This article was originally written for The Odyssey Online and can be found there as well:
Let’s talk about a word, but not just any word. This word is one that many people roll their eyes at, scoff at in annoyance, or swear by. Others swear by the word. The term I am referencing of course, is Feminism. I know, not what you were thinking, but i assure you, this word is just as controversial. It is a universal truth that everybody has strong opinions and the majority of said people really enjoying sharing them. Especially when it comes to politics and their ideals.
There have been three ‘waves’ of feminism. The first dealt with suffrage, a fancy word for voting. The second wave covered legal and social equality for women, while the third fought for the failures of the second movement, which occurred in the 90’s. Some argue that we are currently in the fourth wave, and with so much progress being made for women and others with limited opportunities, it’s hard to disagree. But, enough with the history lesson. Why does the ‘F’-word rub some people the wrong way?
Well, it’s the same reason tea drinkers hate coffee and coffee drinkers hate tea. Trust me, there is no in between. I know, weird analogy. Anyway, the point is: people get stuck in their viewpoints; they like what they have, and the opportunities they get, without paying much attention to others. America? America.
Let’s get real. In the world today, things are a bit out of whack. It’s becoming normal to openly judge others and their ideals without fully understanding in the first place. This open judgement causes a surge of ignorance instead of a medium for knowledge and growth in culture and society. Our country is supposed to be a place for everyone, a place without chains or restrictions. And just to spice things up, here’s a random fun fact: did you know that the statue of liberty was supposed to represent a slave? Yep, no lie. There were originally chains not only on her ankles, but also in her hands. The chains in her hands were removed. The Statue of Liberty is a symbol of American Independence, representing the end of all servitude and oppression. The broken shackles and chains still lay at her right foot. Despite what the statue originally symbolized, oppression still existed in America. The shackles and chains soon started to represent bitter ironies of America’s claim to being a just and free nation for all. Such ironies play a large role in society today. People get annoyed by feminism because a lot of what feminists fight for and that challenges what others already have and their ideas on what the country “should look like.”
My point is that times are changing, maybe for the better, maybe for the worse. The problem is that, though countless movements towards equality occur habitually, the significance of this falls flat with those who don’t understand what feminism means to those who fight behind the word.
Feminism, to me, means equality. That’s it. Not just for women, but for everyone. ‘Proto-feminist’ is the term historians use to reference early feminist movements, because the meaning has changed. Women have come a long way since the first wave of feminism, but that’s not to say that they are equal with men just yet. Today, the world is full of people who are beginning to realize that being different or being misunderstood limits their opportunities. This includes women, men, African Americans, Latinos, LGTBQ+, etcetera. The list goes on and on.
Feminism is a continuing movement. From the first wave to the current, the goal is simple: to raise awareness, to create equality, and to make people realize that just because it’s their truth, doesn’t mean it’s the only truth. Everybody has a perspective, an interpretation of the world, and ideas of what is right and wrong. Who are we to try to overpower their voice? Everybody has a story. Who knows, what they have to say might change the world.