Feminism Today… What Exactly Is It?

Feminism Today… What Exactly Is It?

Feminism is on the rise again, in what people have dubbed its “third wave” in the Western world. When it started, the focus of feminism was to gain women’s suffrage and freedom, but as it grew and more women of different races, classes, and sexualities joined it became a movement determined to remove any inequalities between men and women. As it stands today, feminism is still trying to achieve that, but it has become a much more significant force: encompassing all social movements as it intersects with them.

So what does feminism mean?

Feminism is defined by Merriam-Webster as

  1. “The theory of political, economic, and social equality of the sexes.”
  2. “Organised activity on behalf of women’s rights and interests.”

Both are correct of course, however, there is more to feminism than just those simple terms. We cannot take an entire movement and compress it all into 20 words, compressing at least a century’s worth of history. No, feminism means so much more now.

Feminism means equality for all, regardless of their gender, sexual orientation, class, race, religion, nationality, disability, employment, or anything. Feminism means bringing women up to their male counterparts, and with the rising women also all the other people who are deemed by society to be lesser than the heterosexual, cis male. But at the same time, it means removing the restrictions men have had placed upon them by society, and many people forget this.

Many people think that men are completely free in all their rights, but that’s not true exactly. Yes they have more rights, make more money, are socially accepted as being more capable of everything, but they also are emotionally repressed. A man who is sensitive is not a man in society, a man can’t show his love for his male friends without having his masculinity and sexuality questioned, men receive custody of children less than women because child caring has been deemed a “woman’s job”. It’s unfair.

And believe me, I’m not lamenting the woes of men, I’m a woman, I have my own woes. I have more. There are other’s who have even more than me, I’m lucky. The main reason I included this is that people forget that men are included in feminism too. That’s why meninism makes no sense – you’re already covered, guys!

What is feminism even fighting?

Feminism is simply fighting the patriarchy, the governing rule of society that places masculinity, men, at the top of the social pyramid. The patriarchy is the cause of nearly all problems gender equality faces. That’s why you’ll hear people shout “down with the patriarchy” at any feminist protest, and it should go down. It should’ve a long time ago, patriarchal societies are outdated, we should really be moving forward not staying where we are. The patriarchy sucks.

The patriarchy oppresses women, and the further you get away from being a white, middle-class, cis woman, the more oppressed you are. The patriarchy represses men (see there is a difference). It inhibits a man’s ability to show that he is anything other than the socially defined masculine, heterosexual male. When you get into it deeper, there is oppression when the male in question is literally anything but white, heterosexual, or cisgender, as it is the same for women, the further you are from society’s standard the more oppressed you become.

So feminism is working to end this because if the patriarchy goes down there are very few obstacles in women’s ways. The fight would not end there, though, feminism is intersectional– it connects with many other social movements and so even if feminism achieves its goals there are still going to be oppressed women due to race, sexuality, or whatever. The fight never ends.

What is a feminist?

A feminist is simply someone who supports feminism, all of feminism. If we’re going to be feminists we don’t get to pick and choose which parts we support, we support them all. Meaning we support the people of colour, the LGBTQ* people, the disabled, the religious and non-religious, the men, all of them. We can’t have warring opinions, we can’t say women deserve to be equal unless they’re gay, we’re not feminists then, we’re homophobic. Our restrictions for equality are what define us as a movement.

So that, to me at least, is what feminism is today. It’s not a dirty word, it’s not a bad thing to be associated with, it quite simply means you support equality for all. I can’t imagine why anyone wouldn’t want to be associated with that. Feminism is not a movement about hatred, it’s a movement about moving forward. We can never undo what we did in the past, we can only work to prevent it from happening in the future.

One Reply to “Feminism Today… What Exactly Is It?”

  1. This is very enlightening. I myself thought feminism was about the uprising of women fighting for equal rights. Nothing more. Many people think that if you are a feminist, then you simply want to cause trouble. This is in part due to a few who in the name of “feminism” have demanded membership into groups that have traditionally been male only. Yet women have groups as well that men are not allowed to be part of, therefore, we are telling them that they have to give us what we want in the name of feminism, but we don’t have to reciprocate. I believe these women simply wanted their five minutes of fame, however, their fame cast a negative light on feminism, and I believe caused a setback. Unfortunately, we as a society tend to remember, and focus on the negative, and many men (and women), have come to associate feminism with this type of behavior or goals of feminists.

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