‘Is there a future for feminism?’ Time magazine asked in December 1989. A typical media sally, it reflected the hope, among reactionaries, that women had achieved enough — or too much. By the late 1990s it had become fashionable to portray the women’s movement as uncertain about its direction and lacking popular support. These hostile views appeared to find an echo within the movement as the terms ‘New’ and ‘Old’ feminist began to reappear, though the differences between them were largely matters of emphasis and priorities rather than fundamentals. Certain issues, such as free contraception, abortion on demand, educational reform, legal and financial independence for women and ending discrimination against lesbians, stood lower down the agenda by this time, while the key concerns of the movement now centred around equal opportunities in employment, equal pay and improvements in the provision of childcare; women’s role as mothers seemed the greatest remaining obstacle to female equality in the labour force.
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