Feminism – it’s a word you see scrawled across magazine covers or on t shirts, and is probably one of the most popular buzzwords of 2015. The problem is, everyone uses it in a completely different way, so what does it even mean? A dictionary definition would be something along the lines of “the belief that women and men should have equal rights,” but feminism is more than a belief; it’s more than a movement, and it’s more than a mere idea Feminism is defined by people.
Starting all the way back with Susan B. Anthony and other leaders in achieving women’s suffrage, there was one of the first hopes for equality. Flash forward to the twenty-first century, and we see tons of people – girls, boys, women, and men alike – pushing forward even harder in the fight for equal rights. So you might be thinking to yourself, “What then is the need for continuing on campaigning for equal rights if so many people are already aware?” Well the blatant truth is that women and girls still do not have access to the same basic rights that men do today.
One of the most prominent examples is the fact that there are 4 million more primary school aged girls out of school than the amount of boys, according to UNESCO. At such early ages girls are already being deprived of a basic right- the right to an education, but not only is it an education, it is the foundation for a successful life. With a solid education, women would be able to find work and help support their families a lot more. However, even at the workplace women are still facing issues such as the gender pay gap. As of 2014, female workers only received 71 cents for every dollar a male worker received, which is a 21 percent difference, says the Institute for Women’s Policy Research. What causes this pay gap? Some of the reasons are understandable, such as the fact that often men and women work in different paying job industries. However, studies do show that higher education for women has helped to close up this gap.
However true all this may be, it is still important to remember that gender equality does not mean giving unfair advantages to women. For example, let’s say that a boss has to make a decision of whether he should promote a woman or a man for a certain job. Let’s just say that the woman is not the appropriate match for the promotion. It would be wrong for the boss to say or think that if he doesn’t promote the female, he would be discriminating against her. For gender equality to truly exist in terms of opportunities, men and women alike have to be treated based off their skills and work ethics alone.
Another common misunderstanding of feminism is that it looks at males as the inferiors. This is probably one of the worst possible misinterpretations, because it completely goes against the whole concept of being a feminist. The whole point is that equal rights and opportunities should be given to both men and women, not to establish that a certain gender is superior over the other.
So even though there are many misuses and misconceptions of the term “feminism,” it’s essential to know what that this term encompasses. Without this knowledge of what feminism is and isn’t, it is impossible to stand up for what is right, and more importantly, impossible for us to improve our society.