WHAT IS FEMINISM, AND WHY DO WE NEED TO MODERNISE IT?

As a woman of curiosity, I’ve been turning over the words of feminism and the world’s reactions to it in my head for the last several years. My experiences go something like this:

I was sitting in an Airbnb with my mother one Michigan summer evening, and I blurted out – quite quickly – What is feminism to you? My mother’s reaction was of shock, and I wouldn’t advise thrusting such a heavy loaded question on your next-to-kin without preparing them for the conversation first.

My mother’s reaction was shocking, and she honestly couldn’t form an answer. I could see the images of women yelling, taking off their shirts, and the men’s reactions to feminism rushing behind her eyelids. It is a touchy topic, and I’m still trying to understand how to best approach the topic with new people.

My mother isn’t the only one. I’ve had similar reactions to this simple question from multiple individuals both men and women. When I take the time to explain the definition of feminism, I receive a “here, here!” and a “yes, I agree!” This tells me that the definition of feminism is in people’s hearts, and they agree with it. They agree with equality.

What is feminism?

Let’s clear it up. If you look up the word feminism is the dictionary, you will see this list of explanations:

  1. The advocacy of women’s rights on the basis of the equality of the sexes
  2. The theory of the political, economic, and social equality of the sexes
  3. The belief that men and women should have equal rights and opportunities
  4. The doctrine advocating social, political, and all other rights of women equal to those of men

I’m sure you can lean to at least one of these definitions. I most closely identify with #2, and that is the definition that I convey to people when I meet facial reactions of worry, fear, awkward, and confused.

I believe this is partly due to what is called the second wave of the feminist movement.

During second-wave feminism, which started in the early 1960s through the 1980s, many women distanced themselves from the movement for fear of being lumped in with the stereotype of a feminist: a woman who is pushy, brash, doesn’t shave her legs and above all else, hates men.

My mother’s reaction to feminism is rooted in this second-wave, and if we are to exit from it, we have to modernize feminism.

I believe that it’s irrational to think that we can continue to view feminism with the same lenses as the last century. The last century held strong achievements for women, including the right to vote, pregnancy and age discriminatory laws across career fields. The work was tough, and women (& men) worked hard through blood and tears to achieve what I have today. And I’m grateful.

But that doesn’t mean we can’t stop pushing.

There are many people in the world that believe the fight has been won and women are now equal to men.

Out of youth and ignorance, I used to have this view also. Until I started educating myself, and I would like to encourage you to do the same. We still need feminism, why?

  1.  On average, women earn 9 percent less than men.
  2. 22 percent is the number of women government parliamentary members in the world.
  3. 70 percent of speaking roles in Hollywood films are men (although actresses are 5 times more likely to be asked to get naked than their male counterparts).

And with these numbers, I’m not even including the statistics of the number of women homeless, sexually abused, victims of domestic violence, and inequality across industries. This is why we still need feminism.

[READ: Feminist Podcasts: 5 Shows You Will Want to Follow]

And what about the women of color, hispanics, and LGBTQ humans? These individuals face double the trouble with discriminations on their gender and status. It’s statistics like these and stories of victims that have gotten my blood boiling and me talking about feminism – gender inequality.

I encourage you to join the conversation and voice your thoughts on my instagram channel.

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I read an article in the New York Time that now after almost 200 years, a major manufacture will start selling colored ballet slippers. This is a great achievement, but I’ve been blinded by my white privileged because I honestly never knew it was a problem. This reaction reminds me more than ever that I need to diversify my OWN life. I need more humans of different backgrounds, religions, cultures, and ethnicities in my life to challenge my deeply rooted biases and make me more aware of the still segregated actions of simple things like ballet shoes. 😳😢 . . . . #mindbodygram #iamwellandgood #healthyish #wellness #intuitiveliving #raiseyourfrequency #spiritjunkie #raiseyourvibration #healyourself #thejoysquad #flashesofdelight #pursuepretty #darlingweekend #livecolorfully #petitejoys #abmhappylife #abmlifeisbeautiful #myunicornlife #livethelittlethings #vscogood #theartofslowliving #chasinglight #realsimple #littlestoriesofmylife #socality #finditliveit #makemoments #postitfortheaesthetic #visualoflife

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But I think of myself as a modern day women, and I do believe feminism needs to be modernised to fit the current world. We should also be critical of how modern feminism has played out; it shouldn’t be a selfish pursuit.

What is a modern day feminist?

We do need to modernize feminism because the tactics that worked the past 100-years will not all work today. We need to modernize our voices, how we communicate about feminism – it’s about more than just women – and rally our best allies into the playing field – MEN. Men are our greatest allies, and we need to have them on our side if we are to close the remaining gap of inequality.

This video sums up what a modern day feminist is to me. We have to wade through the negativity that has pegged this term – not just feminism, but modern feminism – and create something positive. A feminist isn’t about shaming men. It’s not about complaining. It’s not about cursing, or playing the mean woman that puts others down.

There’s a DIFFERENCE between strength and a bully. Search your morals. Look to elementary school. You will know the difference.

A modern day feminist means several things to me:

  • It’s someone that hasn’t accepted the status quo. You can look at how far we’ve come and celebrate. Please celebrate, but please don’t settle. A modern day feminist keeps pushing the status quo. Fighting for true equality; not the second place.
  • It’s someone that puts on the hat of the questioner. They question everything and encourage people to think! Do you agree with the current gender structures in society, home, and business? Do you agree with the current choices that are given to women, and that are not given? Do you think this is the way it’s supposed to be?
  • It’s someone that believes in choice. A women has choice over what she wears, who she is, and what she does with her body without social redicual. If you want to wear the sexy dress; wear it and with confidence. It’s also important to say that this “me” movement in modern feminism is about you, but it’s ALSO about others. I encourage you to look broader. Fight for the choices of all women, because we are in this together.
  • It’s someone that believes in equality for ALL. I will admit it – and write it down to remind myself – I am a privileged white women, upper class, and living in a modernized country. I’m very lucky! It’s now time to focus on the collective. Feminism used to just be about the inequality between men and women. It’s now an inequality fight between women of different backgrounds, cultures, statuses, and races. Diversity is the future of the world. It brings strength, so a modern day feminist is someone that believes in the equality of ALL. Even the equality of men. I want to see more men in elementary education, as nurses, and in stereotypical women roles. I want equality for all.

For me, modern day feminism can mean many different points. The largest one would be the last. We modernize feminism by adding it to the larger discussion of inequality across all factions of society. I’m a feminist, and I will say it proudly. I believe in the equality of all.

What do you believe?

Read more on the subject:
FEMINIST PODCASTS: 5 SHOWS YOU WANT TO FOLLOW
ARE WE READY TO DITCH THE WORD ‘WOMEN’ IN WOMEN LEADERSHIP?
WOMEN LEADERSHIP CONFERENCES: MUST ATTEND EVENTS 2019

2018-12-06T10:58:47+00:00

About the Author:

Megan Thudium writes to elevate others through actionable and insight writing on topics like women leadership, gender equality and purposeful living. She lives in Berlin, Germany as a technology marketer and travels whenever possible.