What Does It Mean to Be a Feminist Today?
“I do not wish women to have power over men, but over themselves,” Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley, once said. That was long ago. In this feminist essay, we will look for the answer to the question “What does it mean to be a feminist today”?We intend to demonstrate that to be a feminist nowadays means to demand equity amongst women and men, to empower and uplift women, and recognizing the oppression of women of color and poorer women.
Misconceptions of Feminism
There are so many misconceptions of what it means to be a feminist in today’s climate. In a 2017 article, Today’s Feminism Movement Has Devolved into Men Hating, writer Noah Callahan refers to feminism today as “cult of outrage that seeks to belittle men.” That statement by Callahan couldn’t be further from the truth. Just from the debates that I have witnessed online and in person about feminism, I can conclude that a handful of people (primarily men) believe feminism is to be women trying to reverse the position of power in society.
To further explain, we have lived in a very male-dominated world, and lots of people who don’t quite grasp the concept of feminism believe that women are trying to become the dominated gender in society, which is false. Being a feminist is about more than just equal rights between the sexes, it’s also about equity.
A popular example of equity would be two people trying to look over a brick wall. They both can’t see over the wall unless they have a stool. One person is taller than the other person, if we give both of them the same height stool, then they would both be able to look over the wall, which would be equal. But the taller person would be able to see further over the fence, thus giving them an advantage from the start. Now, if you provide the shorter person with a stool that is tall enough to the point where both people can see the same amount of distance, that’s what feminism is. It’s not just about a woman having the same position at a company as a man, but also having the same pay and opportunities as presented to the man, especially if the woman is a hard worker, even a harder worker. Feminism is about fighting for equity in the world.
Feminism as Empowerment
Although feminism is about equality and equity of both sexes, it’s much more than that. Feminists show society that women can work just a hard and efficient as their counterparts. In order to do that we need to inspire and uplift women. We need to empower women to go after their dreams and to shoot for the stars. From conversations and watching celebrity women talk about how it’s very discouraging working in a male-dominated field, the encouragement and empowerment of other women keep them going. Mila Kunis, an actress, offered her take on feminism and working in a male-dominated field, where it’s essential to empower women in her essay You’ll Never Work in This Town Again… for A Plus.com. Kunis wrote, “Throughout my career, there have been moments when I have been insulted, sidelined, paid less, creatively ignored, and otherwise diminished based on my gender.” In her essay, she also stated, “In the hope of bringing one more voice to the conversation so that women in the workplace feel a little less alone and more able to push back for themselves.” Feminism is made to empower women, that to me is the essential goal.
To be a feminist in today’s society, it is important that we as feminist acknowledge the oppression and lack of inclusion that women of color and poorer women went through and still struggle today. It’s important to recognize that type of mistreatment because it can still be witnessed today in the feminist culture. In 1993 Ruth Frankenberg described ‘White Feminism’ in Feminist Review, as “White feminism is an epithet used to describe feminist theories that focus on the struggles of white women without addressing distinct forms of oppression faced by ethnic minority women and women lacking other privileges.” The original feminist movement didn’t include women of color nor did it include poor women. Feminism emerged into society in the early 20th century tackling issues like women’s suffrage and women’s rights. That could be seen as a good thing, there was a flaw in that movement, it only catered and benefited white middle-class, educated women. Now while there were a few women of color engaging in the movement during that time like Princess Sophia Duleep Singh, who obviously benefited because of her royal title, however, there is little to no evidence that black women or native American women participated and benefited in that movement. In order to move forward, we must acknowledge that part in history and make sure it doesn’t reoccur again in the future.
If we are for women, we are for all women. That’s mean white women, black women, Hispanic/Latino women, Asian women, infertile women, transgender women, petite women, obese women, and the list goes on. We, as feminist, are for all women. We empower and uplift all women. We fight for equity between both sexes. We don’t belittle men to uplift women, all we are doing is letting women across the world know that they can achieve anything a man could achieve. That’s what it means to be a feminist today.
- Callahan, Noah. “Today’s Feminism Movement Has Devolved into Men Hating.” Evolution of Modern Humans: Early Modern Human Culture, 12 Apr. 2017, www2.palomar.edu/telescope/2017/04/12/todays-feminism-movement-has-devolved-into-men-hating/.
- Frankenberg, Ruth. “Growing up White: Feminism, Racism and the Social Geography of Childhood.” Feminist Review, vol. 45, no. 1, 1993, pp. 51–84., doi:10.1057/fr.1993.38.
- Kunis, Mila. “A Producer Told Me I’d Never Work In This Town Again – But I’m Done Compromising.” A Plus, 2 Nov. 2016, aplus.com/a/mila-kunis-sexism-gender-bias-workplace-producer?no_monetization=true.