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Feminism: Part One
What is feminism?
Dictionary.com defines feminism as "the doctrine advocating social, political, and all other rights of those women equal to those of men, an organized movement for the attainment of such rights for women, or feminine character." Merriam-Webster.com defines feminism as "the belief that men and women should have equal rights and opportunities or the organized activity in support of women's rights and interests." And finally, just for one more definition, urbandictionary.com defines feminism as "a wonderful ideology that depraved misogynists love to hate. (for those of you who don't know, a misogynist is a person who is strongly prejudiced against women)"
A little back story...
Okay, so now that you're thoroughly confused about what feminism is, let me explain why I chose to write about this topic and why it's going to take me three different posts to cover it.
Being a young twenty-something who attends a liberal arts college near a large, metropolitan city and a member of both a sorority and fraternity, I come in contact with a large amount of people on a daily basis. I may not be close personal friends with all of them, but I am friends with them on Facebook as that is the social norm of these days. Since it's summer and I have nothing else to do with my time, I spend a lot of my time scrolling down my news feed, looking at what people are posting. Lately, I've noticed a trend of people posting things for gender equality and feminism. I figured that I should be an informed citizen and learn all about what exactly this "new" movement is.
The first time I decided that I wanted to learn what feminism is, I made the mistake of posting a public status and letting people have at it. I ended up getting frustrated with people arguing on my status and not even reading what people were saying after the first three comments. The second time, I made a better decision. I still made a public status asking if someone would talk about feminism with me, but this time, I included that those who were interested should message me. It worked at first, but eventually an argument came about. It wasn't as bad as the first time, but it still happened. However, I wasn't concerned about it because by the time that had happened, I had already been engrossed in conversation with two lovely ladies that I go to college with via Facebook chat who call themselves feminists for a while and was so inspired with what they were sharing with me that I didn't care about the mild drama that was happening in the public sphere.
"Why talk to two college girls instead of finding a real source?" you ask. As an aspiring journalist with a little training under my belt, I've found that the best information comes from people who have interacted with or felt something in regards to what I want to learn or talk about. I would rather get a strong opinion from an unreliable source than a boring opinion from a robot reporter. I did try to get both sides of the argument, pro-feminism and anti-feminism you could say, but the anti-feminists had the attention span that I do and were not as helpful as the pro-feminists. In the end, they did have one good point though, but i'll get to that. Of course, I did still look for reliable sources. The fine ladies that I talked to even provided me with some which helped prove they were more reliable than one would think. These posts will compile the things that I learned from all of the conversations I've had about feminism as well as the research I've done on the same topic.
My definition of feminism
With the three definitions of feminism above, I bet you can see why I had issues understanding exactly what feminism was. It also didn't help that I would see images of women bashing men and the like, leading me to think that all feminism was was misandry (the hatred of men) to move women ahead in the social ladder. I wanted to be informed before I came to a final conclusion on what exactly feminism is and what it means to be a feminist. Within minutes of my conversation with those lovely ladies starting, I came to a conclusion. The definition of feminism is to promote gender equality, having women on the same playing field as men and vise versa. It doesn't promote misandry or misogyny, just equality. My personal definition is the idea that people should treat others as equals, regardless of race, sex, gender, sexuality, anything.
My problem with feminism
I have a lot of problems with feminism, but before you get your undies in a bunch, let me explain.
- the name. The name itself just does not fit what the movement is trying to accomplish. It implies that it is for women and only women when, in fact, it isn't. At all.
- the radicals. As with any social movement, there are radicals. With feminism, most of the radicals are, you guessed it, women. Women who will shame men for holding a door open for them or saying that they look nice in that dress. Anything that a man does for them or to them is wrong. Men can't win. Women who will shove it in your face that they don't shave or wear a bra. They're like the vegans at the party: they have to let you know that they are a vegan, or in this case, a feminist.
- the fact that it is a social movement. I'm getting so fed up with everything needing to be a social movement for any change to happen. For example, Kony2012. Okay, maybe that's a bad example because that was a specific event that happened. My point is that to promote change, not everything has to be a social movement. Feminism has been a thing since women wanted the right to vote. Since then, it has always been a thing. Remember Rosie the Riveter? Women no longer wanting to be in the kitchen and wanting to be in the work force? There are plenty of examples. My question is why does it have to be such a strong social movement now? Why can't people just be nice to everyone and treat everyone as equals without needing any motivation? I know we ALL learned the golden rule in kindergarten "treat others as you would want to be treated"
My problems with feminism addressed
Since I was talking with these lovely ladies about feminism, I figured that I should tell them what I think and let them give me their feedback. I took advantage of the opportunity and discussed with them my issues. so, in the same order, here we go:
- the name. At some point somewhere, the name "feminism" has been addressed and there has been discussion about changing it. It also can't be called humanism because that's a whole other thing (for those wondering, humanism is a Renaissance cultural movement that turned away from medieval scholasticism and revived interest in ancient Greek and Roman thought. So, it's not even relevant to this time period)
- the radicals. There's nothing really to say about them. Radicals are radicals, just like in politics and at dinner parties where there's a vegan.
- the fact that it's a social movement. One of the lovely ladies brought up a very good point when I brought this up. Yes, it has been a social movement for a while, but it just recently EXPLODED! You can't even browse BuzzFeed without coming across something that involves feminism. The lovely lady pointed out to me that it could have exploded recently simply because it has the medium to do so. The internet has made it incredibly easy to talk to people, to find people who feel the same way you do, and find people to back you up on just about anything.
By the end of our conversation, the lovely ladies had covered all of my concerns and answered all of my questions. Overall, they made me feel a lot better about feminism and what it means.
I didn't want to overload you with too much information about feminism (I can only handle so much of it at a time myself). I'm choosing to stop here. I feel like I left you at a good stopping point. However, before you run off too quickly, let me tell you what's coming up for next time.
- I will delve deeper into my conversation with those lovely ladies. I wasn't going to give everything away in the first post!
- Race and sexuality and their rolls in feminism will be discussed.
- I will reveal my final opinion about feminism.
- and for those of you who couldn't care less about feminism, come back in a few days. Once this series is complete, I will explain why I love love LOVE journalism and everything media related.
Kindness and Kittens,