Feminism: Debunking Myths and Embracing Legacy
1917: A Pivotal Moment in Feminism and the Indomitable Spirit of Alice Paul
1917. The days are shorter, and the nights are longer; the year is approaching its final month of fall in November as winter creeps in, making room for December to start in Washington, D.C. The district is in constant motion; public transit is in a never-ending loop as women and children rush to catch the bus. Dark-colored sack suits moved from all directions as the poignant smell of the cigarette lingers like a fine line in the cold streets of the political hub.
A group of protestors seems to overwhelm every corner of the landscape, all advocating a different cause, but mostly, you can see people anxiously waiting for the arrival of their military men as the war approaches its final year. But as one war slowly comes to a conclusion, another fight begins to brew at the steps of the White House as a crowd of women gather and hold signs that yell, “Mr. President, how long must women wait for liberty?”. The media didn’t sleep last night, and neither did these women.
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The New York Times and a variety of other sources early that week published an article on the treatment of Alice Paul, an American suffragist, feminist, and women’s rights activist; she made the headlines as a “Hunger Striker prisoner forcibly fed.” Alice Paul was taken to an Asylum Hospital where nurses strapped her in a wooden chair and used white sheets to grip her wrists and ankles to keep her from moving during the procedure. They pulled her head back until it was parallel to the ground, and the doctor wrapped another sheet on her throat. The leading doctor took a long, clear plastic tube and put it down one of her nostrils. They attached a funnel to the other end and poured a whipped mixture of eggs and milk down the tube.
These painful procedures were done three times a day. Until the women were released by the president due to the public’s roar of sympathy when hearing about the brutal conditions and procedures. The country doesn’t know it yet, but this revolutionary act was the start of the first wave that would lead us to where we are now: the fourth wave of Feminism. It’s rare to see how a moment in 1917 has such a vast contribution to my life right now. The other day, as I was walking to class, I had a student approach me for voter registration updates; I didn’t think much of it, updated my information without hesitation, and carried on with my day.
Modern Perspectives on Feminism: Voices from Arizona State University Students
It wasn’t until I took a moment to reflect on how easy it was to just say, “Yes’ let me register so I can vote, that I realized back then I didn’t have that right. I believe a variety of important movements that have been successful in the past are acknowledged but never truly understood. These “radical” women, as described at that time, were able to accomplish a huge moment of gender equality for the country, which was the 19th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution that permitted women to vote. And due to that struggle and persistence, I have the opportunity to speak my voice and opinions through a vote. As time continued, so did Feminism. Today, we see movements such as the #MeToo movement that have been going on since 2006 represent some of the core values of Feminism.
To establish and achieve political, economic, personal, and social equality of sexes. In this case, the #MeToo movement finds it necessary to bring equal justice to the people who have been sexually harassed in their lifetime. As time continues to progress, we see more movements take place in social, political, and economic industries. I am a female who defines herself as a feminist, but I never knew how to defend the ideology or understand what it means to support it. So, out of sheer curiosity, I asked a couple of my classmates what Feminism meant to them.
Aleiah Williams, a sophomore at Arizona State University who studies Japanese, said, “I think it’s an uh good thing, but there is a lot of prejudice against it, such as because of our social gender norms that have been enforced in our society.” And then we have Albert Perez, also a sophomore at Arizona State University studying engineering, “Umm, okay that, where women get over defensive about their gender, right, or is that something else? (Pause) I was going to say that gender is more of a construct than an actual thing. I don’t think gender should really separate anyone. Have you ever seen Judge Judy? Every time I think of Feminism, I think of her. I am not a female judge; I’m just a judge that happens to be a female.” Lastly, Maria Sandoval, a freshman at Glendale Community College who studies Biology, mentioned that “Feminist for a culture is really difficult to explain or make sense of since the way women and men grow up is something that has been passed down from generation to generation.” Aside from the comments that weren’t included, I saw a constant trend in how many people who view Feminism only saw females as the one-sided benefactors.
Deconstructing Myths: Gender Equality, Feminism, and Misconceptions in the 21st Century
The truth of the matter is that gender equality in all forms benefits the whole community, not just one gender. This ideology of gender equality and empowerment seems like the dose of morality that a nation might need, no? Unfortunately, as rights activists and feminist movements continue to grow all around the country, a variety of misconceptions also follow, and this is due to a growing population, personal interpretation, or simply a lack of interest. Yet there’s more than one at stake. Furthermore, it’s evident that men and women are biologically different, yet “it is the more creative person, the more intelligent person, the more innovative person, and there are no hormones for those attributes.
A man is as likely as a woman to be intelligent, to be creative, to be innovative. We have evolved, but it seems to me that our ideas of gender have not evolved” (Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie). Meaning that it’s a disservice to men and women to not allow them to reach their full potential in society if we constantly uphold these imbalanced gender regulations. Progress comes with breaking down barriers such as gender gaps of all forms in life, emasculation, and narrow mindsets of woman domestication. Let’s start by acknowledging 3 of the misconceptions about Feminism that are surfacing in the 21st century. For starters, we have the idea that feminists hate men.
The word feminism has become synonymous with the term “man-hater.” The majority of people who suggest this synonymity are individuals who haven’t identified the core values of feminists. Feminists are in no way against or, in other words, “loathing men.” To illustrate, The Psychology of Women Quarterly posted a study on “Are Feminists Man Haters? Feminists’ and Nonfeminists’ Attitudes Toward Men” and found some pretty interesting results, “Despite the popular belief that feminists dislike men, few studies have actually examined the empirical accuracy of this stereotype. The present study examined self-identified feminists’ and nonfeminists’ attitudes toward men. An ethnically diverse sample (N = 488) of college students responded to statements from the Ambivalence Toward Men Inventory (AMI; Glick & Fiske, 1999).
Feminism Decoded: Unraveling Stereotypes and Embracing Gender Equity for All
Contrary to popular belief, feminists reported lower levels of hostility toward men than did nonfeminists. The persistence of the myth of the man-hating feminist is explored” (American Psychological Association). Feminists are against the patriarchy. They are in opposition to the way the society we live in functions, a society that has been dominated by male tyranny and has historically favored men. Being a feminist doesn’t imply that you need to despise the opposite sex for the rest of your life; you merely need to acknowledge the exclusive imbalance of authority that men have in modern society. To continue, the idea where the term feminazi was born out of how feminists thought women were the dominant gender. The misconception that feminists are all yearning for female domination and takeover is perhaps the most insulting aspect of the feminist name. Even though the title feminism seems contradictory to gender equity since the name only has females, their mission is solely gendered equity.
To illustrate, in Bell Hooks’s book Feminism is for Everybody, she states how “a struggle against sexist oppression. Its aim is not to benefit solely any specific group of women, any particular race or class of women. It does not privilege women over men. It has the power to transform in a meaningful way all our lives. Most importantly, Feminism is neither a lifestyle nor a ready-made identity or role one can step into” (51). The attempt to bring men down and women up is immoral. But to bring women up to the same level that men are at, that’s called gender equity. So that means feminists do not think that the wage gap should be reversed so that women make more money than men so they can experience injustice, nor do they think that the president of the United States should be exclusively female from here on out. Lastly, the final concept that I found important to clarify is that if I try to include all of them, we will be here for quite some time. Is the third misconception of Feminism that you have to be female to be a feminist? This is more than likely the most stressful misconception since it has caused the most damage when a feminist attempts to move forward in society.
Redefining Masculinity: The Vital Role of Men in Feminism and the Pursuit of Equality
By supporting the idea of gender equity that classifies someone as a type A feminist. To illustrate, in Bell Hooks’s book Feminism is for Everybody, she states how “In patriarchal social structures, both men and women are similarly socialized into the mindset that men must maintain dominance over women culturally, economically and politically. This situation has given rise to the feminist struggle for liberation and equality” (33). Many have expressed how calling oneself a feminist and being a male will make them seem less masculine, but that correlation lacks so much since it is simply untrue. Advocating gender equity and supporting the opposite sex trials and tribulations that are unjustifiable represent an optimistic mindset. Due to the patriarchal society, it is without a doubt that women need male support in order for women’s voices to be heard and for change to occur.
In conclusion, the misconceptions of Feminism could be represented in 1,000 meanings, all being dictated by an informative or lack of attentiveness post on social media. As students continue to become more and more active participants in society, I find it crucial and even necessary to consider exploring an ideology, movement, or something that represents, protects, and helps progress their identity and opportunities as a person. This will only enhance their understanding of the world and educate them to later not be a victim and easily manipulated by the misconceptions of an ideology that can potentially be something that will help them reach their true potential.
- Hooks, B. (2000). Feminism is for Everybody: Passionate Politics. South End Press.
- Adichie, C. N. (2014). We should all be feminists. Anchor.
- Valenti, J. (2007). Full frontal feminism: A young woman’s guide to why feminism matters. Seal Press.
- Friedan, B. (1963). The Feminine Mystique. W.W. Norton & Company.
- Glick, P., & Fiske, S. T. (1999). The Ambivalence Toward Men Inventory. Psychology of Women Quarterly, 23(3), 519-536.
- Wolf, N. (1991). The Beauty Myth. Chatto & Windus.
- Steinem, G. (1983). Outrageous acts and everyday rebellions. Holt, Rinehart, and Winston.
- Tong, R. (2009). Feminist Thought: A More Comprehensive Introduction. Westview Press.
- Millett, K. (1970). Sexual Politics. Doubleday.
- Rowbotham, S. (1973). Women, Resistance, and Revolution. Pantheon Books.