Feminism 101: Why it’s Relevant

 

Black background with pink symbol for the female sex with a closed fist in the middle.

By Alexandria Arritt

Feminism is defined by Merriam Webster Dictionary as, “the theory of the political, economic, and social equality of the sexes.” The simplest definition of feminism is truly just the idea of equality. If that is what feminism is, why is it controversial? Why do so many people find the idea of feminism inherently discriminatory? There are two main reasons that seem to stand out.

  1. Many assume that the 21st century is a time where women are not discriminated against. That feminism has already done its job and is no longer necessary. Many do not consider what women face in America to be sexism.
  2. Others find no issue with feminism, but with “radical feminism.” They don’t agree with man-hating and violence. Some still mention the notorious bra-burning that characterized second wave feminism as a descriptor of “radical feminism.”

To address the first issue, it is important to consider the treatment of women across the globe, not just in the United States. There are women suffering from extreme discrimination in all walks of life. For example, the World Health Organization conducted a study about violence against women that concluded that around 15% of women in Japan and a staggering 71% of women in Ethiopia reported some sort of violence by an intimate partner. They also found that worldwide, almost one third of women who have been in a relationship experienced either physical or sexual violence by their intimate partner. Women around the globe residing in countries such as India, Africa, Pakistan, and even some Eastern European Countries also experience discrimination in the form of honor killings, acid attacks, child marriage and forced prostitution. In 155 countries, it is still legal to discriminate based on sex, according to a recent World Bank survey. Within the US, violence such as mutilation and honor killings are less common, but women experience discrimination in many other ways. Women still are subjected to harassment, rape and pay discrimination.

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