« Previous Story | Front Page | Next Story »


Post Feminism

By Diane Wahto
Opinion | May 21, 2014

My oldest granddaughter graduated from the University of Kansas last weekend with honors in English and German. She wrote her honors thesis on feminist attitudes, then and now. I was able to read it when I went to Lawrence for the graduation celebration, and I found myself surprised at some of the attitudes she unearthed.

She based the thesis on interviews of women representing various generations. I was probably the oldest woman she interviewed, with her scholarship hall friends being the youngest. When I was in my early 20s, I read Betty Friedan's The Feminine Mystique with my third baby on my lap. As I read, I had that "click" of recognition that so many feminists in the late '60s and early '70s talked about. I realized the feminist movement gave a name to what I'd been looking for most of my life.

Keep in mind I wasn't one of those women who lived in America's suburbs and who, out of boredom or for whatever reason, dosed themselves daily with pills and alcohol. I became a mother when I was 19 and soon I had three small children to fill my days. At the time I read The Feminine Mystique, my family was living in a farmhouse on the outskirts of a small Missouri town. Some people used the pasture behind us to board their horses. The farmhouse wasn't a bad place to live. In fact, it was kind of pleasant to live there after I got a washer and dryer to handle all the laundry three small children and a husband generated.

However, when winter rolled in and we had a couple of weeks on a row during which the temperature didn't get above 15 degrees in the daytime, I knew we had to find another place to live. I also knew by then that until I found and fulfilled my passion, whatever it might be, I would always be dissatisfied.

As with all young mothers, most of my passion centered on the care of my children. That's as it should be and I enjoyed my kids. They pulled me out of myself, which is a good thing, and kept me entertained most of the time.

However, I always knew I wanted to be independent. Most young married women with children are not in a position to be independent, at least not at the time when I was young. Even so, I still felt the push to free myself of my husband's economic hold on me and as soon as I could I began working toward that goal.

I finally became free when we divorced several years later. I eventually became a high school journalism teacher, and even though my children and I went through some difficult times, I was able to support myself without help from anyone.

Also, I felt that I'd come into my own as a feminist. At the time we lived in a small Kansas town, but many of my friends were also divorced and taking care of their families, and we had a certain camaraderie among us.

When I moved to Wichita, I joined the Wichita chapter of the National Organization for Women. This happened to be close to the time that Operation Rescue began its assault on Dr. George Tiller's abortion clinic. I became involved with other women, and men, who were going up against those who wanted to take women's reproductive rights away. It was through that involvement that I made many of the feminist friends who remain my friends to this day.

I know assumptions are a dangerous thing, but I did assume that those women who came after me would carry on the work of the feminists who had gone before. What I discovered was that the women my granddaughter interviewed, a small sample, to be sure, expressed a certain disinterest in the feminist movement. Even my granddaughter's step-grandmother, ten years younger than I, said she didn't consider herself a feminist because she hadn't read the books. I don't know what to make of that. She did point out that in her profession, she has to hold her own with men who must be convinced that she knows as much as they do.

The real eye-opener came in her interviews with her young classmates. A couple of them said a wife should be subservient to her husband and should be at home to take care of family. They did admit that women should have equality, but it wasn't clear what that meant to them.

Yes, I'm shocked a little to see that a movement I felt was so crucial to women seems to have passed many women by. Of course, with such a small sample, it's difficult to know the attitudes of most young woman. However, those of us who fought for equal rights for women, something that has yet to be, it is disappointing that younger women think the battle has been won,or wasn't necessary in the first place, and they don't need that "click" of recognition to motivate them.


Post your own comment here


Do you want to read more? You've only just scratched the surface at the Kansas Free Press. We have so much more to read! Nearly all of the pieces published here are timeless and relevant, regardless of when the articles were first published. To discover more, please take a look at our Table of Contents or go back to our Front Page.


Our sponsors help us stay online to serve you. Thank you for doing your part! By using the specific links below (clicking through from our site) to start any of your online shopping, you are making a tremendous difference. By using the shopping links provided on a Kansas Free Press page, you are directly helping to support the Kansas Free Press:



About This Page

This page contains just one story published on May 21, 2014. The one written previous to this is titled "Guarding the Kansas Henhouse" and the story published right after this one is "Representative Tim's bragging rights. ??"

Our most current stories are always updated on our Front Page.

Other Archives

Interested in other topics? You may wish to poke around in our Table of Contents to find other sections and archives.

Do you want to explore pieces written by specific authors? You can find archives for KFP writers by reviewing our complete Directory of Authors and Writers here.

Recently Featured Stories

Representative Tim's bragging rights. ??

I copied and pasted from Rep. Huelskamp's news letter the following. "On Thursday afternoon, a strong bipartisan majority of the House of Representatives joined me to pass America's Small Business Tax Relief Act of 2014 (HR 4457). This needed …
Post Feminism

My oldest granddaughter graduated from the University of Kansas last weekend with honors in English and German. She wrote her honors thesis on feminist attitudes, then and now. I was able to read it when I went to Lawrence …
Guarding the Kansas Henhouse

Life on my grandfather's farm in some ways epitomized the rural farm life I still envision as the ideal Kansas life. Neighbors helped each other, there was plenty of fresh air and beautiful country. Everywhere there was (with …
Things Go Better with the Kochs in Charge

In the interest of expediency and cost savings, I think we should turn our state, county, and local governing bodies over to the Kochs. Doing so would allow us to cancel expensive elections and eliminate voter fraud as an …
Drought: We Can Learn from Job

Out here on McDowell Creek there was a beautiful snowfall a few days ago, rain the next day, a cloudburst last night, and now fog today. While runoff is gathering in puddles, our hope is growing: Maybe it won't …

News and Opinion





Get Connected

See our FB page!
Subscribe for free!
[Feeds & Readers...]
Follow Kansas Free Press on Twitter, too!
Make Kansas Free Press your home page!

Journalists, sign in.

We're reader supported!

Whenever you use the specific links below to begin any of your online shopping, a portion of your sale goes directly towards the support of this site.

Tech Depot - An Office Depot Co.


Our sponsors help us stay online to serve you. Thank you for doing your part! By using the specific links above (clicking through from our site) to start any of your online shopping, you are making a tremendous difference. By using the shopping links provided on a Kansas Free Press page, you are directly helping to support the Kansas Free Press.

Thank you for your help!

Notices & Policies

All of our Kansas Free Press journalists are delighted that you are here. We all hope that you come here often, sign in and leave us comments, and become an active part of our community. Welcome!

Our writers are credentialed after referral to, and approval by, the editor/publisher of KansasFreePress.com. If you are interested in writing with us, please feel free to let us know here. We are always looking for Kansans who want to write about Kansas!

All authors here retain their own copyrights for their original written works, original photographs and art works. They welcome others to copy, reference or quote from the content of their stories, provided that the reprints include obvious author and website attribution and links to the original page, in accordance with this publication's Creative Commons License.

Our editor primarily reviews stories for spelling, grammar, punctuation and formatting and is not liable or responsible for the opinions expressed by individual authors. The opinions and accuracy of information in the individual stories on this site are the sole responsibility of each of the individual authors. For complete site policies, including privacy, see our Frequently Asked Questions. This site is designed, maintained, and owned by its publisher, Everyday Citizen Media. The Kansas Free Press, KansasFreePress.com, and Kansas Free Press are trademarked names.

© Copyright, 2008-2012, all rights reserved, unless otherwise specified, first by the respective author, and then by KFP's publisher and owner for any otherwise unreserved and all other content.