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Moran is right, it is simple: and yet, for such a simple message, its cultural penetration has been patchy, fluctuating and disappointing. People who like to sound the death knell for the ideology – it's remarkable even that such people still exist – point to the fact that young women tend not to describe themselves as feminists. There is a certain sour enjoyment from pointing out all the privileges that they owe to the sisterhood – the equal pay, the maternity leave – but I would query the importance of the self-description. One can promulgate the values of feminism quite effectively by just living them, by expecting fairness at work and at home, and young women are better at this, less surrendered, than anyone. Much more chilling for me was the recent debate around the Slut Walks. On mainstream television ( Newsnight ) the Conservative MP Louise Bagshawe said that the word "slut" could never be reclaimed, would always be a horrible word, because it "lionised promiscuity". Meanwhile, in mainstream print (the Sunday Times), columnist Minette Marrin wrote: "There is no universal human right to dress and behave like a sluttish streetwalker touting for sex, without occasionally being taken for one." These are not young women; they have been many years in this culture, without apparently encountering feminism's basic precepts. It ought to be taken as given, by now, that you can object to promiscuity generally, if you like, and I imagine this would be on faith grounds, but if you object to promiscuity in women, specifically, then you are barking up the wrong skirt. It ought to be obvious, beyond remarking, that a woman should be able to sleep with whom she wants, when she wants, as often as she wants, without danger and without shame. It surely should go without saying that being a prostitute and being raped are two different activities. The fact that so little progress has been made in the specific area of female sexuality is partly because of divisions within feminism – many of the boldest voices see the Slut business as a post-modern stunt, where sexual violence is used as a stalking horse to co-opt young women into hot pants and thence into the raunch culture that oppresses them further. Sylvia Walby, in her new book, The Future of Feminism , adjudicates on this magisterially. But divisions alone cannot account for this.

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