Feminists: What Do Those People Want, Anyway?

 

If you read my first passion blog, I talked about why I wanted to write about feminism. It’s a unspeakably important movement which is often misinterpreted, degraded, and more and more frequently, simply passed off no longer necessary, since women are “already equal” in our society… at least, that’s what we’ve been told.

Given all of these misconceptions of the topic itself, I believe for my first blog, a bit of an introduction is in order.

Feminism has been given many definitions, some more ridiculous and accusatory than others. My personal favorite, which I’ll be referencing throughout my blogs is as follows: “Feminism is a movement to end sexism, sexist exploitation, and oppression” (Hooks, viii). What’s fantastic about this definition is it makes it very clear that the problem feminists are confronting is with sexism, not with men. This makes three things clear immediately.

1) Contrary to urban legend, feminists are not simply a bunch of angry lesbians who hate the entire male gender.

2) Men can also be feminists without betraying their sex.

3) Women themselves can contribute to the very sexist notions which feminists combat.

Feminism then, has never been something just for women. Rather, it is for anyone who believes the sexes should be equal.

So now that you’ve had your crash course on the movement, I still have to explain why it’s relevant to us today.

Unlike what many of us like to believe, women still are nowhere equal to men, particularly in the U.S. Here are two examples of this:

1) Currently, working women make on average thirty-three cents less of every US dollar a man earns in her exact same position. So even when women work as hard as men, it is impossible for them to achieve the same amount. Our society simply doesn’t allow it.

2) 51% of the U.S. population is female, but make up only 17% of our government.  This is the result not only of women being subconsciously discouraged to run for office, but also of our media subtly implying that women are not fit for the job. Over and over again on film and television, woman are portrayed as irrational. We are too emotional, too fragile, to survive in the world of politics. And so women aren’t elected. What this ultimately means is that the decisions being made for that 51% of the population are being made by people who cannot possibly understand the everyday difficulties they  face.

No wonder our country has so many problems. The people who hold enough power to make the laws represent about 6% of our population. (White, male, over 30, educated, born in America).

At any rate, the question remains: What do those feminists want? Well, as a feminist, here’s a sampling of what I’d like to see happen:

-I want women to start being judged for their accomplishments, not their bodies.

-I want women to be welcomed into positions of power, not discouraged or told that having ambition is not “feminine.”

-I want music videos which feature women to show them doing something other than dancing around half-naked.

-I want the glass ceiling to disappear.

-I want the rate of depression in young girls–which has doubled in the past decade–who don’t have the “perfect body” to start lowering.

Most of all, I want people to realize that when it comes to equality of the sexes, there is far more work to be done. That’s what this blog is about. I hope reading it will be both enlightening and inspiring. And maybe we can even make some progress together.

Sources:

Bell Hooks. Feminism is for Everyone. 2000

Bell Hooks. Feminist Theory: From Margin to Center. 1984

Miss Representation. 2011

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6 comments

  1. Great explanation. I believe feminism is misconceived by the mass population presently. Good to hear about the true definition instead of what people think feminism is.

  2. Mahbub Ahsan Rashid

    It was indeed a powerful advertisement that you had chosen and presented quite well too.

  3. Amazing entry, I loved it and completely agreed with everything you said. Young girls are taught from a young age to base their self-value in their appearance and this just needs to stop. I have some friends who suffer from this, and I know the media plays such a huge role in it. Are you aware of the movement #yesallwomen? were you a part of it in any way?

  4. Isabella Frances Teti

    Alex, I don’t think there’s any one cause for why feminism is often cast in a negative light. I believe a main problem is that people don’t know what it actually is. If people understood feminism as a movement to end sexism and oppression, not about angry women fighting to be better than men, I’m sure there would be a lot more people who supported it.
    To answer you’re other question about the largest threat to feminism, there’s been a lot of media output suggesting that women have already achieved equality. On television there’s often a disproportionate number of women in high ranking positions, and young woman are shown that the only way to be powerful is to have a great body, and be desirable to men. In reality, women are nowhere close to being equal, even though we’ve made great strides. But the media (which I could mention is run by a ratio of about 10 men for every 1 woman) seem to be saying that since we’ve achieved so much we can relax and stop trying to work for anything more. It’s been frighteningly effective in killing the movement, until a few years ago. I’ll talk about that more in my later entries.

  5. I’ve noticed a lot of general negativity toward feminism on the internet and see that it has taken on a negative connotation when put in a particular context. Out of curiosity, what do you think is the most responsible for creating this negative view of feminism, and in a broader context, what do you think is the most harmful to the feminist movement?

  6. Thanks for the crash course. You do a great job of explaining feminism to beginners. The statistics are impressive. I also wish more women would join politics. There are exceptions to the norm, and they should be highlighted to bridge the gender gap in future generations. I would love to hear some ideas you have for breaking through that glass ceiling.

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