“What the heck is this ‘patriarchy’?”
“Men and women are already equal, feminism is stupid.”
“So what’s the point of feminism, anyway?”
Skeptics of feminism pose these questions every day. We announce we are feminists and they challenge us with questions or put us down with insults.
And really, can we blame them?
All they see is a bunch of frustrated people yelling “Screw Patriarchy!” Does this seem fun? No. And why in god’s name are they so mad? Who knows.
I understand why people question Third Wave Feminism. We no longer deal with straightforward issues; the solutions are not right in front of us. For someone who does not actively follow the movement, this ‘thing’ might not make much sense.
First Wave Feminism, from the late 1800’s until the 1920’s, centered around the right to vote and own property. Second Wave Feminism (1960′s-80′s) oriented its goals on coverture, abortion, and freedom beyond the kitchen. These movements gained widespread support throughout North America, and rightfully so. Historical feminism dealt with concrete problems and finite solutions. Cut and dry. There was a problem, a path, and a resolution in sight.
But today, the era of third wave of feminism, is a whole different ball game. We throw around terms like rape culture, patriarchy, and sexual empowerment. What do they mean? What even is feminism today?
The end game of Third Wave Feminism is not a vote, a right, or a single law. Feminism today is fighting for a change in the embedded ways society sees and treats women; the notoriously vague ‘gender equality’.
I agree, let’s define gender equality.
Equality does not mean the same. Equality is treating people with the same amount of respect. Equality is giving justice to those who are born into lifelong disadvantages. Equality is not organizing each person to start a race at the same starting line. Equality is setting those people in a staggered line, giving every participant an equal chance at success by taking into account the varied obstacles they will encounter.
You are going to argue this unfair. ‘That’s not equal if people are given special accommodations!’ Well, if a person is less likely to succeed in life due to societal constraints, then it actually is. Affirmative action exists for a reason.
But to achieve this all encompassing term of gender equality, there are two fundamental goals for which (my) Third Wave feminism strives.
First it aims to erode the value disparity between men and women.
In almost every aspect of society women are undervalued. As caregivers women are undervalued; we are still often expected to run the household and do not receive monetary compensation or tax breaks. As productive citizens women are undervalued; we make up the vast majority of informal economy and have limited access to/within the formal economy. As basic humans women are undervalued; in the language we use it is clear females are seen as ‘lesser’.
‘Don’t be such a pussy’: because being scared or emotional, i.e. a girl, is always undesirable.
‘You throw like a girl’: because negative attributes are always associated with being female.
‘God, you’re such a cunt’: because the very idea of having female reproductive parts is horrifying.
My feminism strives to create a society in which women are valued: a world to foster self-esteem in women, promote respect, and provide choices.
Second it strives dismantle the power gap between men and women.
Men have more power in today’s society in every sense of the word; economic, political, and social. This is as a direct result of the value disparity.
Beyond the numbers, where 79.2% of countries are currently run by men (UN Women) and 95.2% of Fortune 500 companies have male CEOs (Forbes), men dominate every corner of society. Men are able to pursue a meaningful career without others questioning their familial love. Men have the power to voice their opinions in a direct manner without fear of dissent. Men have the ability to wear what they want without doubt or harassment.
My feminism strives to create a society in which women have power: a world to foster leadership in women, promote autonomy, and provide opportunities.
The end goal of feminism is a world in which women do not start every day a hundred meters behind.
The end goal is to give women a real chance to win the race.