Every article about feminism would start by saying that feminism is a range of social movements, political movements, and ideologies that aim to define, establish, and achieve the political, economic, personal, and social equality of the sexes. I would start by saying that I became a feminist when I realized people should be treated the same and given the same opportunities no matter what religion they preach, what color their skin, how much money they have in their bank account or their gender.
I joined the movement a long ago because, in my point of view, it was the right thing to do. I had something to believe in, a purpose, a goal to purchase. Nevertheless, the more I grow old, the more I see people quitting, running away from this movement, even people afraid to call themselves feminists or people who stopped calling themselves feminists.
Representation of the world, like the world itself, is the work of men; they describe it from their own point of view, which they confuse with absolute truth.
― Simone de Beauvoir, The Second Sex.
Feminism has always been about giving the right to women and making them feel like citizens of the world, but not because feminists believe that women are better than men; on the contrary, because they believe, we believe, that if we all worked together, our world could only be better.
Feminist movements have campaigned and continue to campaign for women’s rights, including the right to vote, to hold public office, to work, to earn fair wages, equal pay and eliminate the gender pay gap, to own property, to receive education, to enter contracts, to have equal rights within marriage, and to have maternity leave.
Feminism isn’t about making women stronger. Women are already strong, it’s about changing the way the world perceives that strength.
— G.D Anderson.
Feminists have also worked to ensure access to legal abortions and social integration and to protect women and girls from rape, sexual harassment, and domestic violence. And I would like to highlight the “ and continue to” because it has never stopped to be what it originally was or deviated from its original meaning.
Throughout history, there has been what we call “waves” of feminism which could translate to “ updates” . I personally don’t believe that there are versions of feminism. The purpose has always been the same, achieving gender equality. Nevertheless, if we look closer into these “waves”, we can perceive different main ideas:
First-wave feminism, the beginnings.
First-wave feminism was in the 19th and early 20th centuries in the UK and the USA. It focused on the promotion of equal contract, marriage, parenting, and property right for women. This new legislation included the Custody of Infants (1839) and Married Women’s Property (1870). The main goal was the acquirement of the right to vote for women, campaigned by the suffragettes in the UK in the early 20th century. One of the main activists of this movement was Emmeline Pankhurst.
We have to free half of the human race, the women, so that they can help to free the other half.
Second-wave feminism, fighting social injustices.
Second-wave feminism took place in the mid-20th century. Since women still lacked significant rights, feminists continued to campaign for the reform of family laws to avoid husbands’ control over their wives.
One of the main figures of this wave was the French philosopher Simone de Beauvoir. She provided a Marxist solution and an existentialist view on many of the questions of feminism with the publication of “Le Deuxième Sexe” ( The Second Sexe) in 1949, in which she expressed feminists’ sense of injustice.
The body is not a thing, it is a situation: it is our grasp on the world and our sketch of our project
― Simone de Beauvoir, The Second Sex.
Third-wave feminism, my body my choice.
As for third-wave feminism, it traced to the emergence of the Riot grrrl feminists punk subculture in Washington in the 1990s. It also sought to challenge what it deemed the second-wave essentialist definition of feminity. Third-wave feminists often focused on “micro-politics” and challenged the second wave’s paradigm as to what was, or was not, good for women, and tended to use a post-modernist interpretation of gender and sexuality.
It also contained internal debates between different feminists who believe there are psychological differences between the sexes and those who believe there aren’t and contend that gender roles are due to social conditioning. Some of the aspects brought up by this wave were the differences between gender and sexuality and heteronormativity.
Monique Wittig links heterosexuality to the perpetuation of the gendered division of labor and the male appropriation of women’s productive and reproductive capacities ( La Pensée straight).
I usually tend to see myself belonging to a mix of the second and third-wave feminism. Although they differ in some points, their objectives are paramount for the construction of an individualistic and just society.
I believe that the two waves complement each other in the sense that they both acquire the pillars of feminism, such as the right to political participation, the emancipation from gender discrimination, the abolition of “formal” gender roles due to social conditioning and the empowerment of women in modern societies.
Fourth-wave feminism, #MeToo.
Finally, fourth-wave feminism refers to a resurgence of interest in feminism that began around 2012 and is associated with the use of social media. The issues focused on include street and workplace harassment, campus sexual assault, and rape culture. Some examples of feminist campaigns include “Every Day Sexism Project” and #MeToo.
Why shouldn’t anybody stop calling themselves feminists then?
Because no matter what “wave” you think you belong to, they are all seeking the same thing, EQUALITY.
You may be more of a traditional and believe the first two waves are the most important ones, or you may be a progressist and defend the importance of the fourth wave and how social media has impacted the women’s body. Either way you are a feminist and you should be proud of it.
You can totally agree on some of the terms the feminists defend and disagree on others, I personally do. There is not one type of feminist and this is not a sacred oath. Opinions and differences are very welcome because guess what,
Your freedom of speech is as important as mine! and that’s what’s essential.
You are a feminist if:
- You believe man and women are socially equal.
- You think women should be able to make their own choices.
- You think women shouldn’t be biologically recriminated against.
- You believe women should have control over their own sexuality.
- You acknowledge the fact that gender discrimination is real.
- You trust that this is a fight worth fighting for.
If you are convinced that men and women are born to be equal, my friend, you’re one of us.