representative institutions, and the government.
The view, which ignores and undervalues the importance of feminist elaborations and positions on gender power relations, and which it treats as secondary or marginal to the dominant class opposition, and that social discrimination against women will be resolved from the abolition of capitalism to a socialist perspective of the deep future, has now been marginalized.
On the other hand, the parallel effort of subordination of feminist claims under the umbrella of rights in general often removes the impact force of feminist criticism on gender hierarchies and their reproduction system and raises questions about the constitution of the political subject of social subversion.
However, the critical and inclusive approach that understands gender discrimination as a field that synthesizes many individual social oppositions: gender, class, race, identity, etc., is increasingly becoming hegemonic, and only as such can it be treated today as a field of political and ideological conflict.
Critique that seeks a mobilizing presence, through various initiatives, that creatively converse with what is called past and present waves of feminism. A kinetic dynamism that interacts with and is reinforced by the emergence of new social groups and political subjects, such as the refugees and the dynamic LGBTQ+ community.
For all the above reasons we are feminists today and every day, until we see the vision of a society without hierarchies and gender discrimination become part of the cognitive, value, and mental universe of people (men and women) in our societies.