What is Feminism? The movement is more than a century old – several of its waves happened during this time, and women seem to have achieved a lot.
For example, the right to vote in elections, to give birth or not to give birth (however, not everywhere), or to wear short skirts (also not everywhere). Unfortunately, in many countries, women are still afraid to talk about this topic or it is not acceptable.
Is feminism when women are more important than men?
Not at all, do not confuse feminism and matriarchy. Feminism is a movement for women’s rights, against gender discrimination. This means that women should not have less political, economic and civil rights simply because they are women; and their rights must be respected in practice. The essence of feminism is well reflected in the famous quote of the journalist Mary Shear: “The radical notion that women are people.” What feminism is definitely not, is “a movement that forces women to abandon their husbands, kill children, engage in witchcraft, destroy capitalism and become lesbians”.
What equality can we talk about if women and men are biologically different?
The biological differences between the female and male people, of course, are. But this does not mean that men and women should have different rights and freedoms – just like people with different skin colors should have the same rights. The presence or absence of any organs or physical abilities does not make one of the sexes better, does not automatically give their owners more privileges and does not mean, for example, that they should make decisions in the family or receive more money with the same professional qualifications.
In addition, the biological sex and its social perception, that is, gender, are different things that are not always same. The attempt to prove the superiority of men over women with the help of biology is based on the idea that power is associated with force, especially physical. However, the difference in height, weight and strength between men themselves sometimes is greater than between the average man and woman. So the point here is still not what roles nature supposedly awarded us, but the habit of identifying with men some traits (courage, authority, decisiveness), and with women – others (patience, weakness, caring).
Why change the traditions that have existed for centuries? Let men do “masculine” and women do “feminine” and everyone will be happy!
Firstly, not everyone is happy. And if men are less concerned with the current state of affairs, then women still want more. Secondly, throughout the twentieth century, the roles of men and women have changed – and more often only because of the initiative of women. Take at least suffrage, for which suffragists have fought since the end of the 19th century.
Thanks to this, women in the USA got the right to vote in the elections in 1920, and in the UK in 1928 (the first were New Zealand women, in 1893, the last women of Saudi Arabia, who voted for the first time in 2015). But once participation in the political life of the country was considered a woman’s affair – as, for example, military service (now women can serve in 38 countries, including Russia). So we have to admit that our ideas about “masculine” and “feminine” are caused by the course of history and gender stereotypes, and not by some unshakable order of things.
Why then aren’t all women feminists?
Women, of course, do not have to be feminists. Feminism does not have the task of imposing anything on women; on the contrary, one of his goals is to give them the opportunity to independently choose a life scenario and have conditions for its implementation. For example, so that society does not dictate how a woman should or should not behave, give birth to her – or have an abortion. Moreover, it is quite possible to be a housewife, wife, mother and feminist. The main thing is that this should be a woman’s personal and conscious choice (the truth is, the question arises of how free such a choice can be under current conditions; especially if the family and society insist that the main events in a woman’s life are wedding and childbirth).
Choosing the path of equality is not so simple when you have less than not only cultural, but also financial conditions for independence. It is more difficult for women to make a career in certain areas, and around the world when they receive significantly less men. According to some estimates, the salaries of men and women in the same positions will be equal only by 2059.
Do not forget that some women support sexism. The opinion that “all women are fools”, the desire to communicate only with men and distance themselves from other women (“I’m not like that”) – this is the attitude towards women as people of “lower quality” inherent in the patriarchal system. And this attitude, paradoxically, can be found in women themselves.
In the end, many women do not want to call themselves feminists, although they share the ideas of equality. Just because feminism is often considered marginal, and feminists are untidy, aggressive or unhappy in their personal lives.
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Can men be feminists?
Of course, men can share feminist views. The question is whether a man can be called a feminist.If we talk about the movement for gender equality, then there is a place for men in it. It is not only about the rejection of discrimination against women: after all, patriarchal stereotypes interfere with men themselves. They also play a limited role (“earner”, “stronger sex”) with clearly defined characteristics of a “real” man. For example, in this patriarchal picture, a man does not have the right to strong feelings or weakness (“guys don’t cry”, “don’t be like a girl”), should not be engaged in “female” affairs like cooking or raising a child, and it is better not to choose “non-male” profession (for example, a manicurist or synchronized swimmer).
What has feminism achieved?
Suffrage, higher education, the ability to control childbearing, the right to work and own real estate, engage in politics or football, and hold leadership positions – most of what women can now do is somehow the result of their struggle for their rights. The following rights can be attributed to results of feminist:
- Feminists have achieved equal suffrage. Now women can elect and be elected.
- Also, women can now apply for any education in any specialty, and no one will stop them.
- Women can occupy leadership positions, and in government departments too.
What then do feminists continue to fight for? Have they not already achieved everything?
Unfortunately, no. In addition to the wage gap between women and men, domestic violence, which not everyone considers a crime, and rape, which is often blamed not on rapists, but on the victim, remains a big problem in many countries. There are patriarchal customs like forced marriages, honor killings or female genital mutilation (e.g. cutting off the clitoris to suppress sexuality), prohibiting or condemning abortion, sexual exploitation of women, and so on.
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