A New Age Of Feminism

The February issue of Playboy magazine hit the stands this week. An Airforce sergeant holds the dubious honor of centerfold celebrity stardom. Her name is Michelle Manhart.

Ms. Manhart is mother of two, whose husband is also in the airforce. She trained in the Air force law enforcement academy and the K9 program, soon racking up a long list of medals and commendations. She served in Kuwait on the second anniversary of 9/11, got a bachelor's degree in political science from the University of Northern Iowa, and started on a master's degree. Her childhood dream was always to be a Playboy model.

And her wish has finally been granted. When Manhart told her superior officier about the Playboy pictures, she was taken off the job. "The staff sergeant's alleged action is not representative of the many thousands of outstanding airmen who serve in the US Airforce today." Manhart now has a lawyer. "There's nothing wrong with it," Manhart said last week.

"By no means did I see anything wrong in what i was doing." My sister and I were discussing this on the phone last evening. We decided that The New Age of Feminism is here. In simple terms, feminism is the belief in social, political and economic equality of the sexes, and a movement organized around the belief that gender should not be the pre-determinant factor shaping a person's social identity or socio-political or economic rights.

Our grandmother was a suffragette. Feminism as an organized movement appeared in the late 19th century in a number of countries, and agitation for votes for women became increasingly visible and vocal at the beginning of the twentieth century. After the granting of suffrage, women's movements turned to other issues of social reform and equality. The two world wars changed much of the world and with it the perception of women's work outside the home. After the Second World War, feminism entered a second stage or wave with campaigns for reproductive rights and removal of discrimination.

The United Nations created an office to represent women's rights. Since then feminism has continued to reinvent and redefine itself to adapt to a changing world and a diversity of cultures. "When we were young, women did not serve in the military nor did we want to serve, because we were pacifist--at least everyone we knew were pacifist," said my sister.

"We, our generation, thought Playboy bunnies were sexist pigs, starting with Hugh Hefner," I said. I see things differently, these days. I see Manhart's actions as an extention of the bravery she displays by her service to our country.

Women all over the globe are oppressed and abused. 90% of the nursing workforce are women, who are hostile and aggressive to one another, especially to new nurses coming in. So when Michelle Manhart decided to live out her chilhood dream, little did she know that she resurrected Women's Liberation to a new level of expression. Her right to uninhibited free expression translates to a greater level of freedom for women everywhere, in the long run. The military, for starters, will drop the double standard. Maybe after I'm gone from this physical plane, Muslam women will drop their veils, the Widows of India will be given the freedom to remarry, Taliban women will be given the right to a good education.

The list goes on and on. The freedoms that American women enjoy are light years ahead of what women in third world countries experience. And Michelle Manhart's story just dropped the barriers even further. For that, I am grateful.

-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=--=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=- Kate Loving Shenk is a writer, healer, musician and the creator of the e-book called "Transform Your Nursing Career and Discover Your Calling and Destiny." Click here to find out how to order the e-book: http://www.nursingcareertransformation.com Check Out Kate's Blog: http://www.nursehealers.typepad.com -=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-

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