Women have fought for their rights as long as time has existed, a slight exaggeration but not very far from the truth. Feminism by definition is “The advocacy of women’s rights on the ground of the equality of sexes”. It advocates for equality of rights and opportunities for women (cis gendered and trans gendered) of every colour, race and sexual-orientation.

History of Feminism

Feminism is a movement that has its waves throughout time. Early feminism was seen during the time of renaissance. Female writers wrote books that showed a woman’s perspective. Christine de Pizan was one such writer who wrote the books like “The book of the city of ladies” and “Epistle to the god of love” that denounced misogyny. Not only was she one of the few female writers but she was the first to focus on the relation between the sexes rather than portraying women in an inferior light.

The more modern feminism movement was seen to have its roots in early 19th and 20th century. This was around the time when women fought against the cultural inequalities. The main fight was to allow women in politics and grant them the right to vote. More popularly the movement was titled ‘women suffrage’.  With time the movement grew larger and stronger, and included other inequalities faced by women.

The second wave of feminism came around the time of 60s and lasted through the 80s. The main fight during this period was to battle the broader cultural inequalities that were a result of the gender roles assigned to men and women.

As the third wave came along, the fight for feminism became larger and more diverse. The third wave is the current wave of feminism that fights for equal pay for women and those belonging to LGBTQ communities. It addresses pay disparity, discrimination of women based on their sexual orientation and disparity among women based on their race.

A notable reason as to why the movement worked was not only because women spoke up. It was because men in powerful positions used their privilege to back the women’s movement. Antonio Cornazzano, Castiglione, Parker Pillsbury and Justin Trudeau are only a few of the many examples.  In the 1980s, the feminist movement even inspired the men’s rights movement that worked to free gender role that are assigned to men.

Why is it feminism?

Most people who claim to be against the movement is the name in itself – feminism. How can a term that claims to fight for equality have a female term so pronounced? Why is it not a gender-neutral term?

History has shown us that when it comes to gender, one gender that has been subjected to the maximum amount of oppression is the female gender. There was a time when women were treated like second class citizens that had no rights in society or even over their own body. Thus, when terming a movement that worked towards fighting for equality it was decided to have a female oriented word. If the term in itself failed to recognise the disparity between the sexes how could women, all over the world, put their faith in the movement? It serves as a recognition of what women have been denied through the years and a promise to hopefully change the reality of that for all women in the future.

Feminazi, Anti- Feminism and Misandry

Three topics that are often brought up along with feminism are feminazis, anti-feminism and misandry. Thus, it is important to discuss these topics and how they relate to the feminist movement.

Feminazi was a term given to ‘strong-willed’ by those who opposed the feminist movement to those who felt strongly about the movement and were ‘too opinionated’. It is true that there are people who feel strongly about certain topic and it is no different in this case as well. How can this be different from any man, or woman, having a strong political opinion? For some they may come off as ‘strong’ or extremists, but comparing these women to a group of people who participated in genocide is the real extreme.

Anti-feminism, on the other hand, movement that stemmed around the same time that feminism did as an opposition to the feminist movement. The anti-feminist movement like feminism has developed and changes with time. In the beginning they worked against the women suffrage and in the modern world most problems in society, like lower college entrance rates of men, to that of women. On some countries, women working anywhere other than home as well is considered to be wrong and going against their ‘culture’.

One of the main stand-points for anti-feminism is that feminism stems from a thought of oppression of men. The term used for the prejudice against men is misandry. Those who believe in anti-feminism believe that the movement was started to oppress men. The true surprise is that most anti-feminist women are the ones that believe that feminism is actually disguised misandry. I will not lie and say that there aren’t people who believe in misandry and mask these views under the name of feminism. But the portion of these individuals are too miniscule to discount the entire movement that was, and is still, a saving grace for women all over the world.

This movement has changed how women are viewed in society. The movement gave women the voice to empower themselves and fight for their basic rights. Distinguishing these terms and understanding the movement thus, makes it all the more important.

“The more I have spoken about feminism the more I have realised that fighting for women’s rights has too often become synonymous with man-hating. If there is one thing I know for certain, it is that this has to stop.”- Emma Watson

Feminism is one of the most important movements in history. It’s empowered women and made the world truly introspect on how men treated women and how women treated themselves.

With years of living in a patriarchal system it is natural that the changes the movement demands seem too ‘progressive’ and ‘unnecessary’. It is difficult to change the mindset of people overnight. People resist change and it is no different in this case. But it is necessary to recognise that the disparity between the sexes is man-made and not a natural one. Tomorrow, boy or a girl, we must be able to teach our children that in no way are they inferior to anybody because of their gender. We should be able to tell them that they won’t be discriminated against because of their sex. Can we truly say that boys and girls are treated the same in today’s society?

I am a feminist and a proud one. I owe it to all the feminists before me that I am able to live the life I am today. I am able to dream of a career and work towards achieving them. There is no doubt that women have achieved things, great things, and that should be celebrated. The reason it makes headlines isn’t because women aren’t capable to reach those heights, it is rare because women are expected to overcome a lot more hurdles that men to reach the positions that they are put in. We don’t ask for any special opportunities or preferential treatments. Women don’t need a lower bar; we just want an equal floor.

The feminist movement started with one woman and her writing, someday I hope my writing can make a difference and allow at least one person to view the world through a different perspective.

“There is no limit to what we, as women, can accomplish” – Michele Obama

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