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Feminism is a word, used to describe a political and philosophical doctrine that has been developed over the past century. This doctrine teaches that men and women are equal in value. In its original and pure meaning, feminism is the political movement working for the social, economic, cultural, and sexual equality of the sexes, with no consideration as to what sex or gender one belongs to. Yet things have changed. But today’s feminism has come to mean something different and is characterized by hostility and negativity, rather than equality. Instead of working to achieve positive goals that improve life for all, modern feminists embody the ‘angry feminist’ stereotype. Let’s not forget the good work of the past and its heroes. It was they, after all, who made it possible to have today’s feminism. They laid the foundations for our achievements and we need to build on them in our ways.
Has too many meanings given to the cause of feminism ruined the basic aim of the movement? To answer that question I would like to look at what is meant by feminism, its definition, and where it all began. The first step toward understanding feminism is to understand that the term has many meanings. Sometimes it refers to a political, social, and philosophical movement. At other times it refers to women’s struggle for equality. To complicate things even further, sometimes the word is used in a broad sense as a synonym for female or women’s rights and at other times it is taken to mean radical feminism. The problem with this multiplicity of meaning is that whenever you talk about feminism you reveal your perspective on the subject. At first glance, modern-day feminism has some similarities to the first wave of feminism. It is achieving basic rights for women, which in today’s society tends to be thought of as obvious.
A hundred years ago, the language of feminism was strong and unequivocal. Yet despite many gains, there were still disturbing questions being asked about what equality meant for women. Many said that even if you gave women the right to vote, even if you forswore chattel marriage, even if you offered them education, freedom, and the vote, your very next move might be to stop them from working and encourage them to have lots of children again.
Many have argued that the word Feminism has come to mean too many things so they now use other words for what they are talking about, or avoid the topic altogether. I think it might be better to embrace the broadness and use feminism as a starting point to talk about all kinds of discrimination which women still face today. Feminism has always been driven by women from a range of backgrounds and has encompassed a variety of causes. But for too long, others – men especially – have attempted to define feminism for us and even now dare to claim that “real” feminism is whatever suits their needs best.