While the word feminist may conjure up images of bra-burning, hairy armpitted, saggy boobed, middle aged women; 2012 proved to be a good year for feminism, demonstrating to the less informed public that in reality feminists are nothing to fear.
To start with, we should look to define the key words in this issue to avoid misunderstanding; feminism is “the advocacy of women’s rights on the ground of the equality of the sexes”. Therefore there is no view that women are better then men, which would actually be a misandrist (the female equivalent of a misogynist). However the rarity of knowledge of misandrist sadly means that feminist is commonly used in its place. The oxford dictionary stated that while misogynist featured over 1,200 times in the Oxford English Corpus, misandrist only featured 23 times. (The spell check on my laptop doesn’t even recognize it as a word!)
In order for feminism to stop being such a feared topic there needs to be an increase in education as to what the word means and the correct time to use it. It currently is so feared and misunderstood that a female admitting she is a “feminist” is viewed by many as social suicide; and probably seen by most males as good grounds to not ask you on a second date.
In the past year gender equality has also gained an unlikely star, gorgeous actor Ryan Gosling has been labelled 2012’s face of feminism. It all started with a small meme created by frustrated gender studies student Danielle Henderson; she intended it to be a source of entertainment for her classmates. However the combination of Ryan’s distinct cheekbones and her intellectual theory garnered higher interest then she previously anticipated; it has now developed into a popular blog and new book “Feminist Ryan Gosling. Feminist Theory [As Imagined] from Your Favourite Sensitive Movie Dude”. Although previous to writing the book Henderson had no actual knowledge as to Gosling’s views on the topic, The Sunday Times recently wrote an article naming him Feminist Man of the Year. Alongside other males; Barack Obama, Danny Boyle, Alber Elbaz, Damien Lewis and Aaron Taylor-Smith, Gosling is celebrated in the article for dating intelligent older women as oppose to brainless, long-legged supermodels. While other members on the list have been celebrated for adopting their wives surnames in marriage (Aaron Taylor-Smith) and for taking time out of work so that their wives could pursue careers as well (Damian Lewis, Homeland actor).
[How very modern Scandinavian male of them!]
Although being married to wonder-woman Michelle was sighted as one reason Barack made the list, his main feminist act of the year was beating Mitt Romney in this year’s election. While my article is not a politically based one, it would be hard to ignore the openly misogynistic nature behind the policies backed by Mitt Romney and his running mate Paul Ryan. With the topic of abortion being a delicate issue, it was Ryan’s political choices that garnered Romney negative publicity; the Sanctity of Human Act was controversial in its views that raped women should not be allowed an abortion. On top of this Ryan also backed a bill that would allow hospitals to deny emergency abortions even if it lead to the death of the mother. To add insult to injury for American females, he voted numerous times against equal pay for both genders and then again against the increase of protection for abused women. Now while none of these policies can be traced directly back to Romney himself, the choice of such a man as a running mate sends a clear message to the public on how he views females. Why would any self-respecting educated woman vote for someone who clearly puts their rights behind those of males?
When looking at the implications of the term feminism, it is key to understand that the sole meaning should be ‘Equality’ and not superiority for either gender. Furthermore, while feminism used to be characterized by the view that women should say “NO”, to marriage, children, femininity and sexuality; new wave feminism bases itself on women’s right to choose. The modern feminist no longer holds onto anti-patriarchy angst and beliefs that the personal is political, new views are based around equal opportunities and the understanding that while both genders are different, in regards to human rights sex should be indifferent. So with heart-aching stories of Indian bus rapes and the lack of independence for most females in many Middle Eastern countries bombarding our news channels weekly, is it not fair to say that we all should be proud feminists in 2013?