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The true definition of feminism 

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By Kevin Mercado

 

Allow me to explain a concept that has been ingrained in our heads for centuries, but is now commonly misconstrued and misunderstood: feminism.

I feel the need to explain what this term truly means because it is no longer being used to properly explain what it means or what it is supposed to do.

First, the Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines feminism as “the belief that men and women should have equal rights and opportunities,” and “organized activity in support of women’s rights and interest.”

This means that there is a belief system in place that would rather women and men have access to the same rights and opportunities. This would essentially substantiate women in the same regard that men have been in for centuries.

Now, it is no surprise that men have been known to be the dominant sex for many generations. In this day and age, this does not have to be our only truth, and that is where feminism comes into play.

The first-wave of feminism occurred in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

Martha Rampton wrote, for the Pacific University Center for Gender Equity: “The goal of this wave was to open up opportunities for women, with a focus on suffrage. The wave formally began at the Seneca Falls Convention in 1848, when 300 men and women rallied to the cause of equality for women. Elizabeth Cady Stanton drafted the Seneca Falls Declaration outlining the new movement’s ideology and political strategies.”

Men and women alike recognized the need for women to have the right to vote as a basic human right, man or woman. From there the second and third waves of feminism occurred, giving women the opportunity to be granted equal rights regardless of sex and to be able to take ownership of their sexuality, putting to rest terms like “slut” and “bitch” (in theory).

I make this historical contextualization of the beginnings of feminism brief because I want to make a point in today’s culture of the true importance of feminism.

Of course feminism, for people who do not study it or think about it, is often associated with “bra burning.” This is an act that some women took in the 1960s to showcase their independence from men in support of women’s rights. This is one of the more radical protests that women have undergone, and quite possibly the most remembered.

This doesn’t mean that all feminists were burning their bras. In fact, it is it said that only a few women were, according to a Time article written by Jennifer Lee.

“Bras were never burned at the 1968 Miss America protest, but that the image persists shows how full of holes our knowledge is of the Women’s Liberation Movement,” Lee wrote.

This association needs to be amended in society’s image of feminism.

Feminism at its core simply seeks to appropriate women to the same standards as men. I believe that everyone should have the same mind-set in this society. I also firmly believe that, when trying to understand feminism, the role of men should not be undermined or diminished.

Feminism is not an attack on the male culture by any means. Feminism does not aim to relieve men of the standard that they have been living at for centuries. Men should not be reduced to nothing in order to bring women up higher in society.

Feminism does not create this imaginary scale that needs to dip to one side in order to create a fully functioning society. Feminism seeks to raise the standard for women in their all-around basic human rights to reach the level that men have been at for centuries.

I think this generation needs to open up a book or two and understand the history of feminism and what it means to be a feminist. It is not solely praising women and forgetting men, or thinking that women are better than men. We need to erase what we thought of feminism and the associations that it came with and understand that every human has rights that must be upheld.

So please, turn off the “female empowerment” songs that completely shit on all men by labeling them as cheaters, liars, abusers and downright horrible people and start to empower women to reach the pinnacle of status and the pedestal that men have been standing for ages, because there is plenty of room for women.

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