Some women are die-hard, self-proclaimed feminists who fight for every injustice women face. Others feel that by calling themselves feminists, they are misandrists or have to give up their femininity or traditional place in life as a domestic goddess in an effort to fight the patriarchy. As with any group, there are stereotypes that have to be addressed and debunked, and this time, it’s feminism.
If you read the news or engage in any form of social media, you’ve probably witnessed the disagreements among people around the world about the status and importance of equality.
There are plenty of people who don’t support the idea that there should be equal rights and equal opportunities for men and women. There are even people who feel we’ve already arrived at equality for men and women.
But let’s start at the basics of what feminism is to really understand it. Feminism advocates for women’s rights on the basis of the equality of the sexes. Yet radical feminism has been featured by the media in a negative light, thus, the term has been given a bad connotation. But it’s far from what feminism started off as when the official movement began in the second half of the 20th century.
The Women’s Movement evolved out of social reform groups such as the Abolition of Slavery, the Social Purity and Temperance movements because women began to realise that in order to transform society they will need their own organisations to do so.
In the 1940s and 50s, the war challenged stereotypes in the workplace, so women began to enter the workforce in much larger numbers. As some of the burden of family responsibility began to be shifted onto the state, together the trade unions and the women’s movement fought for a welfare state system that would provide and act as a safety net.
The 1960s and 70s witnessed a mass entry of women into the workforce, and the Pill changed women’s traditional role within the family. As a result, women began campaigning for abortion, free childcare provision and equal pay rights.
While radical feminists — also known as femnazis — have the right to their own opinions and are justified in expressing their womanhood however they personally see fit, it’s an exaggerated form of the movement.
Being a feminist is not about hating men or being forced to grow out your leg and armpit hair. What we have to realize is that at its core, feminism is about equality of men and women, not sameness. Men and women have different physical capabilities, hindering the possibility of physical equality.
Feminism is about having the freedom and flexibility to make one’s own decisions without social or legal repercussions. It’s about getting paid the same amount for the same work. It was about gaining the right to vote and keeping it — although Wayne Allyn Root and others find that women using birth control under the Affordable Care Act should lose their voting rights.
It’s about allowing women to achieve their life and career goals, whether that means being a single CFO or a housewife with six kids, or a combination of the two. It’s about having access to safe abortions should a woman choose to have one, and not demanding that feminists only count if they are pro-choice.
Feminism is not a war on femininity or men. It is a war on the constraints of the patriarchy. Feminism is allowing a woman to be a woman however she feels is right. Feminism is meant to support and educate other women, and that’s what we need to be doing as a society.