The authors certainly think so, and after reading them, it's hard to disagree - albeit for totally different reasons.
Ok, that's an overstatement. And speaking of overstatement, I'm just going to let these two gems speak for themselves, because it's pretty clear that no amount of arguing or reasoned rhetoric is going to make a jot of difference. The first comes, not shockingly, from The Daily Mail. "How Germaine Greer's legacy is an entire generation of loose-knickered lady louts."
Older generations would call these women 'slappers' - and they would be right. Before the night is out, some of them will be bending over a storm drain, puking, weeping, wailing 'e don't love me!' before passing out under some sulphurous street lamp...Emmeline Pankhurst would be horrified, but this is where the remorseless quest for rights has taken the fairer sex. It has overshot liberty and landed in a sweaty jungle where women are equal to men in squalor and excess.
What follows is the usual litany of social hand-wringing and right-wing sermonzing, twinned with a Hirshman-esque slap at young women's irresponsible misinterpretation of "equality" and its disastrous effect on society. In dizzying succession, he calls out feminism, binge drinking, the welfare state, ivory tower intellectuals, the death of marriage, free love and, with particular vitriol, Germaine Greer.
The one thing they have not tried is questioning the orthodoxies of feminism. Might not the unhappiness and social disruption of so many teenage pregnancies be linked to the promiscuous hedonism preached since the 1960s by the likes of Germaine Greer?
None of this righteous agitprop comes as a shock from the publication that brings us simplistic moral outrage and Liz Jones in equal measure on a weekly basis. But the source of Exhibit B may surprise: Oprah.com. Here's its tagline: "Being a strong, powerful woman doesn't mean you have to be tough, overworked and unattractive. Karen Salmansohn explains how power and success come from being in touch with your feminine, sexy and loving side."
As the author rightly points out, "Almost from the introduction of the word "feminism" into our world, the definition has become corroded to mean something less than complimentary than its original intent. Somewhere along the line, to be a feminist started to mean a woman who's basically unattractive both in looks and spirit." And, rather than challenge that " shameful and highly unhelpful" notion, she concludes,
Women could truly benefit from finding a more inspiring word than "feminism" to stand by, as well as stand for, when seeking to become our most powerful and successful selves. We don't have to make a choice between feminine or powerful and successful. We can be all those things.With this in mind, I'd like to put forth that starting today, the word "feminism" be updated to become the new word "feminine-ism."...My goal is to inspire women to embrace being their fullest potential selves-feminine, sexy, warm, loving-everything the word "feminine" stands for, alongside strong qualities like powerful and successful.
In case you're wondering - and you probably don't have to - this is a cousin of the "fun, fearless female" school of empowerment. Or, as she puts it,
As a card-carrying "feminine-ist," I am here to tell you that feeling sexy is what helps me to be my most powerful and successful self, and being powerful and successful also helps me feel damn sexy! As "feminine-ists," we definitely don't need to make the choice between feminine or powerful and successful. We should and must try to embrace both choices simultaneously.
Because feminism, of course, forces one to make that choice. But that's not the best part: "Another good thing about bandying about words like "feminine-ist" and "feminine-ism"? Men can join in the bandying!" Before they were, apparently, barred from bandying. Tardy to the bandying party. If I were inclined to really get into this debate, which I'm not, because the arguments are reductive and silly and depressing and frankly insulting, I'd concede that within these screeds there are, of course, good points, and common ground, and even some common sense. But it's the sweeping generalizations, the perpetuation of reductive misconception, the sense of being pummeled from all sides that's so depressing. And millions of women will read this on Oprah.com, and agree, and possibly even shoe-horn the unwieldy neologism into the lexicon. And the Daily Mail will approve. And then they can all have a home-cooked dinner (in full makeup) and throw darts at a picture of Germaine Greer.