Never venture into the comments section of articles on Feminism unless you have a high tolerance for ignorance, blatant disregard for history and just plain old-fashioned stupidity. From calling Feminism a ‘lesbian propaganda movement’ to dismissing it as a farce, the comments induce a lot more exasperation than anything else. They also, however, reveal serious misconceptions that people attach with Feminism.
As a self-proclaimed learning feminist, it hurts when young women don’t want to associate themselves with this movement. What hurts even more are their reasons for not doing so. From wading through blogs like ‘Women Against Feminism’ and the murky depths of poisonous comments sections of various popular articles, two things are clear about women (or anyone) not wanting feminism- They either see Feminism in purely personal terms and not as a global movement not limited to the fortunately privileged few like themselves or they don’t understand it at all. Because “It is the 21st Century in America and being a female is the best *insert sketched heart*” or “I can own up to the mistakes I’ve made in my life and don’t have to blame them on the completely fictional Patriarchy.” or even “I love men complimenting me” are not valid enough reasons to dismiss a movement which has historical roots and finds relevance today too.
The movement, which is aimed at achieving equal rights and opportunities for women, started out focusing on legal issues, primarily on gaining women’s suffrage. The second wave of feminism broadened the movement to issues of sexuality, reproductive rights and violence against women. Modern Feminism, also recognised as third wave feminism, is tackling issues which are less specific in nature yet no less important. Third wave feminism is more inclusive than the first two because it recognises that women are of many colours, ethnicities, nationalities, religions and cultural backgrounds while the first two waves were criticised for being limited to just the issues of middle-class white women It also focuses on portrayal of women in popular culture and rights of the LGBT community. The third wave ideology recognises the fluid notion of gender identities and allows women to define feminism on their own terms.
Most of the criticism attached with Modern Feminism comes because of the so called ‘radical’ feminists who have strong opinions and often stretch the definition of gender equality to unfair levels. Unfortunately, this is the kind of feminist ideology that is most visible due to the sensationalism-hungry means of expression and this skewed ideology is what drives the majority opinion about (and against) Feminism. In reality, most Feminists are not men-hating or victim-playing people who are out burning bras and organising pity-parties. They are people who recognise the importance of equality and have either been wronged by skewed traditional gender-roles themselves or realise that there are others in the world who are being wronged by them and want this to end. We are all, as rational and well-meaning human beings, Feminists in our own way because Feminism, by its very definition, is about equality. It’s about recognising and fighting the stereotypical and confining gender roles the society is conditioned to, which harm not just women but men as well.
That’s the point of it- it can be great for you to be a female in the 21st century America, but the world’s not limited to America and one does not just have first world problems. You can own up to the mistakes you’ve made in your life but Patriarchy is definitely not fictional and you are either unaware of what it is or privileged enough to not have gone through it. You can love men complimenting you but those compliments should be on your terms and shouldn’t make you feel breached. Feminism doesn’t shun traditional gender roles. It doesn’t want women to not be home-makers or have families. Women should make decisions about being in those positions themselves and not under duress of a patriarchal society that demands it.
That is what it boils down to- achieving equal power to do things and not have them done to us.
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