A Journal on Feminism
Published 22 Feb 2017
According to the Stanford Encyclopedia for Philosophy (2004), Feminism is not just a political movement for women’s rights and justice, but also an intellectual movement. But through the years, feminism has taken different forms. However, they are all forms of sexism. They do not find a stark difference between men and women in the political arena, as well as in society. In this light, they are after social justice and gender equality. This movement changed a lot of the aspects of society and has made a lot of historical impacts.
Personally, I thought feminism was merely asking for equality, and to experience fair judgment. Feminists were merely those activists with picket signs and lobbying agendas in the government. Prior to this, feminism was a mere idea to raise my voice when there is injustice. However, with these articles, along with the supplementary research and those discussed in class, I found a rather profound meaning. Furthermore, I also felt a rather proud feeling for all the women in the world who fought for their rights—to be treated equally with men, and to be treated as a human being.
I could not imagine being treated as a second class citizen, or to be less important than some farm animals. I cannot fathom the idea that my primary purpose in society would merely be a means for procreation, and to answer the needs of selfish husbands. Women were for show. They were dressed in tight fitting clothing and blamed to carry all the sins of man. Women then always had to look beautiful, obedient and submissive. She should not raise her voice than an audible whisper, and her ankles should not show at the hem of her skirts.
Back then, it was a norm for women to act and dress in such a manner in order to be accepted in society. Otherwise, they would have been marked as different, an outcast, or a witch. The names they have called women in the history of man could only be implied in books and movies. But who could really tell the real like of a woman in those times? Perhaps it was because of this oppression that these women were able to finally find a voice to stand up to those who judge them for being a woman. They added meaning to the word ‘individual’, and they have added a far greater purpose for a woman—to stand with pride for being a woman.
These perspectives of feminism were collectively categorized in 3 waves. The chapter A Tsunami in History wrote about these three waves. As mentioned, women back then were not considered to be equal with men. In this light, the first wave was when the women were fighting to gain to the right to vote. Abigail Adams became famous for saying “remember the ladies” to her husband when they were writing the Declaration of Independence. Unfortunately, they were still not included in the said document.
When we think about it, it was quite difficult to think about their reasons behind not including the women at all. Some said that it was the men’s fear that the women can overpower them. They could be easily replaced by these women in their high positions if the women would really work hard for it. It is almost a natural behavior for human beings to suppress anything or anyone that they think could be a threat to their existence. However, that wasn’t the point of these women. They were not after overpowering men, but they were after having their existence recognized as an equal. The same chapter wrote that when they were finally allowed to vote marked the beginning of reproductive control, and more importantly, professional success.
The second wave was called “Our Mothers’ Fight”. This wave aimed to focus on women’s independence from men. This means that to survive in a society, women don’t have to be with a partner or a husband. She could fend for herself. The article also wrote that the wave gave emphasis on the idea that everyone should receive the same pay for the same work. The constitutional rights for women were drafted in the name of the Equal Rights Amendment. Furthermore, they also wanted to have more women elected in the public office, to legalize abortion and to ban all forms of discrimination in schools and public places.
This second wave of feminism aimed to support the women at a wider perspective. During the first wave, they aimed to be recognized as a human being and be allowed to vote. However, in this wave, they have taken that to the next level, to broaden the opportunities and options for them. They might have been given the right to vote, but that alone could only go so far as well. The privileged women joined together to help those who were still unable to raise their voices. Women should not be fearful of men. She could stand up for herself, and she should realize that.
Moreover, possibly two of the most prominent figures who spearheaded the movements for equality between men and women are Susan Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton. Both women played key roles in the implementation of women’s right to suffrage in the United States. The two women also held dozens of speeches and organized movement aimed to fight for the rights of all women in general. Anthony is best known for her role in the passing of the 19th amendment to the United States Constitution which allowed women to vote although she was already dead when the amendment was implemented. On the other hand, Stanton initiated the first women’s rights convention wherein she presented the Declaration of Sentiments, which is a document that served as the foundation for the enactment of future laws that secured the social, political, religious, and civil rights of women. Unlike Anthony, Stanton’s ideals went beyond the establishment of women’s right to suffrage. She also supported movements that fought for other rights of women such as women’s property rights, divorce laws, property rights, and birth control rights, among others.
Personally, I believe that these two figures are the epitomes of what true women really are. I admire the fact that they never cared if their ideals were met with intense opposition as they believed that what they were fighting for is right. I believe that they are the best examples of what women today should be— independent and strong-willed. I hope that women of future generations emulate Anthony and Stanton’s idealism and courage so that women all over the world would continue to fight oppression and inequality.
Finally, the third wave concerns all the women of today. The trend with people today is that each person is an individual. Feminism, according to the chapter, was broken down into smaller groups, and continued to be scrutinized as such. It was said that the women faced these criticisms and judgments as an individual. When it seemed that feminists were bound by that name, they appeared disbanded and alone. All the other waves have faded, and the third is yet to establish its true purpose.
We are still at the third wave. Maybe this was only coined as such because the distinguishing factor is the the second wave already brushed off its traces. Today, we are too focused on the individuality of a person, that we missed the collective purpose of some groups. According to the article by Baumgardner and Richards, feminism is a loose group of individuals with a common belief and a purpose. We are no longer justifying the value of women, but of each individual in society. Furthermore, we are at an age when we are not just after equality between men and women, but also across cultures and people. Perhaps, feminism also became the avenue to open these tightly closed doors between colors. It was taken a step at a time, and a wave defined it.
The Happy Feminist (2006) wrote that feminists were diverse in five ways. First, feminists came from a conceivable life full of experiences. Second, feminists are diverse in terms of personality, style, and lifestyle. Third, diversity also lies on the emphasis of the feminist; this pertains to her focal point. Fourth, feminists are diverse depending on the conclusions they derived being a feminist in society. Last, feminism is not the only issue a feminist is concerned about. These characteristics support what has come of feminism in the third wave. Although each feminist is different than the next one, they are still a collective voice for every living woman.
Similarly, the introductory chapter of “The F-Word” also quoted a woman who expressed that she doesn’t want to be labeled as a feminist. In fact, she merely wants to be able to express her own opinions as a person. The chapter mentioned that a lot of women share the same idea. So where does feminism stop and individualism begin?
On the other hand, where politics were involved, young women were not given enough credit. One Democrat said that to consider this section of the population would be a waste of time. Alongside him are other elected officials who thought of the same idea in their terms. With this in mind, when young women don’t vote, their concerns are not given just attention. Issues like education, domestic violence, reproductive rights, health care, college tuition, social security and child care were continuously debated without this aspect of society in mind. Sadly, those who are excluded from their considerations are those who are most affected by these issues.
Shouldn’t it be the other way around? Shouldn’t the politicians face these issues without the votes of these women simply because to have laws and provisions on their favor are now necessary? If they are after another term in the office, then they should please this crowd to get their votes in the next election. On the part of these women, if they didn’t see that the public officers would do anything for them, then they didn’t feel the purpose of voting. The politicians already see the need; statistics should be enough to show the reality of these issues. As public officers, they should take the initiative to fix the problem.
Furthermore, the politicians have insufficient reasons to not answer the raised issues of these women. Why neglect this group? All that they shall deliberate in the senate and the congress will greatly affect the next generation, including these women. Just because they don’t vote doesn’t mean that they don’t matter. On the other hand, just because the politicians should be the ones to take the initiative, doesn’t meant that they should not maximize their right to vote, which was fought for by the founders of feminism. Also, since these politicians have this perspective of them not voting, they should scream a louder banner through voting.
The F-Word could be equated to a profane word, but in this book, it was referred to as the feminism. It was a foul joke. As long as time could tell, feminism has been taken as a negative movement against society when related to the other ‘-isms’ there are across the globe. One woman from the book said that she called a feminist simply because she shared an opinion. By speaking up, she was defined from a doormat and a prostitute, and she didn’t want to be labeled just for that. By this assumption of the people, they missed the true essence behind the word feminism. They missed the ideas, theories, and more importantly, its foundation.
The book expressed that nobody wanted to be labeled of anything anyway, but that is what everyone do despite this knowledge. Have we come to a point where individualism would relate to how one would no longer care about what other people do or say. But even if we don’t believe that what other people say should affect us, we still assume and judge other people. On our part, we put our minds in a box, as expressed in the same chapter. This hinders us from stretching arguments and finding more options and possibilities. However, the initial point of feminism was to break those barriers. But with their rise come more boxes. Man will always question the existence of the other, if not making it seem inferior to theirs.
Pamela Aronson’s study about feminism aimed to establish the attitudes of young women toward the issue along side gender relations. There was a rising idea that feminism was dying. Since the world is now leaning towards individualism, is feminism truly dead by its rise? One of the points expressed in the study is that through the waves of feminism, women attained a variety of ideas related to their movement. When the movement continues on forward, it will also attain more ideas and philosophies.
In the study, they also found that the sample, which comprised of a random selection of women, had to deliberate which aspects of their lives should they prioritize: family or work. They also found their perceptions about discrimination and obstacles of being a woman. Interesting answers from the respondents allowed diversity of the movement, given that they are all running with the movement. However, does the diversity of their answers and experiences imply the death of the movement?
For instance, one woman said that she doesn’t have any concerns about discrimination in the workplace. She never experienced it, so she didn’t give it much thought. However, she also highlighted that in her kind of job, women dominate the men by number. On the other hand, another woman said that she felt some constraints by being a woman. But she believes that she didn’t miss much of the opportunities because she is a woman. But other women answered that there has been sexual harassment in the work place. Given the results, Aronson related other scholars into the issue. She wrote from Gurin that women tolerate discrimination because of self preservation. Also, they didn’t want to think of themselves as victims because its nature was demeaning.
According to the study, the concept of feminism was brought about education. One woman said that if she didn’t take that class, she could have been married with too many children to handle. But those who definitely qualified as a feminist were those women of color and those white working class women. In addition to this, those who are uncertain about feminism still press the idea of equality among all people. This was feminism’s primary ideology. However, feminism attained a negative image. It has been mistaken that feminists are those who always insist that women and equal with men. This is not the nature of feminism. It is to be educated by its theories and to live according to the beliefs derived from those theories.
Another point derived from the respondents was that, they are not exactly a a feminist. By this, one respondent said that, she doesn’t bash men. Another respondent said that she isn’t always caught up with the issues between sexes. The truth behind their answers is that they like men. Being a feminist doesn’t mean that every woman should be a man-hater. Instead, she could choose to live with a man, as long as she doesn’t let herself be degraded any lower than a respectable human being.
Above these perspectives are those who do not care and will not think of feminism. Given the current situation of feminism, they thought of feminists as strong activists, and would rather not mingle with that kind of crowd. In addition, some of the respondents expressed that she didn’t care because she was never ill treated by a man before. However, I think that even if she didn’t feel the oppression doesn’t mean that she should just be impassive of other women who do. It is rather inhumane to simply let unjust activities to happen to other people because we are not experiencing it. Are we going to wait to personally experience this oppression before we act against it?
We shouldn’t react to the problem. We should prevent it.
In the end, feminism is no longer questioning or insisting the rights of women to be the same with that of men. It is no longer saying that women should be treated as human beings. Today, women are given that and, in selective cases, more. But the movement is not yet at its end. There remains judgmental minds and, until all boxes are unopened, the feminist movement shall try to counter that with sound and just reasons.
- (January 9, 2006). “Feminism 101: What is feminism.” Retrieved March 13, 2008 from http://happyfeminist.typepad.com/happyfeminist/2006/01/feminism_is_not.html.
- Haslanger, S., Tuana, N. (March 15, 2004). “Topics in feminism.” Retrieved March 13, 2008 from http://www.science.uva.nl/~seop/entries/feminism-topics/.