Feminism, over the past few years, has been a controversial topic. But what exactly is feminism? Is it man-hating? Is it only for bitter females? What is it really? It is actually a very simple term to understand.
Feminism is “the belief that men and women should have equal rights and opportunities,” according to Merriam-Webster.
What feminists want is to have both genders treated fairly in all aspects of life, including equal pay, rights and respect. The simple idea of feminism is a universal idea that benefits everyone.
Over the last one hundred years, women’s rights have increased significantly with the passing of the 19th amendment granting women the right to vote. Since then, women have surpassed all of the limits that were once put on them. With all of the progress that has been achieved, there are still necessary improvements to be made.
Women’s wages have been the most discussed topic regarding feminism. The reason being women aren’t typically paid fairly in comparison to their male coworkers.
“Women with full-time jobs still earn only about 77 percent of their male counterparts’ earnings,” according to WhiteHouse.gov. That statistic is true, but it’s important to note that the women they are speaking of are Caucasian. For different ethnic groups, the wage gap is even greater.
African-American women earn 69 cents and Latina women earn 60 cents for every dollar earned by a Caucasian man, according to ThinkProgress.org. These statistics prove that there is still a lot of progress to be made. This is what drives feminists to make a change.
“About three-in-ten Americans surveyed said that having more women leaders in both business and government would improve the quality of life for women across the country,” according to Fortune.com.
In the workforce, a lot of women are not considered for higher positions for many different reasons. One major reason is that employers plan for these women to get married, start a family and take time off to raise their kids. Therefore, it becomes too much of a risky investment to put these women into power. Long held stereotypes unfortunately play a major part in the lack of women leaders in business. Corporations unfairly hold women accountable for the potential of motherhood down the line, which limits access for women.
Many celebrities have spoken out on this controversial issue and have been advocates for change. Emma Watson has been a huge spokeswoman for the HeforShe Campaign and has been shedding light on feminism. In her recent speech for the United Nations, she debunked the negative stereotypes of gender equality saying, “The fight for women’s right has too often become synonymous with man-hating.”
For someone who isn’t informed about feminism, man-hating is usually linked to it. Man-hating isn’t the goal for feminists and has never been the goal. It is nearly impossible to shed light on feminism without the support of men, so man-hating would be ludicrous. An interesting point that Emma Watson brings up in her speech is that men are imprisoned by gender stereotypes as well.
Men have always had to live up to always being tough, aggressive and never sensitive. It is shunned in our society if a man has too many feelings. They get called “gay,” “weak,” “feminine,” etc. Feminists support these men just as much as they do women. Men should be allowed to be vulnerable and open with their feelings. Allowing unrealistic gender roles in our society stops each individual from being the person they are meant to be.
“It is time that we see gender as a spectrum instead of two sets of opposing ideals,” Watson said. Feminism is an important social issue that needs the attention of everyone today. Although this topic has caused a lot of controversy, gender equality is a worthwhile goal that benefits society and ensures a more harmonious future.