Women at risk of forgetting debt to feminism

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THERE was an interesting range of articles about women’s place in the world in last week’s Scotland on Sunday – from Venezuelan women enduring extreme cosmetic surgery to fit in with a (male) ideal of “beauty” to Dani Garavelli’s piece about the lack of female directors on company boards. One can only hope that Venezuela is a rogue example: women who are obsessed with trying to “perfect” their looks in line with a male stereotype do not deserve to be in a position of authority.

But even in the UK there is a danger of young women forgetting what they owe to feminism: we may not be quite as dimwitted as our Venezuelan counterparts, but there is still pressure on young women to conform to ideals of thinness and to dress like such “style icons” as Katie Price.

At the other end of the 
scale, of course, we have the sinister rise of the burka, a garment which is not required by genuine Islam but which some women claim to wear on the basis that it prevents men from wishing to sexually assault them (when it is quite clear that any man who regards a normally dressed woman as sexual prey ought to be in a secure mental health unit).

I am old enough to remember the advances made by the early feminists and would hate to believe the progress towards genuine equality – where it is normal, for example, for board members to be male and 
female – has stalled to the extent that women’s appearance is seen to be more important than their skills and abilities.

Dr Mary Brown, freelance education consultant, Banchory