What does Feminism really mean?

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I want to start by saying this post is based completely on my own opinions. Topics like feminism always make me feel on edge when brought into the conversation as they often result in tense words, ending in an agreement to disagree. But this is not how it should be. The ability to discuss feminism should be open to everyone and anyone. It should not be something people feel uncomfortable about.

I asked why I felt like this; why I had begun to avoid conversations about being a feminist and become reluctant to openly tell people I am a feminist. I realised that it wasn't because I wasn't a feminist, as believe me I am, but that my definition of what it entails to be a feminist is very different to what a lot of others.

For me, I have been brought up to believe that to be a feminist you have to want equal rights for everyone. As a friend of mine said it is for men and women to have 'an equal standing in society as well as professionals,'. There is no want for the superiority of women over men or believing that we no longer need men in the world. Which I have to say is one of the reasons I, personally, will not be buying a future is female t-shirt. I am not saying that these t-shirts don't stand for a good cause but I feel that they are easily be misunderstood and support this definition of feminism.



I ran a twitter poll to see how many other people felt the same way. Whilst the result of the poll shows, for the most part, people to have the same idea of feminism as I do, I did get a few comments from people who say that they themselves believe in equality but often get the impression that others see feminism as a group of man hating women. I just asked my brother if he would call himself a feminist, as men can be feminist too, and he said no. Why? Because there are so many different meanings to that word now there is no way to say what it actually means anymore and he doesn't want to be labelled as something negative.

We have a problem with stereotyping people throughout society which is something we really need to stop. I think that is easier said than done and, sometimes, it is an innate thing we don't even notice we are doing. But if everyone makes some effort to stop forming our opinions of the first thing we hear and instead researching more to understand what they are talking about. I find a lot of people who label themselves as a feminist believes in equality but are immediately judged by others, almost shamed for being one, because of the other more extreme feminists out there which people assume is everyone.

What a lot of people are forgetting are those who don't shout their opinions from the roof tops and use more quiet ways of putting their point across (i.e writing blog posts...). Instead, people should wait before they judge anyone calling themselves as a feminist. Don't get me wrong, you may meet some extreme feminists who do not believe in the same things you do but that will happen in a world where everyone is different.

Looking back at the first wave of feminism, starting in the late nineteenth centres to the early twentieth, the aim was to gain political equality and the right to vote. Women believed they had as much to say, and as much of a right to say it, as the men so they fought for that. That is something I will always be grateful for. It wasn't just women who marched either, there were some men who believed in this too which is often forgotten.

The second wave, from the 1960s to 1980s, focused more on the sexual and reproductive rights, as well as passing the Equality Right Amendment. The wave involved more ethnic groups all fighting for equality in society for everyone.

With not a huge gap between the second and third, which began in the 1990s and some would say is we are still in today, there are a lot of the same aims. Today we are still fighting for complete equal pay and reproductive rights. So through out each wave, the focus has always been the same: equality. However, the term feminism has expanded to take on the meaning of many different things, which is where the confusion and negative image of feminism is coming from.

Margret Atwood in an incredible woman and is often labelled as a feminist writer by others even though she often argues against this. In an interview she had with Emma Watson, she herself stated that there was a lot of confusion and debate about what feminism really means as so many people have different ideas and interpretations.

We have been reading her book, The Handmaids Tale, in class and I am sure a few of you have been watching the TV adaptation which is currently on at the moment. As I haven't watched it yet (I wanted to finish the book first) I can't say if this has been translated through to the show but, in class, we often discuss whether or not the men are just as bad off as the women. In some cases, it is clear the women are in the worst situation, but then when you start looking into it more with certain examples, it becomes less clear who is really coming out the winner, and most likely there is no winner at all. What I have come to see and believe is that The Handmaids Tale is a warning about extremism. It is when we stop allowing other people to have a voice and try to force our own opinion onto everyone else that we stop seeing what is best for everyone. Everyone is entitled to their own opinion and no one should be judged for that.

So really, what does feminism mean? I don't know. I can't tell you what it means for you either. For me, it still means quality for all but it could mean something completely different to the next person. However, instead of on not labelling myself as a feminist, or avoid doing so, as I have in the past, I will make sure they know I believe in equality. We all have to find what it means for ourselves and go on what we belive. So long as you can explain what you belibe and why, how can that be wrong?

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2 comments

  1. I think this was a lovely idea, Kizzi! I agree with you. I am a feminist and I think anyone who is a woman or who loves woman should be as well. I believe in equality and fairness for all no matter what gender or colour. xx

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    1. Thank you for reading and I completely agree with you. Equality needs to be the new way of thinking for all people no matter what they look like. xx

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