Tuesday, 10 January 2012

Back to work: Women's Lib and after

It's  a good way into the new year and I no longer have any of the excuses for not working that I had before Christmas (death of computer; organising a conference); or over Christmas (visitors, family, bad cold) or even since Christmas (visitors, family, celebrating birthday; having the builders in).  Well, the builders are still here, actually, but that's not really a good excuse. So back to work today, trying to put together a paper about the legacy of feminism, for the 'After Homosexual' conference in Melbourne in about three week' time.

The topic sprang from the data in my questionnaire survey. While most polls put the number of women who would call themselves feminists at about 25 - 30% of the general population, my survey of lesbians over 60 shows that almost 8 out of 10 - 78.2% to be exact - would claim that name. It's one of the most striking findings so far, and I'm trying to unpick it. Is it about being over 60? Probably, since second wave feminism / Women's Lib hit my generation at a particularly formative moment. Or is it about being a lesbian? Or is it impossible, as Bonnie Zimmerman found, to unpick the two?  

I've spent the day hacking away at the rockface of the quantitative data, and reached the happy conclusion that mere statistics won't explain it. So now I can go back to the life-stories and the transcripts of the interviews, and listen to the voices of the women for whom feminism has been important. Usually in a good way. But not always. That's another interesting thing. Watch this space

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