What does it mean to be a feminist?

Women's March on Gender Equality, New York City, New York 1970

What IS Feminism?

Feminism (noun): the advocacy of women's rights on the grounds of political, social, and economic equality to men. Feminism is the belief that women should be held to the same respect level and power level as men. As said in an article by the Huffington Post "Feminism is a movement towards equal society for male, female and transgender people, without discrimination.". Feminism is constantly misrepresented by those who do not know the correct definition of what it means to be a feminist. Many people believe that feminism is the belief that women, as a gender, are superior to men. This is not feminism, the is misandry. Misandry is the overall belief that women are superior to men in all aspects, just as misogyny is the overall belief that men are superior to women in all aspects. It is commonly believed, by the under informed, that by calling yourself a feminist you are labeling yourself as a "man hater" and being "against chivalry" when the fact is, by describing yourself as a feminist you are supporting equality of of genders.

What it means to be a feminist in america.

The prominence of feminism and feminist activism in America has been proven to come and go in waves. The first wave of feminism in America occurred in late July of 1848 at the Seneca Falls Convention, the first women's rights convention, held in a chapel in New York. Around 300 women and men were said to have been in attendance of the convention, and at the end of the convention sixty-eight women and thirty-two men signed the Declaration of Sentiments and Resolutions. This declaration was said to be a "grand movement for attaining the civil, social, political, and religious rights of women." by The North Star, published by Frederick Douglass, an African-American social reformer, abolitionist, and writer for the North Star, an anti-slavery newspaper. This beginning would eventually lead up to what we know now to be the Women's Suffrage movement, moving to have the right to vote secured for women, among many other important social issues such as birth control and employment.

Later in the 1960's, the second wave began, and movements were made for women to be seen more as equals to men and be seen as more than just a "home maker" such as often portrayed during this time in America. Increased pressure for women to be allowed to have more employment options as well as equal pay for women who were working the same jobs as men but being paid less. This is where the term "Wage Gap" is born from, referring to the higher payment level to men for the same amount of work as women. Around a decade later, in the 1970's, steps were made for women in the cases of divorce and widowing and also the Fair Housing Act, making sex discrimination in cases of housing illegal.

The third wave started in the 1990's and is still continuing on today. This wave focuses on the emphasis of universal female identity and sexualization of the female gender and female body in today's society. This wave also transmits ideas of gender, gender roles, womanhood, beauty, and sexuality, among other things. Female power icons were sought after to back this third wave, giving the younger generations of females the idea that it must be okay yo stand up for yourself if your female idol believes you can.

what it means to be a feminist in a racially oppressive culture.

The one thing that feminists in america seem to lack in is the recognition that it is not just one race, i.e white, of the female gender that needs support in gender equality. Female people of color tend to be left behind by the feminist movement, lead predominantly by white women of the middle-class and upper-middle class. As said in an article by Janet Bloomfield "I’ve argued before that feminism as a political ideology only caters to white women who work outside the home for wages". This can be seen, in many ways, as correct.  It is true that the white woman, who earns 78% as much as a white man, does often leave behind the women of color, such as the black women, earning 64%, and the Hispanic women, earning 54%.

For generations it has always been behind closed doors that the real accomplishments that are so often taken credit for by the white women, would not have been possible without the colored women. Both now and back when there was slavery it was always the colored women who was doing all of the hard and back breaking work that was always taken credit for by the white women. In white culture there has forever been the habit of seeing the colored races as "problems" that we need to "fix", such characterized by imperialism and colonization and termed "The White Man's Burden". "It really sucks that whenever we talk in the media about women of color, it’s usually along the lines of poor, illiterate, uneducated, exploited." Janet Bloomfield says. Truthfully we have always assumed that women and men of color are so below the white culture, and so incomparable in intellect to the white culture, that they are not capable of reform without our help.

Maybe this is why we tend to leave the women of color behind when we are fighting for our gender rights, forgetting that despite their different skin color they are still female and still oppressed. The white culture doesn't know how to fix a problem and they don't want to be shown up by any other culture so what do we do? Oppress them once again. Being a women of color in a racially and gender oppressive culture is the white man killing two birds with one stone. They can oppress firstly because of the pigmentation of skin and secondly because of the gender of the person. So in all reality, the one's that need to be stood up for most are the ones that are being left behind.

Women's Suffrage in the USA?

Before that?

Parting thoughts.

The best feminist inspired music of today.

By creating this project it has opened my eyes to the different views that society has of women, and women of color. Feminism is by no matter a fight that should be stopped but it is also in no matter a fight that can go on the way it is. We, as feminists, must remember that if we ask for equality of gender than we need to make sure that we are talking the whole gender and not just parts of the gender with a certain skin color. It is important that we realize that we cannot leave each other behind and be successful. In a movement such as this one we are given the opportunity to all come together, despite age, gender, race, religion, language, nationality, etc. for a common cause. We should make sure that of our goal is to end together, as equals, than we must start of believing that we are all equals.

Comment Stream

2 years ago

Caroline, I love your tackk! Finally us females are represented. I also love the music videos and all the history that goes into the topic!

2 years ago

I'm still mad, though, that you introduced me to the song "God Made Girls". I'm going to go listen to some Dolly Parton to wash that drivel out of my brain. Blargh.