March 23, 2016
- A brief description of the history of feminism
- “Act like a lady” —debunking “dressed how you want to be addressed”
- Feminism vs. Chivalry
Not HIStory but HERstory
ATLANTA—Charlotte Haywood is a 23 year old disk jockey who is also seven months pregnant with a baby girl. Every night, she unloads her car and sets up her DJ equipment for her residency at the Intercontinental Hotel in the downtown area. “Everyday, a different employee offers to help me carry my equipment,” Haywood said. “But it is often followed by some snarky remark like “oh finally a women who knows to let a man do a man’s job.”…and then I have to school them. What exactly is a woman’s job? Anything they can do, we can do better.”
Haywood, like most women today, prides herself on being a feminist. Feminism is not nearly a new concept, but it has evolved over the past few years. By definition, feminism is the advocacy of women’s rights on the grounds of political, social, and economic equality to men. The feminist movement began in the late 19th and the early 20th centuries with the goal of gaining equal property, marriage and parental rights for women. The movement soon began to fight for political equality as well. However, feminism is not a simple but a multifaceted concept.
Feminism has been described in “waves” (progessivewomensleadership.com). The first wave of feminism began in the 1830s through the 1900s. This wave primarily focused on political gain. Women realized that they needed to have the right to vote to advocate for women’s rights in reproductive, sexual and economic matters.
The second wave began in the 1960s through the 1980s. During the second wave, feminism expanded their focus to women in the workplace. Women in that era felt that they had proved their worth in the work force after having had taken jobs usually reserved for men in World War II. While the primary focus was gender equality in the workplace, the second wave also introduced the advocacy of civil rights for African Americans and lesbians.
The third wave is the most current form of feminism. It began in the 1990s, and it is referred to the “micro-politics of gender equality”. The feminist movement has broaden drastically with various feminist outlooks. There are the liberals, ego-cultural, academic, ecofeminists and etc.However, feminism today is a widely misconstrued concept. Most people perceive feminism/feminist to be men-hating women but is geared more towards diffusing sexism.
“Act Like A Lady”
Amber Rose is a model, entrepreneur and a feminist icon. As of lately, she organized a “slut walk”—a movement on this cause against sexual injustice, victim blaming, derogatory labeling and gender inequality (amberroseslutwalk.com). Rose was heavily criticized for encouraging women to embrace the word slut, a term often used derogatorily for someone who is scantily dressed. However, Amber recently appeared on “It’s Not You, It’s Men”, a relationship-talk show hosted by rapper Rev Run and singer/actor Tyrese Gibson.
While on the show, Amber defended her slut walk and broke down the meaning of consensual sex. Rev Run attempted to change Amber’s perception on being a slut by telling her to “dress how you want to be addressed”. “If I’m laying down with a man, butt-naked, and his condom is on, and I say, ‘You know what? No. I don’t want to do this. I changed my mind,’ that means no,” Rose said. “That means f**king no. That’s it. It doesn’t matter how far I take it or what I have on. When I say no, it means no.”
Another entrepreneur has made headlines and feminist allies lately after posting a nude photo of herself on social media (people.com). Kim Kardashian-West is not a self proclaimed feminist, however, she does push the envelope on what society calls “acting like a lady”. On March 7, 2016, Kardashian-West uploaded a nude picture of her post-baby-body, but edited a black bar in to cover up her unmentionables. While most people, men and women, praised her for being confident in celebrating her body, others condemned her for being a mother of two and a bad role model to the millions of young women that look up to her.
On the contrary, Beyonce, while not having any nude photos, is a feminist icon who dresses scantily but is held in a higher regard because she’s a business woman. Beyonce recently released songs like “Run the World” and “Flawless” and “Formation” that urges women celebrate themselves and support the feminist movement. During the vamp of “Flawless”, Beyonce included a monologue from feminist activist Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie (chimamanda.com), that said:
“We teach girls to shrink themselves
To make themselves smaller
We say to girls
“You can have ambition
But not too much
You should aim to be successful
But not too successful
Otherwise you will threaten the man”
Because I am female
I am expected to aspire to marriage
I am expected to make my life choices
Always keeping in mind that
Marriage is the most important
Now marriage can be a source of
Joy and love and mutual support
But why do we teach girls to aspire to marriage
And we don’t teach boys the same?
We raise girls to each other as competitors
Not for jobs or for accomplishments
Which I think can be a good thing
But for the attention of men
We teach girls that they cannot be sexual beings
In the way that boys are
Feminist: the person who believes in the social
Political, and economic equality of the sexes”
Feminism vs. Chivalry
A common misconception about feminism is that it negates chivalry. Men see feminism as an emasculating concept, while many feminist believe chivalry threatens their independence. However, the two are not mutually exclusive (bustle.com). Feminism is not about eliminating men, but seeking the same equality as men.
“Feminism did not kill chivalry, it reciprocated it,” said Corlissa Wilson, a professor and psychologist at University of Phoenix. “Feminism has received a bad reputation but it’s quite simple. Sometimes, we (women) want to assert ourselves in situations.” Wilson said she like for her husband of 25 years to open the door for her or pick up the check, but she also does not mind doing the same for him. “ In no way or form, does my husband feel emasculated when I pick up the bill or open a door for him, but a lot of men do.”
Brandon Jones said that sometimes he’s that guy. “As a young man, I was taught that as a man, I had certain role and so did my woman,” said Jones, a 22-year-old computer science student at Georgia State University. “I won’t condemn a woman if she opens a door but I do prefer she allows me to get it for her. It’s just how I was raised.” Jones also said, he’s for feminism because he said he believes in equality in the politics and the workplace.
Feminism is continuing to grow. More women are speaking out and overcoming the glass ceilings of sexism. Hilary Clinton is running for president, women are holding feminist meetings, and there’s even a campaign to “free the nipple”. As women continue to evolve, so will feminism. After all, “who runs the world? Girls!” —Beyonce.