"The greatest trick the Devil ever pulled was convincing the World he didn't exist."
When someone says we're living in a post-feminist or post-racist world or post-any-other-civil-rights-issue, that's the Devil whispering in your ear - and many others' ears, too. What else needs to be done if we've already won? The issues no longer exist.
Just this week, I read the Copyblogger post "Why James Chartrand wears Women's Underpants," where the excellent blogger and writer from (still-appropriately-named?) Men with Pens, James Chartrand - herself - shared her story of trying to enter freelancing as a woman, but who didn't find success until she reinvented her online self as a man.
"This week" - more specifically, Monday, December 14, 2009. Yes, 2009. We're not talking pre-20th century like George Eliot or any of the Brontë sisters. This isn't pre-civil rights legislation like James Tiptree, Jr. (aka Alice Sheldon) or even Andre Norton had to go through. This is after J.K. Rowling chose to use initials over 10 years ago to submit her best-selling series. If she didn't use her initials then, would you know her stories and who she is now?
As a member of the Motherboard for Broad Universe, I'm constantly learning about what goes on in the publishing industry - specifically in speculative fiction, as that's what I write and that's what the organization promotes. In fact, we have some excellent statistics up at our site to show people that women do, indeed, have the deck stacked against them. Of course, Broad Universe wasn't the first. Before us was Sisters in Crime (created in 1986), who have done amazing work in the mystery genre. And, just before Broad Universe, Women Writing the West (1998) presented their first WILLA awards for women in the western genre.
I can't say "not a day goes by without," but I can say "not a month goes by without" at least 2 people - male or female (but not trans-gendered, as they are well aware of these issues) - ask me why women/feminists need their own publishing support networks, business networks, conventions (like Wiscon or Conbust), awards... In fact, annually, I get into 1-2 outright, if not hostile, arguments - sometimes even with friends - that it's "offensive" to them that I'm a feminist, or that I'm going to a women-only or woman-promoting meeting/convention. I'm asked, "Isn't that sexist?"
No. It's not.
It's making up for the lost pay and lost opportunities I still suffer right now, WE women still suffer right now. If James Chartrand's story isn't enough, I can personally direct you to no less than 3 other women who have turned in the same manuscript under their name and under a gender neutral name - no changes made - and had the gender neutral manuscript accepted with little-to-no changes. On top of that, look at the Business and Professional Women's Foundation and its studies of the continuing wage disparity.
Women-only support groups are not sexist because even with the work they do, they have not bridged the gap of wage, promotional support, and networking resources that exists in mainstream business and industry. For example, if you follow the link to the Broad Universe statistics, you'll see where things have been improving in since we started taking statistics. However, women authors are still far behind men in receiving recognition, promotional support from publishing houses, being invited as guests-of-honor at conventions, advance pay, award nominations, and even plain old book reviews!
Now, I'm only talking about the very narrow writing-publishing aspect of the gender-issue spectrum, but unequal rights abound all over. There are plenty of articles and books available on popular media and advertising, and how women are portrayed negatively and unfairly. As I mentioned earlier, the Business and Professional Women's Foundation has a lot of information about gender inequality in the workplace. Yes, women have it better before the civil rights movement, but that doesn't mean we are treated as an equal demographic to men. There are plenty statistics and studies available, by multiple sources, so you can cross-check for yourself.
So, next time your tempted to think that we're in a post-feminist (or post-inequality) era, remember the Devil's greatest trick. Whether you believe in an actual sentient evil in the world or prefer the metaphor, the danger exists either way. If you don't believe wrongness is there, it continues to sneak in and taint your life. People cannot choose to do the right thing if they don't think the wrong option exists.
Inequality is pernicious and active - don't be tricked into thinking otherwise.