By: Mica Soellner
We are in the midst of the fourth wave of feminism, a movement that highly celebrates the opportunities of powerful women. With this, women in high-position jobs, a phenomenon that was almost nonexistent a few decades ago are praised–and rightly so. I’ve always considered myself to be a “career woman,” a label I define simply as being a woman with goals in the workforce. The ambitions of the idea are clear, but its focus leaves behind many of women without this kind of mentality or mobility.
Much of the feminism we see today comes from pop culture and sparkling images of the rich and famous. We see singers, actors and business executives paving the way for female entrepreneurship. When we picture a career woman, we see blazers and high heels. This leaves a huge excluding gap for the rest of the female workforce.
The women in traditional blue collar work, service industries and even stay-at-home moms aren’t appreciated enough in the fourth feminist wave. There’s emphasis placed on female domination in the male-dominated white-collar market, but we forget to look at female workers in manufacturing, maintenance and manual labor–who have always traditionally been overlooked by their male counterparts.
This absence of attention towards blue-collar women has become highlighted in the campaign against sexual harassment, or the #MeToo movement. When the New York Times published their expose on the history of harassment behind female Ford factory workers, the nation shifted their focus from Hollywood to the factory floor. However, since then, it seems that we hear the need to continue this focus on the issue of harassment towards working class women, but don’t see it. These women deserve far better than just one prominent story and a few humble mentions at the Golden Globes.
We must remember to keep those who shape the backbone of our nation in our minds just as much as we keep those who gloss the covers of magazines. Powerful women come in more than one package. They’re not just our bosses–they’re our teachers, cleaners, restaurant servers and our mothers. The list goes on. By definition, feminism is the advocation of equal rights between the sexes, and we cannot make the battle towards the equality of women divisive.
The celebration of women in the workforce has always been a powerful observation. If feminism’s aim is progress, we have to challenge the incumbent idea of the “career woman.” We cannot praise high-profile women while ignoring those in less-than-glamorous jobs. We must strive to appreciate the positions of all women – white-collar, blue-collar and the homemaker. Female leadership is about representation, not separation. All women deserve to be honored for their ambitions, hard work and the courage to persevere across the ages.
About the author: Mica Soellner is an American freelance journalist who has previously worked for the Independent, various media platforms across South Wales, and has been featured on the BBC Asian Network radio.