Is Feminism Dead Essay, Research Paper
Is Feminism Dead? What is feminism? There are many different readings of the word & # 8221 ; feminism & # 8221 ; . However, most people agree that feminism is the theory that menand adult females should be equal politically, economically and socially. The feministmovement is a group of work forces and adult females who believe in feminism and are tryingto eliminate the inequality between work forces and adult females. Feminism, as it was foremost known, has about died out wholly. Feministgroups today are incorporating many more issues into feminism. This seems to bea good thing at first. However, it is driving adult females off from feminism and manywomen are insulted or embarrassed to be called women’s rightists because of thenegative intension feminism has adopted. There are many different types of feminism. The theory that there arefundamental personality differences between work forces and adult females, and that adult females & # 8217 ; sdifferences are particular and should be celebrated is called cultural feminism. Thistheory of feminism supports the impression that there are biological differencesbetween work forces and adult females, for illustration, & # 8220 ; adult females are kinder and more soft thenmen & # 8221 ; , taking to the outlook that if adult females ruled the universe there would be nowars. Cultural feminism is the theory that wants to get the better of sexism bycelebrating adult females & # 8217 ; s particular qualities, adult females & # 8217 ; s ways, and adult females & # 8217 ; s experiences, frequently believing that the & # 8220 ; adult female & # 8217 ; s manner & # 8221 ; is the better manner. Another type, individualist feminism, is based upon individualist orlibertarian ( minimal authorities or anarchocapitalist ) doctrines. The primaryfocus is single liberty, rights, autonomy, independency and diverseness. Moderate feminism is a subdivision of feminism that tends to be populated largely byyounger adult females or adult females who have non straight experienced favoritism. They tend to oppugn the demand for farther attempt, and do non believe that radicalfeminism is any longer feasible and in fact instead abashing. Extremist feminism is the genteelness land for many of the thoughts arisingfrom feminism. This type of feminism was the cutting border of feminist theoryfrom about 1967-1975. It is no longer as universally accepted as it wasthen and no longer serves to entirely specify the term, & # 8220 ; feminism & # 8221 ; . This group viewsthe subjugation of adult females as the most cardinal signifier of subjugation, one thatcuts across boundaries of race, civilization, and economic category. This is a movementintent on societal alteration, alteration of instead radical proportions, in fact. Extremist feminism inquiries why adult females must follow certain functions based on theirbiology, merely as it inquiries why work forces adopt certain other functions based on theirs ( Colleen & # 8217 ; s Feminist Home page ) . Feminism is non a really old construct. For most of history adult females have beenviewed as the lesser sex and did non reason this point. However, there have beensome really powerful and influential adult females in history. Cleopatra the powerful but, doomed queen of Egypt ( 51-30 BC ) came torule with her brother at age 17 and entirely at age 20. Another female swayer, Elizabeth I was the most successful sovereign of all time tosit on the English throne. Her reign, known in English history as the Elizabethanperiod, was an epoch of great achievement in England. She transformed thepoverty-stricken England into a great military power. Nancy Witcher Langhorne Astor who in 1910, became involved in herhusband & # 8217 ; s work in Parliament. In 1919 her hubby was elevated to the House ofLords. Nancy ran for the place vacated by her hubby in the House of Commonsand was elected by a significant bulk. She was the first adult female to be amember of Parliament in Britain. Geraldine Ferraro, who gained influence with the Democratic party afterbeing elected to the House of Representatives was chosen by Walter Mondale in1984 to be his frailty president. Ferraro was the first female vice-presidentnominee. In 1988, Benazir Bhutto was sworn in as Prime Minister and became thefirst adult female to head the authorities of an Islamic province. As a consequence of herleadership of the Pakistan Peoples Party she has spent a sum of 6 old ages inprison. Since being sworn in she has emphasized the demand to cut down sexualdiscrimination, institute plans for wellness and the underprivileged, and makeeducation reforms. ( Distinguished Women Past and Present ) These adult females have shown women’s rightists and nonfeminists alike that womencan do anything they put their heads to. These adult females have besides shown work forces thatwomen are capable of making what was traditionally thought of as & # 8220 ; work forces & # 8217 ; s work & # 8221 ; . These adult females and their accomplishments helped to excite the adult females & # 8217 ; smovement and the powerful adult females of the late 20th century have helped tokeep a deceasing feminist motion alive. The beginning of feminism in the United States can non be traced back toany specific event. Olive Banks, a professor of sociology at the University ofLeicester, finds it best to speak about the history of feminism with & # 8220 ; the chief unit ofanalysis [ as ] the cohort or coevals, based on twelvemonth of birth & # 8221 ; . She identifies fourcohorts with the first consisting of those born before 1828 stand foring the firstgeneration of the adult females & # 8217 ; s motion. The first cohort is active although unorganised. It includes adult females likeCaroline Norton who & # 8220 ; successfully stage-managed the first piece of feministlegislation in 1839 & # 8243 ; . Other outstanding members of the first cohort & # 8220 ; include someof the earliest innovators in the instruction of misss, like Anne Jemima Clough, Frances Mary Buss and the two Shirreff sisters, every bit good as most of the Owenitesocialist women’s rightists like Anna Wheeler and Frances Wright & # 8221 ; . The 2nd cohort were born between 1828 and 1848. It includes ElizabethGarrett Anderson and Sophia Jex-Blake, & # 8220 ; who between them pioneered theopening of the medical profession to adult females, Emily Davies who opened highereducation to adult females, several nineteenth-century right to vote leaders such as HelenBlackburn, Ursula Bright, and Millicent Garrent Fawcett, and Josephine Butler, afeminist who is best known for battle against the Contagious Diseases Acts. The 3rd cohort were born within the old ages 1849 and 1871. At this clip, & # 8221 ; the right to vote issue had begun to take precedency over all else and it is thiscohort & # 8230 ; that provided the leading of the right to vote motion as it moved intothe 20th century & # 8221 ; . Outstanding adult females in this group included EmmelinePankhurst and Emmeline Pethick-Lawrence, both hawkish leaders, ConstanceLytton & # 8220 ; who became one of the motion & # 8217 ; s sufferer, and on the & # 8220 ; constitutionalside & # 8221 ; were Helena Swanwick, Isabella Ford, and Frances Balfour. Banks & # 8217 ; s 4th and concluding cohort were born between 1872 and 1891. They & # 8221 ; stand for the last coevals of first-wave & # 8217 ; feminism & # 8221 ; . Most were swept up intothe right to vote run as immature adult females like Christabel and Sylvia Pankhurst.This coevals & # 8220 ; saw the partial success of the right to vote run in 1918, andits concluding success in 1928 & # 8243 ; ( Banks 4-5 ) . These adult females and many countless others are responsible for thenineteenth amendment which was introduced to Congress in 1878 and eventuallyratified in 1920 without being changed ( Barber ) . Since the confirmation of the 19th amendment, our society haschanged wholly particularly for adult females. Since the 1920s our society has seenmany alterations for adult females such as the importance of higher instruction, namelycollege, a immense addition in propertyless adult females, a media that caters to adult females, cognition about gender, birth control, and alterations within the household unit ( Burke 21 ) . World War II was a turning point for adult females. Now, alternatively of beingkept out of the work force, adult females were & # 8220 ; welcomed into mills, stores, andjust about anyplace they were willing to work & # 8221 ; . They became & # 8220 ; skilled workers inairplane and born-again car parts & # 8221 ; , cab drivers, and authorities workers ( Burke27 ) . The 1960ss brought about the civil rights motion, the Vietnam War, thebirth control pill, a switching economic system, and a new adult females & # 8217 ; s motion ( Burke 33-34 ) .
During the past 20 or so old ages, feminism has taken on an entirelydifferent significance. Paula Kamen interviewed 103 nonactivists and found that thestereotypical women’s rightist is perceived as a & # 8220 ; bra-burni
ng, hairy-legged, amazon, emasculating, militant-almost-antifeminine, Communist, Marxist, separationist, femaleskinhead, female supremacist, he-woman, [ sapphic ] , [ butch ] , man-hater, man-basher, wanting-men’s-jobs, wanting- to-dominate- work forces, want-to-be-men, war-short-hair-to-look-unattractive, bizarre-chicks-running-around-doing-kooky-things, I-am-a-woman-hear-me-roar, edgy, angry, white-middle-class radicals” . Of the adult females interviewed, “most didn’t identify with feminism or want to beassociated with it on a personal or political degree. The great sarcasm is that althoughfeminism has by and large made a enormous difference in the perceptual experiences andopportunities in many of these people’s lives, it is something that they almostuniversally shun” ( Kamen 23 ) . When asked if adult females had achieved equalitynearly everyone responded “no” . The issues which provoked the strongestfeelings were “violence against adult females, unafraid abortion rights, and…equal payfor equal work” . Other issues included “child attention and wellness demands, especiallyfor individual female parents, and racism’s effects on adult females. The household was a major issuethroughout conversations that called for more tolerance of women’s picks anda higher rating and more support for motherhood” . Many adult females are afraid to name themselves women’s rightists because of thefeminist stereotype. In View, a magazine for college adult females, conducted a canvass inSeptember of 1989. Out of 514 female undergraduates, “90 % agreed that menand adult females should gain equal wage for equal work ; 93 % said that adult females wantequality with work forces ; 84 % agreed that adult females should hold entree to deliver control, irrespective of age or matrimonial position ; 90 % believed that sexism still exists”.However, merely 16 % of them adult females polled said they were decidedly feminists.33 % decidedly did non see themselves women’s rightists ( Kamen 33-34 ) . Why don’t adult females like those polled feel that they are women’s rightists even thoughthey are, harmonizing to what they say, holding with the women’s rightist theory? Thereare many grounds. First, “many [ adult females ] explained that they are non women’s rightists because theyprefer the female manner of life, non the male one” . Many adult females want and enjoy theprivileges that go with being a adult female such as holding the door opened for them. Second, because of feminism’s focal point on callings, adult females withoutprofessional aspirations do non see the feminist motion as associating to them andeven view it as antimotherhood. Third, others feel that “feminists deny what is feminine” , and 4th, “theyassociate feminism with lesbians” . Many adult females “thought feminism did togender what communism theoretically does to category: rub out any distinctions” . Fifth, adult females think women’s rightists “hate work forces or believe that adult females should besuperior to them” . Sixth, others didn’t experience that the battle for women’s rights was personallyrelevant to them ( Kamen 35-36 ) . In general, adult females seem to hold many ideas on the women’s rightist stereotypeand it is turning many adult females off from contending for equality. “The media’scaricature of feminism, combined with some bad wonts in the motion itself, has lead many adult females to see the arm of pro-woman political relations with distaste.The weapon’s ain rigidness keeps it from accommodating itself to the mean woman’shand” and this is doing many people to see feminism as dead ( Wolf 59 ) . Today, there are merely excessively many issues being tied in with feminism. Modernfeminism has drawn a really unsympathetic image of itself. It has become toopolitical affecting such controversial issues such as abortion, sapphism, andpornography. It has become excessively restricted in ways that lead people to believe thatits merely for middle-class white adult females, for contending against work forces, about notwearing make-up and chopping one’s hair off. Who is at mistake? The media hasplayed a big function in the decease of feminism as it was known it the beginning. However, the extremist women’s rightists themselves gave the media merely what they werelooking for. Extremist women’s rightists who believe that adult females should non give birth, getmarried even if in love, engage in anything “frivolous” , or be even the slightest bitvulnerable have no 1 to fault but themselves. The media loves to describe oneccentric ways and the extremist women’s rightists gave them merely what they wanted ( Wolf60-62 ) . Christine, a twenty-eight-year-old secretary describes the metropolis in which shelives. She says that it has “a really strong “left” group of women’s rightists. They are astrong group that dominates many organizations…In my sentiment, this group isalso responsible for undermining these organizations… . It has been difficult…toget adult females to mobilize… Many of the [ extremist women’s rightists ] attend many meetings.They about ne’er offer solutions or constructive unfavorable judgment and because of thenegative feeling they bring with them, they leave many adult females experiencing alienatedor confused” ( Wolf 63 ) . Christine is non the lone adult female who feels this way.From polls, letters, and interviews it can be seen that the bulk of adult females feelexactly as Christine ( Wolf 60 ) . XXXXXX, an helper to the Dean of Business at XXXXX University, feelsthat “feminism is dead” and has “taken on many issues” . When asked if she wasa women’s rightist, she rapidly retorted “No, I’m non a feminist” as if it was an insultinglabel. She feels that “women have non won entire equality” and will non make so “in [ her ] lifetime” . She feels equality for adult females “is important” . And although shehas ne’er experienced an inequality due to her sex, she has “been sexuallyharassed” . If allowed to retrace the feminist motion to her ain positions, shewould dressed ore on the issues of “violence against adult females, pro-choice, andequal pay” with “violence against adult females being the most important” . Feminismhas run out of control. It “has become a checklist of attitudes” ( Wolf 60 ) . Womendo non desire this. They want to back up feminism and name themselves feministsbut, they need to be able to associate to the motion. Not all adult females findtoday’s feminist motion excessively restrictive. Womans like, Lynne Spender, who in adiary, describes happening felicity and a new sense of being in feminism. Aftermoving to Canada and reaching a “feminist friend of [ her ] sister” , she startedgoing to meetings for “Women Against Violence Against Women” and “feminism [ became her ] manner of life” ( Rowland 122-125 ) . This seems to be a rare casebecause from what the surveies and polls show, feminism is deceasing. Can feminism be salvaged? There are still of import women’s issues to beresolved such as unequal wages, domestic force, and colza. Thoughwomen’s rights has come a long manner, adult females are still non equal. Womans need totake action and with feminism in its present province, adult females will non see equality fora long clip. Feminism can be salvaged but, some major alterations must foremost takeplace. First, feminism must reorganise and refocus itself. The focal point of feminismshould be equality for adult females, non sapphic issues, non minority issues. Feminismis different and must divide itself if it wants to see a resurgence. That’s non to saythat minorities and tribades can non be women’s rightists. It is merely imperative thatdifferent motions must non blend. Today’s feminists must recognize thatthey are frightening adult females off. Second, feminism must alter the stereotype of the mean feminist.Women, and people in general, do non desire to be seen as something they are not.Included in the stereotype are political factors. Political political orientation should non turnpeople off from fall ining a group. If feminism can do these alterations, certainly more adult females would joingroups and volunteer their clip to contend for women’s equality. Hopefully, today’sfeminists will recognize this so feminism, in theoretical and undistorted signifier, cansurvive. Womans need this because even though the feminist motion hascome a really long manner and our society has made enormous progresss, womenare still being beaten in their places with “more than 2 + million womenexperienc [ ing ] force annually” ( National Crime Victimization Survey1987-1991: Statisticss on Women ) . This should be a signal that something needsto be done. If the feminist motion can reform itself, it may be able to makemany more great achievements for adult females.