The F-Word

Feminism is defined by the Oxford Dictionary as 'a person who supports the belief that women should have the same rights and opportunities as men'. Which, in 2020, is something we all want, right? So why, when feminism comes up in conversation, has the word become taboo and often something that many people, both men and women alike, don't wish to identify with? 

 

Let us start from the beginning... 

When the suffragettes marched all those years ago, fighting for the right to vote, gender equality within politics was demanded. But now, when we look back at that time in history, it's clear to see that the priority was not that of all women, but upper-middle-class white women. 

When second-wave feminism appeared during the 1960s and 70s, the priority of the movement was ensuring that women had the right to education, the right to work and the rights to have control over their own reproductive system, the priorities began to readjust from voting rights to human rights, but yet still, working-class, black and minority ethnic (BAME) and transgender women were disregarded, often forgotten and dismissed as a whole. 

Third-wave and arguably fourth-wave feminism have, optimistically thinking, shifted towards more intersectional feminism. As activism and liberal politics continues to grow throughout western society, and the internet continues to provide platforms for everyone and anyone, social politics becomes malleable and therefore, an interchangeable belief of what particular movements stand for is placed at the forefront of debate. Feminism is no longer a singular movement which focuses on the well-being of a particular 'type' of feminist but has become an umbrella term, for all the groups who, at their core, advocate for gender equality.

 

So, like all groups, some are louder than others.

During the second-wave, a group known as 'radical feminists' began their movement, with many advocating for political lesbianism and lesbian separatism. Scholars such as Germaine Greer and Ti-Grace Atkinson rose to fame due to their beliefs around the patriarchy and concluded that abolishing the patriarchy is impossible if you don't remove all men from your life. Radical, right? 

And as the comedic phrase 'men are trash' trends on Twitter, defence mechanisms are built by everyone. People revert back to these groups as examples of what feminism supposedly is; a men-hating movement which doesn't have the best interest of all women at heart. But, that is not the case. Feminism, at its core, is a movement with all women, no matter what sexuality, age, race, class or religion, best interests at heart. 

Calling yourself a feminist holds a lot of weight, because it doesn't just label you as someone who advocates for women's rights, but it puts you in a position of scrutiny by people who's immediate perspective of a feminist is an angry, man-hater. Reclaiming the word feminist is something which is necessary because, without feminism, I wouldn't be writing on this platform today or have the privilege of gaining an education from a renowned university. Be proud to identify with this taboo word, because at its core, the movement wants equality and the end to gender discrimination, which IS a good thing.