What is Feminism?
08 March 2017
Its International Women’s Day and this year the focus is on closing the gender gap and a “call for gender-balanced leadership; value women and men’s contributions equally; and create inclusive flexible cultures.”
The whole idea of IWD got me thinking. What exactly is Feminism?
This post isn’t about dictionary definitions. I’m more interested in how you feel about the movement and what it brings to the table in terms of gender equality.
I’ve never seen myself as a feminist.
That is to say I have never actively joined a group in the name of feminism and never persued feminism type-things purposefully.
I have, however throughout my life to date usually had the confidence to go out there and do my own thing regardless of any stereotypes that exist.
Even though I wouldn’t necessarily call myself a feminist, I have a huge amount of appreciation and respect for those women who have gone before us and done some incredibly brave things for our gender.
They pushed the boundaries of what was acceptable so that today we can live a life free enough to go out there and do our thing the way we want to.
Brave Women in History
Imagine if Queen Elizabeth I had been a dude or the suffragettes hadn’t existed.
What about all the incredible women who built ammunitions or became a spy in WWI & WWII?
They did what they had to do and started to change the way women were perceived in terms of what we are capable of.
What about the Men?
So right now you’re probably thinking “but what about the brave men out there who have done amazing things throughout history?”
You would be right. That was just what I was thinking and this is where I think we get to the crux of what I think feminism actually is.
Equality for both sexes.
The movement dates back to mid 19th Century
Women have always had to work that little bit harder to prove ourselves in the world for whatever reason and so that’s what we have gone out and done.
We had to call it something so feminism it became.
Some have taken that bull by the horns and run with it in the attempt to improve women’s lives everywhere. Others have taken the idealism of the word and used it to their advantage.
It has become the product of it’s people and not all those people have the best intentions.
Over time it has become mixed up in politics and the media in all the best ways as well as all the worst ways.
Women against Feminism
So is this why some women are completely against the idea of Feminism?
There are those who feel strongly about the negative effects of feminism and how it ‘demonises men and doesn’t take their needs into account’.
Is that what it really is?
In my opinion, feminism is simply a way of saying that women can be equal to men. Its just taking a while to achieve this goal because there are still strong opinions out there on how women should be and act.
Everyone is of course entitled to their own opinion. Anti Feminist, Feminist or neither, most people are keen to achieve their goals and do the best they possibly can in life.
Women are mostly able do this today because of other women who have come before us paving the way and that’s something we can’t deny.
What Feminism means to other women
I wanted to find out what the word meant to some other women out there and this is what they said:
Anne: Ultimately feminism is defined as equal rights and opportunities for both sexes. Sometimes I worry that feminists have been tarnished by the stereotypical bra-burning dungaree-wearing, hairy-legged man-hating image. For me it isn’t like that at all. It’s about following your dreams and standing up for what’s right.
Kirsten: I am a feminist because the freedoms I exercise today only exist because of brave women and forward-thinking men.
Caroline: To me feminism is seeing women taking charge of how they want to live their lives – free of societal paradigms and expectations. Including if that choice is a traditional role like full time mom.
Sarah: I feel that feminism has a ‘bad’ connotation to it. 🙁 But I also think I AM a feminist. The perception I get of feminism is that women can do anything. And they can do it better than men (and my inner feminist voice says “YES!”). I suppose in the past we have HAD to show this because women have been pushed into second class status, by scared men. But what it REALLY means to me is that ANY woman can do WHATEVER they put their mind too. But that also applies to any man! Xx
Katherine: I’m totally a feminist! I feel that feminism is, plain and simple, about equality for the sexes. While there are definitely some people that give it a bad name, I wear the label proudly because like we shouldn’t all associate radical Islam as what Muslims are about, or the KKK as what all white men represent, feminism shouldn’t be represented or only known by people who sh*t all over men.
Feminism is about both sexes having freedom to express themselves without being expected to do certain things just because of their gender. Just as a woman shouldn’t be judged for deciding to have a career that fills up her life, or decides not to have children, a man shouldn’t be judged less of a man if he cries or wants to stay home with his kids and not be the main breadwinner (or, as Caroline said, vice versa, if that’s what they want to do).
I think, done right, feminism has as much to do for men as women. I also think we need to be careful not to judge other people/women for their choices, for not being ‘for women’ enough.
Elizabeth: Feminism is human rights. Equal opportunity, equal pay, and respect for all people regardless of gender.
Back to today
So even though today we have amazing opportunities as women some still feel we have more work to do to close the gap between men and women in lots of different areas.
You don’t have to be a feminist to support women’s rights, its up to you who you support or don’t support or don’t give a monkeys about.
Ultimately, provided we help each other out instead of continuously racing to beat each other the closer we get to achieving our goals in the best way possible.
If we don’t stick up for ourselves then who will?!?
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