Feminism is one of those nasty words that leaves a bitter taste in people’s mouths. It is the word equivalent to instant coffee. Recently, there has been a movement away from the pictures of bra burning outside of Miss. America pageants to redefining what it means to be a woman. To put it simply, feminism is the social, political, and economic equality of both genders. For further definition, here is a picture:
Yet, feminism has yet to lose its reputation as a movement that is trying to fundamentally end the masculine gender of all rights. Too many people have encountered that stereotype and accepted it as the only reality. If the was no feminism, there would be a tendency to do the opposite. The opposite of fighting is denying the rights that people have died to gain and accepting the life of a second class citizen (essentially, creating the position of a second class citizen). With feminism being such a broad topic, education, language, and “conservative” feminism are going to be discussed.
Education is one point of activism. Education is denied to many grls aroun the world. There are girls denied and scared away from getting an education. Here in the US, education is essentially taken for granted. Where it is most needed, it is denied. Recently, at least 200 girls were kidnapped. The girls were abducted from a school. How clear of a message is that against female education? The news of the girls being abducted did not even reach the general public for around two weeks with any sort of vigor. It took social media for some people to even learn about the kidnapping. The kidnapping is not the only worldwide acknowledgment of anger against the education of woman. Malala was shot in the head for wanting more than purdah. Malala is even supporting the effort to bring back the girls from their captors. Because, education is the key to freedom.
With education, woman can vote with knowledge in places that will allow women the right to vote. Whoever controls the mind of the women controls the mind of the country. So by controlling voting and election policies, men control women.
The language of a culture is formed by its users. Meanings of words are defined not only by the denotation (dictionary definition) but the connotation (every day use). Recently, there have movements to somewhat eliminate the stigma associated with words that put down women. My least favorite has an association to a female dog. Yes, I did not write it. In 2004, Mean Girls came out. Near the end of the movie, Tina Fey’s character is talking to the crowd of girls about the fallout of the burn book. To paraphrase, using those types of words do not give women back the power; it still gives the men the power by using those words. Personally, I believe those words cannot be redeemed. I cannot use those words every single day to change the connotation. If those words were to change, it would not happen within the female community alone. I think of the words like “geek” or “nerd.” Both of these words have had bad connotations until recently. Who made these words okay? Personally, I think hipsters had a huge part in the changing the connotation. Then, society as a whole was forced into accepting these words as a symbol of pride instead of one of shame.
Finally, we have arrived at the possibility of a “conservative” feminist. The entire phrase seems to be an oxymoron because the stereotype seems to involve more “liberal” female/male feminists. While there is a push to get women out of the house and into business, there are those who choose to stay at home. This is a woman who is often ignored because staying at home to watch children is being a bad feminist. This hit home one day during a debate at school more than a year ago. I was talking to smart, wonderful, talented women. They were saying how they did not want the title of being a feminist because they believed women were meant to stay at home. At first, I was defensive. How could they choose that life? They have options. Then after a while, I realized staying at home was an option that they could choose. It was an option that I had grown up with. Why am I shocked? Then in an unrelated incident, there was Utah mother who bought shirts from a PacSun store because the models were immodest. She was slammed on the Internet for being a prude. Someone even asked the question, “Who will the feminists defend?” There was not a lot of support for her. If feminists are fighting against the de-objectification of women, why is this wrong? Why are we not standing with her? Is it because of her views?
Feminism is wide and diverse. These are only three subjects of many. These are also the three that I feel most passionate about. Women need education around the world. I did not even begin to start talking about human trafficking (modern day slavery) which is related to education. In order for society to change, we must stop thinking of offensive words for each other. Language is a social contract. We must also start looking at situations through other people’s eyes. That is the only way society can progress.