Feminism in the Modern World: How Do We Define Equality Now?

Carolyn Fenerty, Writer

Feminism has become a dirty word recently. Celebrities like Kelly Clarkson and Shailene Woodley have said in interviews that they do not consider themselves feminists, because they associate the movement with hating men. Now, many people prefer words like ‘equalists.’

As it encompasses every 21st Century women’s activist movement from Malala Yousafzai‘s stand against the Taliban in the name of women’s education to Beyonce’s 2014 VMA performance, it is understandable that modern feminism has gained a controversial reputation around the world and right here at FHS.

Is feminism necessary in the modern age?

Some say that sexism is a problem of the past, while others pursue a more radical feminist agenda.

First world feminism encompasses issues including the wage gap – argued by some to be caused by women’s career and education choices, and by others to be caused by gender discrimination.

A recent study at Yale, where the names John and Jane were put on otherwise identical applications, found that women applicants were seen as less competent and generally offered less money.

However, other factors, including that women have children, which makes them more risky potential employees and affects their career decisions, could also contribute to the wage gap. Fox News thinks that the wage gap is a hoax, and not a reflection of gender bias. Although studies show that, on average, (white) women earn 77 cents for every $1 earned by a man, both discrimination and societal factors may contribute to that number.

Maybe feminism is less controversial in first world countries when applied to countries that are considered less developed.

Nobel Peace Prize-winner Malala Yousafzai was shot in the head in 2012 by the Taliban for advocating for women’s education, and today is one of the most famous activists for women’s education and rights, especially in the Middle East, in the world. She has faced considerable backlash in her activism, including the recent “I Am Not Malala” Day in Pakistani schools.

Pakistani women’s education and rights’ advocate Malala Yuosafzai

Source: communitytable.com

“In Pakistan, when we were stopped from going to school, at that time I realized that education … is the power for women, and that’s why the terrorists are afraid of education.” Malala told Jon Stewart in her famous interview on the Daily Show.

In contrast, issues in countries like the United States, being less life-threatening and seen as more trivial, are seen more negatively. Because of incredible increases in women’s rights in the last century, sexism is seen as no longer an issue in the United States, and in Franklin, which tends to be a more middle class and privileged, sexism is not as much of an issue.

Popular gender equality issues in the United States cover alleged dress code sexism, high rape-rates in the U.S. (especially by men on women), the wage gap, and military equality.

Beyonce, a pop culture feminist icon, offers another side of feminism, rejecting male sexualization of women in the media (such as the leak of female celebrities’ – and only female celebrities’ – nude photos this September), but also rejecting the idea that a woman must cover herself up to deserve respect.

Especially by older, less radical women, however, Beyonce’s feminist message can be seen as overly sexual and lacking in the self-respect that she endorses for herself through her sexuality.

Beyonce defines herself as a feminist by the definition of the word – a person who believes in the social, political, and economic equality of the sexes – in her song Flawless.

Emma Watson‘s speech at the U.N. last summer as the Women’s Goodwill Ambassador may offer a more moderate solution. Watson launched the #HeForShe campaign, which has been embraced by a number of male celebrities, and offered a view of feminism that concentrates on women’s rights and equality issues, as well as on how toxic masculinity in culture hurts men.

  

Harry Styles (One Direction), Matthew Lewis (Harry Potter), and Eddie Redmayne (Les Miserables) in support of #HeForShe

Source: guestofaguest.com

 #HeForShe calls for men and women to work together in fighting the problems both genders face based on gender roles and inequality in society.

For example, Watson mentions how masculine culture results in the idea that emotions are a sign of weakness in men, promoting emotional suppression, and higher rates of depression and suicide in men.

Is modern feminism an equality movement? Is it necessary? It all depends on perspective. In Franklin we have certain cultural and economic biases, but that doesn’t make our opinions invalid. And, as it has been since the beginning of the movement, the definition of feminism is fluid, and can be redefined to fit modern culture.

Is Modern Feminism Necessary?

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