From the days of the suffragettes to our modern day feminism of tweets, posts and political talks from the most powerful women in the western world, feminism has changed drastically in its aims, so an obvious question to arrive at would be, what is modern day feminism?
Following a blog post I wrote about Justin Trudeau in which I mentioned his open feminism and 50/50 cabinet being a very swift movement towards feminist goals I received a barrage of abuse after only one sentence highlighted my own personal feminism. To me this proved that feminism has in fact become a dirty word.
As a very passionate feminist, it is extraordinary to watch multiple women reject the call to feminism, due to the political use of the term. The fact that in America, women are openly supporting a man who is set to appear in court over claims of raping a 13-year-old girl astounds me. With his history of sexual abuse towards women being openly documented with his own comments to the media, to women on camera and about women in interviews.
It is not irregular for women to receive rape threats from journalists to athletes to women who have taken men to court on rape allegations, following the pathetic sentencing of Brock Turner it is clear that feminism is very much still needed in modern society. With media outlets calling him a “Stanford Swimmer” rather than the rapist he is, after serving only three months in prison it highlights the problem media have with supporting women publicly. His victim was awarded ‘Woman of the Year’ by Glamour magazine in an attempt to highlight this horrible injustice to not just this woman, but also other women who do not come forward for fear of getting abuse, of their rapists/abusers getting only a summer break length of prison time or getting a not guilty verdict.
The main issue with modern feminism is its lack of leadership; it is easy to find famous feminists, people who have spoken about feminism, however there is no one particular group or leader who is showing the aims of modern day feminism. To add to this there have been break away factions, black feminism, white feminism and to a certain degree misandry (dislike of, contempt for, or ingrained prejudice against men).
Many women have pushed away from the term feminism confusing it for misandry; a number of others feel that women in the west do not have the same issues as those in other countries and choose to ignore this and focus on problems facing them. This came to the forefront recently with the burkini ban in France as Muslim women were forced to undress in public, however to a lot of Muslim women western feminists did little to address the issue.
A main issue for feminists is the control of women’s’ bodies whether it be sexual harassment and the use of clothing choice cited as a reason for rape, or the use of women’s bodies for male approval. The ban on burkini’s highlighted another way in which female bodies were being policed, it did however cause uproar as it was alleged that women wearing burkini’s (which bare a huge resemblance to wet suits) were somehow connected to terrorism.
Malala Yousafzai quickly rose to notoriety within both feminism and the wider society as on her way to school in Pakistan the Taliban shot her simply for being a female going to school. She is now a figurehead for women’s rights and the push for education for women across the world. She has gone on to give talks at the UN, written an autobiography and been awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.
“For Muslim girls and women around the world, however, the story is more than just a tale of survival. In Malala’s frank prose is proof that feminism, or the desire for equality through education and empowerment, is not the terrain of any one culture or faith.” This quote comes from Rafia Zakaria and it highlights the importance of Malala’s imput to feminism in the western world, she is a human reminder that despite feminism being branded as a white western ideology, equal rights is engrained in every woman, no matter her race or religion.
Feminism has always been controversial within society as many claims that it ignores the issues that men also face, however as Chunn et al stated, “it is time, therefore, to restore balance by attending to other casualties of social change (that is, white men) who have been denied or ignored because of the disproportionate attention feminism has demanded and received for “women’s issues.”” Despite this being written in 2007, some nine years ago, this rhetoric is continued throughout media, social media and societal ideologies toward the social movement.
According to the Guardian, the most likely journalists to be abused were women and men of colour, even more so when women wrote in their sports section, despite being the minority in this section of the newspaper, they received more abuse than their male counterparts. To add to this, articles on rape, written by women, attracted huge levels of blocked comments often being the highest every year- as did feminism, which regularly came in third on topic classification.
You can’t argue with the statistics when stating that feminism is good for everyone, “Goldman Sachs calculates that, leaving all other things equal, increasing women’s participation in the labour market to male levels will boost GDP by 21% in Italy, 19% in Spain, 16% in Japan, 9% in America, France and Germany and 8% in Britain.” However, according to news outlet Fox News, feminism is a national security threat.
So despite the facts and statistics, feminism aiming to push equal rights and diminish that of gender roles-on both sides- calling yourself a feminist is still vilified, with only 7% of Britons would call themselves feminist. With a quarter saying the first word they thought of when thinking of feminism was “bitchy,” this is due to media portrayal of the movement and what it is perceived to stand for.