Is feminism a genuine movement or a group of charlatans?
Feminism has had an interesting trajectory over the past century. Initially it stood for what was already an established movement, caring and concern for women. The suffragettes did bring about major advances in women’s rights, but were they a movement? It is now widely believed that the suffragettes were a group of purists who believed in the complete equality of all genders, a cause very similar to religious fundamentalism.
Today, in the twenty-first century, feminism has been diluted by identity politics, mass media, and politics of personal convenience. There is no longer an emphasis on equal rights, and most progressive-minded people consider themselves to be liberals rather than radicals. Those on the left consider traditional gender roles to be backwards and support programs that help women enter those roles and earn the rights that women have always deserved. Feminism is not a movement, but an ideology that claims to promote a particular way of doing things. In other words, it is not one unified doctrine that can be found on every street corner.
So, does Feminism deserve credit as a real movement? I tend to agree with Judith Butler in criticizing The Myth of Feminism: Women Are the Object of Desire, which describes the movement as a set of myths. These myths promote a particular vision of women’s empowerment, but do nothing to encourage women to take their place in society or to advance their careers. Butler also points out that some of these same purists would have you believe that the efforts of Feminists are intended to trick you into feeling guilty about your role in corporate America and in your home life. However, these are just the arguments of a spoiled baby, and anyone with even a rudimentary understanding of Feminism understands that its goals are both practical and philosophical.
In order to truly understand Feminism, we need to go beyond the commonly held misconceptions about it. One cannot simply declare something to be Feminism without providing a clear explanation of exactly what this ideology is all about. Too many people are willing to toss around the terminology and definitions of Feminism; especially when those definitions aren’t actually based on anything that makes sense.
To begin with, Feminism is an ideology, and the most accurate way to describe an ideology is “a set of ideas, values, assumptions and beliefs about how the world should be arranged.” It is not, however, an actual political movement, and Feminism has nothing to do with power, wealth or being in charge. (Feminism does advocate the empowerment of women, but this is not in terms of becoming a boss or running the country).
Furthermore, Feminism is not about controlling men or holding them in submission; it is about gaining the freedom and the empowerment of every individual woman. It is also not about making sure that children are brought up according to the teachings of the bible; if that were so then it would be considered Feminism. It is simply a set of ideas and beliefs about how women should live their lives. It is also a set of beliefs about what should constitute a successful society, a free and open economy and a just society in general. Therefore, there is nothing here to indicate that a group calling themselves Feminists have any other agenda than promoting equality in the sexes.
On the other hand, there is an agenda behind Feminism that must be considered. That agenda is the advancement of Women’s rights, the promotion of equality between men and women, and the ending of violence against women. The specific areas that Feminism has been effective in our education, employment, crime, family, and reproductive health. In each of these areas, it has advanced the human race. Unfortunately, far too many women still suffer at the hands of men, and there are too many men out there who abuse their status as men, and mistreat women. This is why Feminism is a collection of myths; it has actually done more for women than it has hurt.
What about the future for Feminism? Is it a movement that will eventually make all men obsolete? If so, then we can thank the various Feminists that have fought hard for the rights for women in every country on this earth. The future belongs to women; do not let men dictate where you live, who you talk to, and what you believe.