“Feminists are just playing the victim”
“Feminism says women are weak”
“Feminists hate men”
“Feminism” has definitely become a buzz term in today's day and age. Some groups identify with it and others are repelled. Where did this start and why has this single word created massive controversies on social media, in work environments, and even in everyday life?
Some thinkers locate the roots of feminism in ancient Greek mythology, but it was not until the late nineteenth century that the efforts for women’s equal rights were clearly identifiable and became an active movement. French philosopher Charles Fourier is credited with first using the term “féminisme” in the 1830s, and “feminist” first appeared in the Oxford English Dictionary in 1852. Traditionally feminism is often divided into three main traditions, sometimes known as the "Big Three" schools of feminist thought: liberal/mainstream feminism, radical feminism, and Marxist feminism.
Liberal feminists aim at asserting themselves as rational beings worthy of the same rights as men. Thus, they promote the right to choose and shape their rights and socio-political autonomy. Liberal feminism unlike other feminist schools of thought seeks equality through legal reform as opposed to revolutions and rebellions. Radical feminism on the other hand is a branch of feminism that seeks to dismantle the traditional patriarchal power and gender roles that keep women oppressed. Radical feminists thus see patriarchy as the root cause of inequality between men and women and they seek to up-root this. They aim to address the root causes of oppression through systemic change and activism, rather than through legislative or economic change. Marxist feminism analyses the ways in which women are exploited through capitalism and the individual ownership of private property. According to Marxist feminists, women's liberation can only be achieved by dismantling the capitalist systems in which they contend that much of women's labor is uncompensated.
The feminist movement progressed rapidly and spread to different parts of the world. There were 4 waves, the first wave primarily focused on making society recognize that women are humans and not property. The second wave challenged what a women’s role in society should be. This meant taking a closer look at why women were oppressed and also trying to amend it. The third wave was an era of reclaiming. Women were able to work on their identity and welcome their individuality. The fourth wave comprised the #MeToo movement. Social media shifted the movement into the technological age.
Women held their hands together and fought long and hard to be identified, be heard, be educated, be given a seat at the table, be respected, and be given freedom and the right to choose. They wanted to create change and rightfully did so too. But somewhere down the line feminism became aggressive. One of the biggest misconceptions about feminism is that it’s a movement for women, by women, and made up of women in opposition to men. But at the same time, women are put under the spotlight, expected to be flawless performers in both their professional and personal lives. Men are belittled just to raise the social status of women. This has created a wave of toxic feminism. In truth, not only should feminism benefit everyone, as it works to dismantle all systems of oppression, but it shouldn’t be based on this binary gender thinking in the first place. We need to understand that today, true feminism is not only about equality but also about differences.
We need to relearn what feminism actually is and what it stands for. A feminist should be a person who believes in the power of a woman just as much as they believe in the power of anyone else. The issue is not men versus women but people versus prejudice. And if one stands for equality, then they are a feminist.