Feminism in the 21st Century; Hated or Loved?

To this day, there is still a constant debate around feminism and its importance. It seems the ultimate goal of this said movement has become blurred; what used to be a message that supported equality for men and women in society, has now become a debate on whether or not a person who calls themselves a feminist hates men.

The word “feminism” has become a word that is more and more talked about with a negative reputation. For instance, if you brought it up in any room, people would most likely have a strong opinion about it. For some, it would make them feel uncomfortable. The topic has recently become so sensitive, yet people love discussing it on social media. It’s human nature to discuss what can be considered a controversial topic, and feminism has slowly made it up to the top of that list.

If you look into the history of feminism, most people separate it into three waves; the first one taking place during the nineteenth to the early twentieth century. Each “wave” had similar goals in what these women were trying to accomplish and what message they were trying to get across.

All three “waves” showed progression that these women had fought so hard for, but it also showed the amount of work that still needed to be done. During the time period of the first wave, women were legally prohibited from things such as being able to vote, refusing to have sex with their husbands, or even divorcing their husbands, and they didn’t even have legal custody of their children; at the time the husbands had legal ownership to their wives and their children. Women were fighting to have these rights and so many more. They fought for the right to have equal access to education and to gain full rights as citizens. This movement had begun around the same time as World War I, so even though many women had jobs outside of their home for the first time, they were limited to factory jobs.

About sixty years later was when the second wave had come into affect. Women may have made some great progress in gaining rights, but there was still a lot of work to be done. During the 1960’s to the 1980’s, women at the time were still expected to follow a strict path constructed by society. Women were meant to be married and have a family by their early twenties and devote their life to being domestic. Second wave feminism’s main goal was to gain employment equality so that women had the same chances to be promoted and make a decent living as a citizen in society.

Now of course there were many other issues that women faced throughout history, such as how they were required to look and dress, as well as act; but that is something society has unfortunately always had control of whether you were a man or a woman.

The third and final wave came into play around the 1990’s. Some argue whether we are still in what is considered the third wave or if a new wave has begun, but there is no clear “ending” of the third wave. Women had come a very long way from first wave feminism, we were now able to vote, and weren’t nearly as restricted in what we could do for work, but there was still a huge battle that had yet to be conquered. Very similar to what feminists are fighting for now, third wave feminism was to fight for women’s reproductive rights and to still work toward equal pay in the workplace among many other things that the second wave tried to fight for.

Now move into the 21st century, particularly present day (2017). Whether we are entering a new fourth wave of  feminism, or continuing on the third, it doesn’t matter how many segments you break it into, there is still a fight to be fought. Maybe not as big as it was in the past, but there is still discussion on what a woman should or shouldn’t be able to do with her own body. There’s also still a wage gap that no one wants to talk about, and rape culture (which could be a whole post in of itself) has become a real and scary thing.

The thing that boggles my mind is how negative the term has become. People think of feminists as women who hate men and want to be the almighty leader of the world. There are people who call themselves “anti-feminists” which I have read their arguments and reasoning behind why they don’t want to consider themselves a feminists, and I can see where some of them are coming from.

I’m not here to discredit anyone’s opinion, but in my eyes, whether you are proud to call yourself a feminist or even an anti-feminist, you can’t deny the fact that equal rights are still something that need to be fought for in modern society.

Hopefully there will be a day where feminism is viewed as a movement that benefits both men and women in society and the horrible stigma that it has will fade away; but until then, there is so much more that can still be fought for.