No, no no. Not that F-word. The other one. You know… Feminism.
Welcome to Feminism 101 - our own little corner of the Other universe where we’ll explore all things feminist. Each new column will tackle a different aspect of feminism, from looking at women in media to gender roles/stereotypes, slut-shaming, reproductive rights, privilege, and much, much more.
Class is in session, so let’s get started! We’ll get the basics out of the way first by defining feminism - after all, it would help to know what we’ll be talking about. Feminism is a movement that strives for political, economic and social equality among women and men. Basically, feminists want to see that everyone gets a fair chance, and they work toward leveling the playing field, whether it’s in education, the workforce, or how women are viewed on a daily basis. Feminists are not “man-haters” and they don’t believe that women are better than men. And, contrary to popular stereotypes, many feminists shave their legs, wear make-up, and can rock a miniskirt like nobody else.
To help better explain just what a feminist is, the fab folks from the Feminist Majority Foundation put together this great video:
I still remember the day that I felt the pull to label myself as a feminist. I was in 10th grade and had just finished learning about the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fires in history class. Most of my classmates were doodling or counting down the minutes until lunch. I, on the other hand, was having a heated discussion with one of my favorite teachers ever, Dr. Tremaglio. I was furious that there had been no laws in place to prevent the deaths of 146 young women - many of them teenage immigrants. Why, I demanded, were there no laws in place to manage the working conditions these women faced? Why didn’t anybody care about them, their lives, or their potential? It was in that moment that I realized how far we had come, and how far we still had to go.
Back in 1911, when the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory burned to the ground, these poor, immigrant, young women were seen as less than, as expendable, and most importantly, as the “other.” It came as no surprise to me when I learned a few weeks later that at the same time in history women still didn’t have the right to vote. Not only were their lives seen as secondary, but their voices and opinions in political matters were being ignored and silenced as well. Nine years later, in 1920, and after almost 100 years of protesting and campaigning, women in the U.S. were finally given the right to vote.
That was my “a-ha” moment when it came to feminism. It spurred me to learn more about it and work toward continuing the fight toward true equality. And I’m still finding myself actively working toward progress in the name of feminism, whether that means taking my young son as we raise money for abortion access in a bowl-a-thon, or by helping to amplify the voices of those who continue to get stomped on by society.
Some folks say that we live in a “post-feminist” world, meaning that those feminists who came before us did their job, and we finally have a society where all their goals were achieved. Sadly, I disagree. There’s no justification for saying we live in a post-feminist world when women’s voices are being ignored in Hollywood, when female Olympians continue to be treated/viewed differently than male athletes, and when politicians are spreading misinformation about rape that impacts legislation, and so much more.
So here we are - a new generation of active feminists - spread across the globe, but connected via various online resources and hubs. We continue to fight for equality and respect for all - in the workplace, in the home, in education, on the sports field, in media representation, and via legislation. This series will explore all the different aspects of feminism: the fights we fight and the wrongs we try to right. I have a host of topics on deck to discuss, but I also want to know what *you* hope to learn about feminism - let me know below!
Your homework: Check out the Hey Girl: Feminist Ryan Gosling Tumblr! ♦