The New Face of Feminism

feminist-symbol-keylaHarry Potter star Emma Watson made a powerful speech this past year. It made its impact, and sent many talking. Although it mainly was centered around men and what they should do, the world was abuzz with the words she spoke, and more importantly what it covered. Watson’s speech was about feminism.

“…I think it is right I am paid the same as my male counterparts. I think it is right that I should be able to make decisions about my own body. I think it is right that women be involved on my behalf in the policies and decisions that will affect my life. I think it is right that socially, I am afforded the same respect as men.”

Feminism. The movement has been around for years, but has recently entered the mainstream consciousness with new energy as celebrities and many others have been advocating for change. From Chimamanda Adichie to Constance Lytton, feminism and what feminists have been fighting for has rapidly changed, although the movement is still connected to it’s original roots.

During the 18-1900’s, women’s suffrage was the issue. Suffragists thought women deserved their right to vote; a say in the world they were living in. Voting was a basic right awarded to men, but banned from women. The women, and even some men fighting for the right, were feminists.

This “first wave feminism” rapidly evolved, and in the 1940’s the issue at hand was women in the workforce, replacing men in their stereotypically “manly” jobs while they went off to war.

Fast forward to the 1960’s and the second wave of feminism. The concepts of sexuality, family, reproductive rights, and inequities were brought to the table. Feminists began fighting for their rights to higher positions in the workplace, pro life rights, and freedom and sexuality. Issues such as domestic violence began arising as well.

The Second wave feminism now ushered us into “third wave feminism,” which began in the 1990’s and continues today. Since the 1990’s, massive issues regarding women’s rights have been brought up, and fought for. Things such as intersectional feminism have been brought to the mainstream. Intersectional feminism is defined as “The view that women experience oppression in varying configurations and in varying degrees of intensity.” Feminism isn’t just for Americans- it branches throughout countries, cultures, races, and sexualities.

Junior Erin Smith says she thinks there still may be a need for feminism. Like many teens today, she has never been rightfully educated on the issue of feminism, and what women in the world face. On feminism and feminists, Smith says she thinks it’s okay what they’re doing, but when asked the question, seemed apathetic about the issue.

Although some believe there is no need for feminism, others think the exact opposite.  Just a few days ago, Patricia Arquette won best supporting actress at the oscars and in her acceptance speech, addressed women’s equality.

“It’s time for women. Equal means equal. The truth is the older women get, the less money they make. The highest percentage of children living in poverty are in female-headed households. It’s inexcusable that we go around the world and we talk about equal rights for women in other countries and we don’t. One of those superior court justices said two years ago in a law speech at a university that we don’t have equal rights for women in America and we don’t because when they wrote Constitution, they didn’t intend it for women. So the truth is even though we sort of feel like we have equal rights in America right under the surface there are huge issues at play that really do affect women…”

Although the speech didn’t seem to bring up the intersectional feminism that is so needed, it did make a massive statement, and got people talking. Here at Thornton there are also many differing opinions. Junior Anika Chamberlain says she does consider herself a feminist and does so because as a woman, feminism is the only thing that makes sense.

“It doesn’t make any sense to me that any person identifying as female wouldn’t be a feminist, because it is simply the belief that both genders should be equal.”

Chamberlain says that we definitely still need feminism, and that in western feminism our focus is on mainly on topics such as the wage gap, rape culture- (1 in 3 women are the survivors of sexual violence, 1 in 3 men would rape if they could get away with it, 1 in 16 men are rapists, and 91% of rape/sexual assult victims are female. Believe it or not, rape culture is real.), and domestic and sexual violence and abuse, and disparities in opportunities between men and women. Chamberlain also brings up the topic of intersectional feminism, and says

“However, in some parts of the world there are serious problems with sex trafficking and the abortion of girls as fetuses because giving birth to to a girl in some countries is an expense many families cannot pay. In certain places women are seen as property, and feminism is the ideal that one day, they will not be.”

Chamberlain says that a big issue with women today is inclusion. That feminism is a movement for women, and to be a women is to be a gender- not a sex.

All feminists should include women of color, trans women, queer women, mentall handicapped women, gender nonconforming women, and women with jobs in the sex industry”

Making a comparison, Chamberlain says,

“A country can’t fight a war against another country if it’s in the middle of civil conflict.”

She explains women have to band together and accept each other before we can expect men to. Bringing the topic of intersectionality up again, Chamberlain says white feminism is about important things, but white cisgender women do not experience the same levels of misogyny as nearly all other women. Lastly, Chamberlain says she thinks it’s important to only speak on your behalf when speaking about feminism. She only speaks on things she’s educated on.

“It’s important to let women speak on experience. I’m not able to to talk about a trans woman’s experiences, so I don’t. However, I will speak on certain injustices like trans panic defense.”

We need this movement for women. Even ten years ago female teachers at Thorton were expected to hide their pregnant bellies. It was shocking to see a pregnant women actually pregnant.  It’s 2015. Most of the world has heard of feminism. Some may identify as feminist, others may not. Whether you like it or not, feminism is prominent and here, with millions including celebrities advocating for it. The issues may have changed, but until women are fully equal to the men in the world, until women have the rights they deserve and can do as they please without being shamed, there will always be feminism.

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