By Soumya Kulkarni, Regular ContributorDecember 14, 2015
image via etsy.com
What is feminism?
Recently, I’ve seen a smattering of people who refuse to identify themselves with the term feminism, because it is “too strong” or because it implies misandry. However, I have also seen many people fighting to fix these stereotypes and develop the mission of the feminist movement.
The feminist movement began in the early 1900’s. Its original purpose was women’s suffrage. The Seneca Falls Convention of 1848 outlined the Declaration of Sentiments, which states, “We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men and women are created equal…,” adding the important word, “women.” Throughout history, the feminist movement has marginalized many groups. In general, the stories of people of color and LGBTQ+ people have long been ignored.
Modern feminism hopes to bridge these gaps.
For example, the book, Sophia: Princess, Suffragette, Revolutionary, by Anita Anand hopes to bring to light the story of an Indian princess who helped bring women’s suffrage to England. I’ve noticed that feminism often means something different for each person.
To some, feminism represents art. In the 1960’s and 1970’s, second wave feminism brought artists who hoped to address the struggles towards equality through popular culture. Famous artists included Miriam Schapiro (Anatomy of a Kimono-1974) and Judy Chicago. Photographers, such as Ashley Armitage, continue that trend today, encouraging women to love their bodies and embrace their flaws.
To others, feminism represents peace. Activists like Malala Yousafzai advocate for education for girls, because by allowing the other half of the world to participate in educated discussions we can bring an end to war. It also represents ending violence in relationships, regardless of who those relationships contain or how the individuals are related.
Feminism symbolizes a new future for technology. Organizations, such as Girls Who Code, hope to speed up innovation through the inclusion of girls. Feminism represents equality, and it represents eliminating double standards in the media and in pay wages. Modern feminism, such as Emma Watson’s He For She project, seeks to involve men in the feminist conversation.
Feminism means freedom.
It means destroying the gender biases about what little girls or little boys should do; changing what it means to be feminine; and redefining the phrases “being a real man” or “like a girl.”
Feminism signifies strength- just ask Serena Williams or any Army Ranger. For some, feminism is a lifeline, a movement that shows people that there are others like themselves who have experienced similar struggles and made it through. Feminism unites people and solves conflict. No matter what your definition of feminism is, it will never be a negative word. Don’t be afraid to call yourself a feminist and fight for the things you believe in.
What does feminism mean to you? Tell us below!
Soumya is a high schooler from the Midwest. In addition to writing, she loves chess, reading good books, chocolate, tea, new cities, and Harry Potter. She hopes to inspire others to follow their dreams as she embarks on her own journeys. Find her at her personal blog, ifturquoisecouldtalk.blogspot.com or tweet her @soumkulkarni.
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