by Abby Nye
In 1837, French socialist Charles Fourier coined the term “feminisme,” or “feminism” in English. Fourier defined “feminism” as the advocating for the equality of women politically, socially, and economically according to the New World Encyclopedia. This ideology was developed based on the lack of liberation for women and focused on the gap that women could fill in order to reach the level of freedom that men had. The development of this concept intentionally excluded any mention of men’s freedoms and liberation. Feminism is not about taking away men’s rights and replacing them with women’s. It is entirely about working for women to be able to reach the level of freedom that men already have.
Since coming to Whitworth, I have been incredibly surprised by the amount of people who don’t call themselves a feminist. However, as I began to have conversations about this subject, I realized that there are many misconceptions about this “F” word that have rightfully deterred people. A common one I’ve heard is that feminism is the belief that women are better than men. Another is that feminism is a social movement that seeks to attack men and demand them to give up their rights and freedoms. I found this quite comical as the feminism that I’ve been familiar with had nothing to do with invalidating men. The feminism I know is about advocating for the recognition of underrepresented people and all those who feel taken advantage of by the social system in America.
While there is such a thing as “radical feminism,” which does advocate for the belief that women are better than men, feminism itself is simply the belief that women are deserving of all the rights and freedoms that men currently have. Feminism is not about men. Feminism is about the lived experiences of women throughout history and to this day who have suffered the consequences of societal punishment of being a woman. These punishments include lack of education, lack of reproductive rights, unequal pay, and the list goes on. Feminism is about every woman who has come before us, every women now, and all the women that are still to come.
It’s important to note that feminism is an advocate of other movements that work to overcome oppression and underrepresentation of different social groups. These groups include the LGBT rights, reproductive rights and domestic violence prevention. Working together, these groups have a stronger impact than alone. When you take part in the feminist movement, you are also taking part in the advocacy of many other groups working to overcome oppressive social structures.
Feminism is not an attack, it’s a right. All women have the right to have a say over their bodies, careers, and social standing. It is imperative to understand that feminism does not look to strip men of any rights or even condemn men for their sex. Feminism truly advocates for the equality of every single person. Men have as much of a right to equality as women do, so please consider this an invitation to join the ranks. The feminist movement is only going to gain momentum, so now is the time to jump on board. Don’t be afraid to call yourself a feminist. The sooner you can make a place for yourself in this movement, the more of an impact it can have.
Contact Abby Nye at email@example.com