Feminism. There are many stereotypes around the topic of feminism. To answer some of those stereotypes: no, feminist don’t hate men, in fact, 20% of American men consider themselves to be feminist, feminist aren’t angry at everything, and many feminist are religious. But, what is feminism? How is feminism changing? How did it start, and where are we now?
Feminism is working to achieve equal rights, socially, economically, and politically, for women. Feminism has a negative opinion surrounding it. One misconception is that many people think that feminist hate men. That is not true at all! The goal of feminism is to get rid of toxic masculinity and break down the patriarchy. Feminist simply want men and women to be more equal. For example, to receive equal pay and not be the person expected to “tend to the home”. Feminist want to work with men to reach an equal ground. We don’t hate men. We just dislike the big inequalities between the genders. To break another misconception, feminist aren’t angry at everything. Women aren’t allowed to be seen as angry. It is considered “unladylike”. Feminist are going against traditional gender roles, which is what makes people think that we are always angry. Feminist are, in fact, not always angry. We are only angry about the injustices in the world, such as getting paid less due to being a woman, when a man will get paid more for doing the same job. It is injustices like that that create anger. Finally, there is a big misconception that all feminist are not religious. When, in fact, many different religious organizations have been stepping up in the fight for female equality. One way is by speaking out on sexual harassment that happened in a religious space. That is a big taboo topic, and a topic that is covered up by the church and public. However, females and religious organizations have not let those topics fade away. Another topic is representation in religion. There are a lot of underrepresented religions that have females in high power political jobs. They represent their faith and being a strong women within politics. Underrepresented religions have fought for policies that support women in their religion and many other communities. There are many misconceptions that are inaccurate towards feminism, and an unfair negative light pointed towards feminism.
Feminism is changing as our world changes. Women were once fighting for the right to vote and to work. Now that we are given a lot more rights, our fight is working to be treated with respect. It’s women building each other up. Feminism is bringing up the taboo topics that people would never want to bring up in the beginning stages of feminism (sexual assault and abortion, for example). Social media and technology has changed the world and feminism completely. Women are telling their stories and demanding respect. Social media has allowed women to present themselves unfiltered. When women post they don’t have to be censored, and it gives an opportunity to talk to all audiences of all countries, ethnicities, and genders.
Feminism started with the first wave. The first wave of feminism was in the late 19th Century. It was not the first sight of feminism, but it was the first political movement, hence the name: the first wave of feminism. The first wave of feminism was focused on getting respect and being seen as human beings, not property. The major goal was women’s suffrage. The first wave of feminism was primarily white, middle - class females. While the focus was mainly on women’s suffrage, some other goals were seeking higher education, birth control, employment rights, and marriage laws. The first wave of feminism gave women the right to vote and paved the way. Women from the 19th Century would be so proud of where we are now. Nevertheless, we still have a long way to go in our fight for equal rights. Hopefully, years from now, we will be amazed by the strides made in the Feminist movement.
Where we are now in the feminist movement is debated among many people, but the consensus is that we are in the fourth wave of the feminist movement that began in 2012. The fourth wave of feminism focuses on gender norms and social exclusion in society. It focuses on sexual harassment, for example, the me - too movement, body shaming, and it capitalizes on social media to spread feminist ideals. This wave is different from the other waves of feminism because it takes into consideration the different struggles that people of color and other minority groups have to go through. It’s fighting for women’s rights as a whole, as well as for women’s rights in different racial groups. That is important because different racial groups, unfortunately, have to experience sexism in a different way solely based on the color of their skin. Any type of exclusion, racism or sexism, is never ok! This wave has helped to stand up for that. Through social media, feminism has been easier to spread and female empowerment cannot be missed! Social media is such an important source in the fourth wave of feminism. The me - too movement has helped women come together to not feel alone and to feel heard with such a taboo topic. Rape is something that is so terrible to happen to anybody, and it is something that nobody should have to feel alone in the aftermath of such a terrible event! The fourth wave of feminism helps to empower women all over the world.
This is what feminism is. It has many misconceptions that are NOT true! Feminism is changing as we are entering a new age of technology and social media. It started in the 19th Century and has come so far. There is still so much to work on, but the feminist movement has made so many strides for women, and it will continue to help women.
Sadie Kirk Junior
Parkview Arts and Science High School
Little Rock, Arkansas