piątek, 8 lutego 2013

Do not get the wrong message

gender
Don't get the wrong message

Here's a gender gap you haven't heard much about: the growing disconnect between women's material well-being and their sense of satisfaction.

"In 1992 the economy was rotten, but women were optimistic," says Linda Tarr-Whelan, president of the Center for Policy Alternatives. But nearly a decade of good times later, the female outlook has clouded. The center, with Lifetime Television, co-sponsored a study, "Women's Voices 2000," asking women how they felt about the way America was going. They responded with words like "angry," "awful," "sick" and "fed up." As the survey summed it up: "Women are asking, 'Is this as good as it gets?' "

The media largely interpreted the study to mean women are upset that their jobs are eating into family and leisure time. women fed up at work, read a typical headline. Surely women would be happy again if they could only spend more hours at home--or better yet, in the view of some conservatives, stay home permanently.

But the frustrations expressed in the survey's focus groups testify to something larger than the pressures of juggling. Underlying the question "Is this as good as it gets?" was a female j'accuse--against a consumer culture where values like caring had been severely discounted. "People are making so much money and it's like that's all that matters," said one respondent. Said another: "The subject of the day is whose Chanel bag is better."

The more you have, the better it gets, has been the decades-long mantra of commercialized femininity. It's no less the mantra of commercialized feminism--which is to say, feminism as rein-vented by the likes of "Sex and the City," Oxygen Media and Nike. "Choose Freedom!" the cyberchick urges sister dot-comers in ads for Toshiba laptops. Emancipation is the freedom to buy. So how can it be that women of the New Economy are feeling so distressed? Perhaps because consumer feminism was never the legitimate heir to the true feminist movement.

The women's movements of the last two centuries sought women's equality and independence not so women could be happy shoppers but so they could be responsible public citizens, so that they could remake social forces instead of surrendering to commercial siren calls. From 19th-century women's-rights resolutions to the 1966 NOW Statement of Purpose, that theme has sounded: women must be free so they can shoulder responsibility in a wider world, so they can dedicate themselves "not to personal ambitions," as feminist Crystal Eastman put it in 1915, but to "some un-personal sources of joy."

The current consumer reign seems the bad seed of something old and deep--and deeply antifeminist--in our society. The seed was nurtured by the rise of mass culture in the late 19th century, when commerce recast femininity for its own purposes: feminine happiness equals other women's envy of your purchased glamour. Or, in modern terms, who has the better Chanel bag.

The reaction came in the '60s and early '70s when the second wave of the women's movement mounted what promised to be a full-bore rebellion against consumer-enhanced femininity. As Betty Friedan divined in "The Feminine Mystique," the commercial flattery of the housewife was really a treacherous betrayal--female "purchasing power" in reality a "ghastly gift." Clairol and Lemon Pledge were the consumer culture's Trojan horse. As feminist author Susan Douglas observed in "Where the Girls Are," "Of all the social movements of the 1960s and '70s, none was more explicitly anticonsumerist than the women's movement."

And yet, in the end, feminism barely laid a glove on commercial forces. In a consumer culture, economic independence became "getting ahead," human potential became "having it all" and choice became the right to choose liposuction.

How could the tenets of a movement that posed such a forceful challenge to commercialism be converted so readily into a commercial vehicle? Because the popular version of feminism celebrates women's "happiness" as its primary goal. The real women's movement never promised anyone a rose garden, or wedding garter. "Are not women of the harem more 'happy' than women voters?" Simone de Beauvoir asked in "The Second Sex." "It is not too clear just what the word 'happy' really means and still less what true values it may mask... In particular those who are condemned to stagnation are often pronounced happy on the pretext that happiness consists in being at rest."

The dissatisfaction voiced by women in the poll springs from their recognition that happiness and responsibility are not the same thing. Over and over, they said they wanted their personal autonomy and an activist government both working to build a moral public world. "What we were hearing from women was that they wanted a life that's not just about earning," Tarr-Whelan says. "They want a life that's about caring, and a society where there's a recognition that caring is important." When women in the survey talked about "moral decline," she observes, they weren't speaking of President Clinton's sex scandals--as pundits assumed--but about a society that substitutes stock-market values for social health.

In that, significantly, they aren't alone. Numerous indexes of social well-being compiled by right- and left-leaning groups in the last few years have reached the same conclusion: Americans are richer but more distressed. If a revitalized women's movement can challenge the assumption that the "pursuit of happiness" equals freedom, it will be challenging a national mind-set that increasingly disturbs Americans, male and female alike, who no longer believe that the getting of goods is "as good as it gets."

Source: http://www.thedailybeast.com/newsweek/2001/01/07/don-t-get-the-wrong-message.html


Vocabulary:
- disconnect - odłączać, rozłączyć, rozłączenie
- outlook - pogląd, perspektywy
- clouded = confused (zakłopotany)
- interpret the study - interpretować badania
- eat into sth - zżerać znaczną cześć (np. czasu, pieniędzy). The high cost of living in London is eating into my savings.
- focus group - grupa fokusowa
- testify to - udowadniać, zeznawać
- underlying (underlie - underlay - underlain) - leżące u podstaw; to be a hidden cause of or strong influence on sth. Psychological problems very often underlie apparently physical disorders.
- discount - pomijać
- by the likes of - podobny / pokroju
- cyberchick - cyberlaska
- urge - wzywać, nawoływać, ponaglać, namawiać
- legitimate - prawowity
- heir to - dziedzic
- sought - (seek - sought - sought) szukać, for example: attention-seeking
- surrender - poddać się, zrezygnować
- resolution - postanowienie, rozwiązanie
- shoulder responsibility - brać (coś na siebie, np. odpowiedzialność)
- dedicate themselves - dedykować sobie
- the bad seed of - złe nasienie
- nurture - karmić, żywić, wychowywać
- the rise of mass culture - wzrost kultury masowej
- recast (recast-recast) - przerobić
- envy of - zazdrosny
- glamour - blask, świetność, atrakcyjność
- equal - równać się
- mount - urządzać, organizować
- full-bore - made with maximum effort or speed
- rebellion against - bunt przeciwk
- consumer-enhanced - wzmacniany przez konsumentów (enhance - ulepszać, uwydatniać)
- divine - domyślić się, wyczuć
- treacherous - podstępny, zdradliwy, fałszywy, perfidny (od: treachery)
- ghastly - okropny, upiorny, przerażający
- laid a glove on - ukarać
- tenets of - zasada, doktryna, dogmat
- to pose a challenge to sb - stanowić wyzwanie dla kogoś
- vehicle - mechanizm (metaforycznie)
- convert sb readily into - zmienić ochoczo/chętnie w
- primary (goal) - główny, podstawowy, pierwotny
- wedding garter - podwiązka panny młodej
- condemned to - skazany na, potępiać
- pronounce - ogłosić, oświadczać
- on the pretext that - pod pretekstem
- consist in - oparty na, zależny od
- at rest - w bezruchu, w spoczynku
- dissatisfaction voiced by - brak satysfakcji wygłoszony/wypowiedziany przez
- the poll - sondaż, ankieta
- spring from - rodzi się z, bierze się z
- pundit - ekspert, znawca tematu, specjalista
- substitute for - zamienić coś
- lean - opierać się (o coś)
- compile - opracowywać, układać (np. publikację)
- revitalize - odnawiać
- challenge the assumption - kwestionować założenie
- mind-set - stałe nastawienie
- as good as it gets - lepiej nie będzie

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