What exactly is feminism? As defined by the Merriam Webster Dictionary, it is the theory of the political, economic, and the social equality of the sexes. Feminism was a term used for the first time in France during the 1870’s as féminisme, which means women’s freedom. There are six feminism categories, in which any given feminist movement can fall under.
Firstly, there is social feminism which is the term used to describe feminist movements that advocate for social rights and special accommodations for women.
Secondly, there is liberal feminism which is an individualistic form of feminism which focuses on women’s ability to maintain equality through their own choices.
Thirdly, there is cultural feminism which is the ideology of female nature attempting to revalidate undervalued female attributes.
Fourthly, there is socialist feminism which is a branch of feminism that focuses on the liberation from women’s oppression through economic and political movements.
Fifthly, there is radical feminism that calls for the radical reordering of society to eliminate all male superiority.
Sixthly, and finally, there is ecofeminism which is the ideology that the split between nature and culture can only be healed by feminine instinct.
Ideal representations of feminism within society can be seen in the pro-choice movement. The pro-choice movement is advocating for a women’s right to an abortion, having readily available birth control options, as well as promoting sexual education. This movement speaks to the fact that during pregnancy, women’s bodies undergo countless changes and stresses, because of this she should have the right to decide whether or not to take these on. Specifically, the movement highlights the belief that men should not have a say in what happens to the woman’s body.
A historical example of feminism is the movement that protested women’s right to vote, the women’s suffrage. Many women protested, and petitioned, in order to gain the right to vote. Their goal was to become equals alongside men in politics,highlighting the belief that men should not be the only persons with a say. This was followed by the famous five who emphasized the need for women’s roles in politics. Five Albertan women approached the court and advocated for women’s right to be elected into government, drawing focus to not only a woman’s right to vote, but also their right to hold a position of power.
There are many misuses of the feminist movement in today’s society. A large one would be radical feminists who use the movement as an excuse for female superiority. This can be seen in the radical feminist belief that there should be “women’s only spaces.” The term “women’s only spaces” refers to areas and public places that can only be accessed by females. There is also people who misunderstand the term feminism in it self, they see it as a movement strictly for females. This misunderstanding can be held by both genders. Females use this misunderstanding as a way to gain power and special treatment to make up for the years of oppression. Men may use this misunderstanding as a reason to not become a feminist. Examples of these misunderstandings can be seen all around you. For example, the belief that all men should open the door for women, that men should pay for the meal on a first date, and that men should give up their seat on transit for a female. These examples of how a misinformed feminist may use the movement to gain special treatment.
I personally identify as a feminist. My ideologies are based around the fundamentals of equality, eliminating female oppressions, and discrimination. I believe that all women should be held to the same standards as men but also rewarded the same as men. Furthermore I believe that women should not be held to standards as a result of men’s actions. The most relevant example of this in my own life is the standards regarding a woman’s dress. Currently there is an expectation that women are to dress modestly, especially at night to avoid rape. I believe that women should be able to dress how ever they want to and not be scared to walk around, instead men should be taught not to rape and discriminate. I firmly believe that women should not have to do something because of a man’s actions.
Another example of this can be seen especially in high schools in regards to sexual activity. As it stands right now, women are expected to be in a committed relationship before having sex, and men can freely sleep around with whomever and suffer no consequences. Women should be allowed to freely be sexually active without the negative effects, such as being called a slut. Double standards also come from schools in the form of dress codes. Personally, I view dress codes as discriminatory towards women as most of the guidelines set are directed at women. For example, once on a casual day I was wearing shorts and a tank top and a teacher confronted me and told me I needed to change because I was “distracting the boys with my outfit.” I personally felt attacked here and that I should not have had to dress a certain way because my male peers can not show decent levels of respect towards my body.
I did not choose to be born a girl, and I did not choose the body I was given, however I do get to choose how I clothe that body in whatever makes me feel good about myself. In conclusion, I personally believe that women should not be held to double standards, nor oppressed in any way, and should be viewed as equals in every ones eyes.