Feminist Battles for the 20-Something
Time Out New York’s daily newsletter was the only thing that popped up in my inbox this morning. After the fifth or sixth refresh in as many minutes, I found myself compelled to actually open it. I was immediately drawn to the “Street Fashion: Wall Street Happy Hour” slideshow. The Forward’s office is a stone’s throw from Wall Street. Would I see some of my exceptionally well-dressed co-workers? Maybe Time Out’s photographers snapped my picture. And, I reasoned, if by some oversight they had forgotten to include us, I would at least glean useful tips on dressing professionally.
I began clicking through the pictures, past Phil, the Armani-clad financial strategist, and Dylan, the hipster consultant, and Josh and Dan and Thiago and Darren and Erik. And then, it was over. There was no mention of this being any sort of feature on men’s fashion, yet the slideshow featured only men. There seemed to be some implicit assumption that Wall Street=men.
Working in the Financial District, I can tell you that this is decidedly not so. There are well-dressed women everywhere around here. You should see the amazing sweater the Forward’s Deputy Web Editor, Allison, is wearing today.
The slideshow is emblematic of a brand of pernicious, implicit sexism. An editorial published in my alma mater’s student newspaper this fall, in response to an infuriating scandal not worth rehashing here, stated:
Feminists at Yale should remember that, on a campus as progressive as ours, most of their battles are already won: All of us agree on gender equality.
It’s this sort of sentiment I often hear repeated by my fellow early 20-something female friends. Why be a feminist? The battle is won.
I find myself very nearly wishing that we had it as “easy” as our forebearers — if only we could take to the streets, screaming for the right to vote. If only we had a concrete battleground and laws left to change. I’m clearly grateful for the rights won by the women before me. But there are battles left to fight. They’re just as important, and in certain ways, they’re even more difficult to address. The sexism that remains, evidenced by this slideshow, is elusive and subtle, barely worth a boycott or a bra-burning. But it’s everywhere — searing into our minds that women don’t belong on Wall Street. We need to notice and we need get angry, no matter how petty the topic seems. Every piece of culture that blindly stands upon these sexist assumptions is just another reminder: The battle still isn’t won.