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What is Feminism? Or more accurately, What Isn't It?

Updated on February 8, 2015

Traditional gender roles....

Important Women in This Era of Feminism:

Blackwell, Elizabeth (born:1821-died:1910). Elizabeth was America's first woman doctor, admitted to New York's Geneva College as a joke in 1847. She overcame taunts and prejudice at medical school where she earned her degree in 1849, graduating at the top of her class. After American hospitals refused to hire her, she opened a clinic in New York City.

Anthony, Susan B. (born:1820-Died: 1906). An American suffragist, Anthony worked for the woman suffrage movement. She lectured on women's rights and organized a series of conventions on the issue. She collected signatures for a petition to grant women the right to vote and to own property. She registered to vote in Rochester, New York, on November 1, 1872. Four days later, she and fifteen women voted in the presidential election, all sixteen women were arrested three weeks later, however it was only Anthony that was brought before a court.

Wollstonecraft, Mary (born: 1759, died:17-97). Wollstonecraft was a writer born in England. She wrote many engaging books including : `The Female Reader' (1789), and `A Vindication of the Rights of Women' (1792), which challenged Rousseau's ideas of female inferiority, is a classic of liberal feminism.

Where did it begin?

Traditional feminist values, these are three words that seem irrelevant in postmodern society, where not only have the lines between feminism and equality been blurred but a gender blur, a loss of distinction between two sexes has also been taking place. Where once women were considered fragile, incapable of making important decisions and in need of care and support, men were the bread winners, the head of the household and dominant in the nearly every aspect of life, now we are living in an age where these two, once distinct roles, have becoming so blurred there is no such thing as a one gender job. That is all due to the work of early feminism, where women took a stand to say that they were equal to men, that they deserved to vote and work and control their own futures, beyond that of the family home.

As British suffragist Rebecca West famously said, "Feminism is the radical notion that women are people." so, feminism was the commitment to achieving complete equality of the sexes. It did however take some time. They were finally given the right to vote, to have an input into the household and to divorce their husbands if it was a destructive marriage. When women were granted the right the work, they were still below men, taking in lower wages for having done the same work, only allowed to take specific positions in corporations never too high up the ladder. This did not last, as every movement this important, it kept going until women were offered high positions, equal pay and were finally in a position where they could complain and more importantly, be heard, about sexist discrimination in the workplace.

Radical feminists

What Has it Become?

For the average modern woman, feminism is dead. It is no longer about equality of sexes. What we are now seeing is a coming together of much more aggressive ideals, the ones that come to mind being the extermination of men, eugenics programs, violence towards men and a totally misandric view of men. We have seen women wearing more and more masculine clothes too, begging the question of whether these women are subconsciously and figuratively wearing the trousers of men as a way of becoming equal to them. However, as men too are increasingly wearing more feminine clothes that theory comes apart at the seams, as it is hard to see why anyone would want to walk in the shoes of a woman, if anything, heels are too sore, make it slower to walk and cause constant tripping, All jokes aside though, it is something that Freud spoke of when attempting to understand lesbians. He said that Lesbians are simply jealous of the phallis they lack, however he did not say the same about gay men, instead theorizing that it was a psychological disease for men that they could cure. You couldn't, apparently, cure jealousy of the phallis however.

So where is the feminist movement now? What does it hope to achieve? The answer to that is more complex than one could think. This being because there are now so many fields of feminism, it is no longer a movement, but rather a group of individualized ones that want different things.

Neo-feminism describes an emerging view of women as becoming empowered through the celebration of attributes perceived to be conventionally feminine. It glorifies womanly features and essence over equality. Many see this as a confine for woman that stereotypes their roles while simultaneously eroding the freedoms women gained through early feminism.

Radical feminism is a perspective within feminism that focuses on patriarchy as a system of power that organizes society into a complex series of relationships based on the assertion that male dominance oppresses women. It also aims to challenge and overthrow patriarchy by opposing standard gender roles and oppression of women and calls for a radical reordering of society.

Third Wave Feminism began in the 1990s. The movement arose as a response to the apparent failures of the movements created by second-wave feminism during the 1960s to 1980s. Third-wave feminism attempts to challenge the second wave of feminism's definitions of femininity, which often emphasized the middle class woman to much, leaving the rest out. Third wave seeks to make known the fact that women are of all ages, race, religion and ethnicity.

What is feminism:

Gender equality:

Fake Ideologies of Modern Feminism and Hypocrisy:

There have been some feminist issues brought to the forefront in the past few years which has been considered both feminist and anti-feminist. This is the face of Jane Austen which has been printed on the British £10 note. Now while some have said that this is a triumph for the movement, having the face of such an important person in women's classic literature printed on money, others have said that it is a false victory. Having your face printed on money really means very little when you weren't even the first choice. The worldwide success also known as '50 Shades' has too come to the forefront of the feminist dilemma as it portrays a woman being dominated by a man who buys her beautiful things in return for being able to do anything he wants with her. While most see this as completely anti-feminist (the protagonist goes along with the arrangement, which any self respecting feminist would not do) however, there have been feminist arguments made about the book too. For one, it teaches women that any sexual desire they may have is not wrong, women are sexual beings too with fantasies of their own, and they should not be afraid to express that. Another argument that can be made is the fact that the protagonist actually fights for what she wants (or doesn't want) in the arrangement. By saying she wasn't comfortable doing something, she is taking back some control of the situation and saying that no, you can not do anything you want to me, you'll do what I allow you.

It appears that many feminists are happy with false victories for the movement, as women now have the same, if not more, rights than men, it may be said that they have little more to fight for. Instead of hoping to achieve equality in all areas of life and the world, they are inadvertently separating themselves yet again. By singling out men and becoming prejudiced towards them, a rift is making its way across the lines of equality for both genders. This isn't to say that every feminist feels this way, in fact society as a whole has become too tippy-toey around women in the sense that now men are at a loss in particular areas of society. For example, a woman automatically has more parental rights over a child than a man does. A woman is always believed in cases of sexual abuse / assault, men are usually not taking seriously in these same matters.

Hypocrisy is rampant in within society for women, and it is mainly due to feminist ideals. That is not to say I don't agree with the traditional values of feminism, I simply don't agree with some of the newer ideals that came from it.

For instance: Feminism says that women should be treated the same as men, yet some women still want doors opened for them, chairs pulled out for them etc.

Feminism says that women should not be viewed as objects purely existing for the entertainment and satisfaction of men. Yet thousands of women went to see the movie 'Magic Mike' where a man was sexually objectified and yet the woman saw no problem with this.

stereotypes: the worst thing to happen to gender!

Who's it for:

The sad truth about feminism is it really only exists to help women. Although that was something necessary in the past, the knock on effect it has had on the rest of society has indeed hindered any progress the movement made. Men are now coming out saying that feminism wants to exterminate all men, that feminists only care about themselves and not issues that involve everyone, but the truth is, it is a movement specifically for women, not a movement for both genders. If there was never a need for feminism in the first place then maybe this separation of the sexes would not have happened, yet it has, and men are at a loss. However, just like it was up to females to organize their own freedom from sexism and the patriarchal society, men too must find their own way out of the same patriarchal system that says men are brave, heroic objects of desire, or portable bank machines, or possible rapists...(one of the more aggressive forms of sexism which says that all men are possibly violent and abusive). These are obviously not true, like it also wasn't true that women were only comfortable in the kitchen or at home with children. These are both obviously false statements, but that doesn't mean that some people out there see them as fact.

These are, however, generalized stereotypes that both gender are to blame for. Women are to blame for saying that all men are pigs, and men are to blame for saying that a women's place is in the home, or that she can get anything she wants because she uses her body. These are the things that feminism should be trying to overcome, these generalizations, that may seem unimportant to some, but are still hugely overactive in society. Women have left the kitchen, they have taken on the same as men in daily life and now, after everything that has been achieved, they are called feminists, a now derogatory term used to define a woman who wont let anything get in her way, including men.

There have been many feminist movements over the past few years that have gotten a negative response from men around the world. One of the more influential was the slut walk. A hugely important walk that was started when a policeman in Canada told a mass of women in a college campus that they should try not to provoke rape. Women everywhere got together for these walks to portray that no matter what a person wears, it does not provoke rape or harassment of any kind. People should have the freedom to wear what they want without insinuating they want to be sexually abused, which is exactly what the policeman suggested.

It might not be for everyone, it might not fit perfectly in (post)modern society, it might not be affecting the world the way the first feminists hoped, but it does mean something to some people, its still hugely important as a historical revolution, and it still fights for the rights of women. It doesn't mean that it should be seen as a threat, or of something to be used in derogatory terms.

To finish, It is important to note that men and women are not equal to day and night. That would suggest that we are wholly opposite in every way, night is dark and governed by the moon, day is light and controlled by the sun. No, man and woman is more like a coin. Female is one side while male is the other. It doesn’t matter which side is which, neither is more important, what is important, is you can't have a one sided coin…..

What do you think of feminism?

This poll uses actual quotes from around the internet.

See results


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    • fpherj48 profile image


      22 months ago from Beautiful Upstate New York

      Uh-Oh....Die hard Boomer here. Should I leave? LOL...I never have much luck joining in these conversations. While Gloria Steinhem was on her soap box, I was choosing the best soap to use on diapers....CLOTH diapers~~e-gad!

      But the good news is my sister and I were raised by the most fabulous-well-before-her-time-feminist, ever. I know that we learned well and continually and by the way, with the support and encouragement of our Dad. Certainly in our home, throughout our upbringing we were exposed to a marriage of obvious equals in pretty much all ways. I can still recall the way my female peers would remark with surprise, "Your Mom WORKS?" and to be fair, I know my sister & I never gave it a thought that all mothers did not! The other shocker was, your Dad cooks and sews?? Eww. LOL. What can I say? we were the somewhat rare ducks, but looking back it was an ideal experience for us.

      As for me as the independent individual I became as an adult, I'm fairly assertive, confident and opinionated and for a very long time I had to be reminded that "men" found me intimidating, too which I privately thought, "Oh well, too bad."

      Frankly, I've not paid much serious attention to the ups & downs of the Feminist movement, That being said, I firmly support my sisters & the mission where it's fair, just and appropriate. Of course we are equal and must see to it that every man, woman and child understands & respects this, without question.

      YOU are an excellent writer! Have a great week-end. Peace, Paula

    • Mango Muse profile image

      Jen Dotter 

      4 years ago

      A very straight-forward and thorough history lesson, that I think the entire world could stand to read. Ignorance is not bliss, it's just ignorance. Which leads to stereotypes and discriminatory concepts and practices. Thank you for this very informative, unbiased post.

    • belleart profile imageAUTHOR


      4 years ago from Ireland

      Seasons greeting, I'm not sure how you see feminism as something totally separate to gender equality, maybe you would like to elaborate? I've written many hubs on the feminist dilemma and studied it quite in depth and it seems to correlate directly with how men view and have viewed women. That's not to say it has everything to do with the male gender, there are definitely other issues and subjects that impact it, but its certainly a big part of it.

    • Seasons Greetings profile image

      Laura Brown 

      4 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      You seem to make feminism mostly about men. I don't think it really has much to do with them at all.

    • profile image


      5 years ago


    • belleart profile imageAUTHOR


      5 years ago from Ireland

      Vitallani-you're absolutely right in your definition of the term, unfortunately not a lot of people recognize feminism as searching for equality.

      Thanks for the comment :)

    • Vitallani profile image

      Bryony Harrison 

      5 years ago from UK

      Fascinating article. My short definition of Feminism is the bringing of equality between men and women, but you're right, Feminism gets twisted in so many ways.

    • profile image


      5 years ago



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