My parents separated when I was still at my tender early age, and for a long time I and my sister lived with our mother whom after even separating; was still under my father's control. Whenever we wanted to travel with my sister, our mother had to ask for permission from our absent father. The idea of having to ask for everything from him pained her so much and on many occasions, she couldnt hold her tears back. I remember the time my sister and I had to sooth her by comforting and wiping her tears. She was fed up; I could see it from her eyes. But since she was a woman she always had to comply according to the patriarchal society we were living in. Nothing ever came to my mind on how I could do to help out my mother in the situation that she was in owing to the factor that I was also raised in the same society where women are given a second class status. It was not until one of my friends who is a strong feminist persuaded me to watch a talk by Chammanda on TED talk. This marked a turning point in my life; I chose to be feminist so that I can fight for equality in the society, if not to save my mothers situation
Immoderate, fanatic and man hater are the terms I usually encounter when I make clear my stand that am a feminist. It is more like being a feminist is synonymous with being someone who wants to establish a womens rule by suppressing the men a woman who hates men. Most people in the first place do not understand what feminism is all about and therefore do not even realize how important it is. Feminism is all about advocating and reaching for equal rights and opportunities for women and allowing them to have full control over their lives as well as their bodies as long as they do not infringe the rights of others in any way whatsoever (McElroy, 2002). This is so when a woman is harassed sexually and made an object of abuse in so many cultures.
Additionally, feminism is also about empowering the young girls and women. Being a feminist does not limit ones sexuality and in this case, a feminist can be positive to sex or anti-sex; they can be straight, heterosexual, bisexual, a gay or even a lesbian (Rudy, 2001). Men can also become feminists since anyone who is advocating for equal opportunities for both men and women is a feminist. Some feminists would always dress up in a tomboyish manner while others love dressing up as other women or even in ultra-feminine code. Therefore, it is obvious that there is no single stereotype that all the feminists could fit into.
Despite the fact that there are quite a number of branches of feminism, the main aim of most these divisions is equality for both men and women. For instance; Marxist feminists, were allied to the philosophical and economic theories of Karl Marx who showed how the working class is being used by the advocates of capitalism. They viewed this as responsible for womens oppression and the second class status. Post-modern feminists, on the other hand, accept the woman/man binary as the outstanding force of categorization in the society, they criticize the societal structure and order of domination especially in aspects of patriarchy. And lastly, liberal feminists hold that freedom is an essential value and that none should be denied of the same, they insist on freedom of women in the society (Smith). They conceive freedom as living a life of own choice and being the author of own environment. All the above differ in the way they approach the issue, but their eventual goals are equality and freedom for women in the respective societies.
Radical feminism is most probably considered as the extremely stereotyped and negatively regarded strand of feminism. While there is a notion that all the radical feminists are fanatics who hate men, this is not the case but a blind generalization. It is true that there are some extremists who want matriarchy and other who might be having a deep intrinsic dislike against men, but these few do not signify the popular radical feminists. Rather they are sycophants and not focused to the feminist cause. Simply what a radical feminist is, is a radical change which is characterized by a complete restructuring of the society from the outdated patriarchal one to a democratic one (Rudy, 2001).They do not want equality at the expense of men but equality with men.
And while some other radical feminists fear dynamism, feminism in its true meaning is dynamic.
Over time feminism has attracted a lot of negative reactions, and mostly the reason behind this is ignorance. It is as if the society has made its own feminists who are always complaining women who hate men and have nothing to do with them (Smith). There is a general ignorance among quite a good number of society members who are ignorant regarding the cause of feminism and hence have misinterpreted it by common stereotypes. Often, people accuse radical feminists of being rough and ugly women whom their motives are always hostile. Telling someone that you are a feminist would always be made by a reaction that why do you want to kill men? feminism has no aim of destroying men it is all about doing away with sexism and patriarchy.
In the present age, women in industrialized nations have the right to work and to vote in elections and referendums; the question is why feminism? many people believe that gender equality has already been achieved and well established, and that it is only for the poor nations which are still at the infancy stage of development that still struggle with patriarchy. If only this were the case, it is doubtable if there is any nation that has complete equality to all its citizens based on their sexes. For instance in America, what prevails are the double standards and gender inequality (Gunew, 2012). Women are allowed to work but still there are pay gaps based on both gender and race; among these are sexual harassments in the places of work and other evils.
Even in this century, women in many countries are still subjected to domestic abuse, girl child infanticide and ritualistic killings with their governments watching it happen without taking any measure to curb them. The worst part of this is when lots of issues affecting women and girls negatively are not given attention, and a good number of them are more often reported in a refined version which renders the victims helpless from their oppressors (Gunew,2012). For example in higher learning institutions are reported as cases of misconduct for the sake of saving the reputation of the institution. In this case, the rape victim is blamed for perpetuating the rape. Instead of accusing the rapist, the owners of the society accuses the victim of misappropriate dressing at the time of the rape. For an ordinary ignorant citizen, this is just an issue which over time will be forgotten, but feminists look past the gravity of such a case by playing a crucial role in exposing them in a new dimension which always yields justice for the victim.
Most but not all feminists support the Lesbian, Gay, and Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) rights and in this case, two famous movements can be linked to it. LGBT activists and feminists are against forcing gender roles engineered by cultural traditions and male domination. In societies with patriarchal structures, the women, and the LGBT community are often subjected to stereotyping, prejudice and harassment. One very important thing to feminism is the intersectionality concept which helps in investigating how various forms of discrimination such as sexism and racism are linked (Rudy, 2001). Generally, feminism is about fighting for equality for all the members of the society regardless of their gender, race, sexuality, class or their ability.
It is entirely the desire of anyone that there was no need for feminism; not that feminism has no importance but because it should not have emerged to be that necessary. In the world that feminists want, women are valued as themselves as it is to men. When women can walk in the city streets without being harassed, when their male counterparts in the workplace are given equal pay. It is when men become real husbands and fathers. When couples share the house chores and girls would be given a treatment, they deserve as humans and not as sex objects. With this, there would be no reason to fight for the human rights as it at the moment. Before the society attains such a level, feminism will still be significant and relevant.
Rudy, Kathy. "Radical Feminism, Lesbian Separatism, And Queer Theory". Feminist Studies 27.1 (2001): 190. Web.
Smith, A. M. "Neoliberalism, Welfare Policy, And Feminist Theories Of Social Justice: Feminist Theory Special Issue: `Feminist Theory And Welfare'". Feminist Theory 9.2 (2008): n. pag. Web.
Gunew, Sneja. Feminist Knowledge (RLE Feminist Theory): Critique And Construct. 2012. Print.
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