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On The Good And Bad Of Feminism | Blog | William Cody Winter .Com

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On The Good And Bad Of Feminism

In this blog post, I shall explain the good and the bad of feminism and what it really means to be a feminist.
Emmeline Pankhurst addresses crowd
First I will start by defining what feminism is. Feminism is a movement whereby its supporters known as feminists believe in and stand up for the equal rights of women. This means getting and maintaining the equal rights of women in areas such as politics and the workplace. Feminism has mostly received widespread attention for its successful attempt at winning women the right to vote then later its work on equal pay.

But it covers many other areas, the following is a list of rights and goals from Wikipedia:

the right to vote, to hold public office, to work, to earn fair wages or equal pay, to own property, to education, to enter contracts, to have equal rights within marriage, and to have maternity leave. Feminists have also worked to promote bodily autonomy and integrity, and to protect women and girls from rape, sexual harassment, and domestic violence.

The term ‘feminist’ was first coined in France in the 1830s, but the feminists’ cause first rose to great public attention in the 1860s with the Suffragists. A movement made up of feminists who campaigned and peacefully protested for women’s right to vote in Britain.
Unfortunately although relatively successful they were slow to pick up and gain much support, so many women felt that more direct action was needed and in 1903 the Suffragettes were founded by Emmeline Pankhurst. Suffragettes, unlike the Suffragists, took much more direct action, bordering on terrorism and in fact if they were around today they probably would be branded terrorists. They harassed MPs and burnt down buildings. On one occasion in 1913, one of their members fatally jumped out in front of the king’s racehorse. Although it is now believed that she was trying to attach a scarf to the horse for attention rather than actually commit suicide. The argument of which group did the most good is a controversial one. The Suffragists movement was not unsuccessful but was very slow to gain either support or recognition, whereas the Suffragettes gained rapid publicity for their violent actions. However the Suffragists considered the Suffragettes to be more of a hindrance to the feminist cause as many men who may have supported the Suffragists before were now starting to view women as mentally unstable and, therefore, should not receive the vote.

It may never be known for sure which group would have ultimately won the vote for women as when the vote was finally given to women it came in 1918 just after the end of the first world war and is therefore considered more of a reward to women for their war effort than anything else. Women in the United States won the right to vote two years later in 1920.

What feminism means to me is wanting equality of the sexes and believing in equal rights and pay for women. Unfortunately, even now in 2015, there is still an unbelievable pay gap in both the UK and the US of around 20%. In fact, the gap for women in senior level jobs in the UK is wider now than it was in 2005.

Research by Ann Francke, from the Chartered Management Institute, has suggested that the closing of the pay gap should actually boost the British economy £35 billion by 2030. Feminism to me is also protecting the woman’s body’s autonomy, such as their right not to be groped or raped and to have the legal right to have an abortion if they so choose.

The things I have listed above are all worthy causes and are what feminism is really about, but what about when feminism goes too far? Well, unfortunately, feminism has its fair share of radicals and extremists like in any group of people (now labeled by many as Feminazi) and it is these extremists that have tarnished the name of feminism over the years. Many of these people (normally women) use feminism simply as a way to silence and control men. Often I have heard women make silly jokes about men, such as ‘men should be seen and not heard’ and it is just that, a joke. I take it as such and am not in any way offended. However when men make jokes along those lines, many feminists are quick to call the man a misogynist pig and seem to think he really does believe a woman should never speak unless told. Even though that is not my style of joking I really don’t think a silly bad joke like that automatically makes him a sexist who hates all women and wants to keep them from speaking their minds, any more than the opposite is true when a woman makes an off the cuff joke like that. If we want equality which is what feminism is all about then we must not just say men can’t joke about women but also, women can’t joke about men and I don’t think that is right. I believe both sexes should be able to joke about each other without fear of a backlash.

I believe a woman should be able to work alongside a male colleague without the risk of having their backsides squeezed or pinched, but there are some extreme feminists who take this too far. They go as far as suggesting that if a man politely smiles at a woman he doesn’t know as he passes her by it is a form of unwanted attraction or even sexual harassment. They also say that if a man holds a door open for a woman to pass through, it is sexist. Some say all heterosexual sex is a form of rape (even if consensual) as it is the thrusting of the penis into a woman’s body like a knife.

I am very old-fashioned in many ways and believe in chivalry. I believe in being polite, friendly (not just to women). I believe in holding a door open for a lady to go through first and in letting a pregnant lady have your seat on a train or bus if there is nowhere else for her to sit and if that makes me a bad person in the eyes of some feminists so be it, because I will always do what I believe is right and I feel there is still a place for chivalry alongside feminism.

Regrettably it is this radicalised image of feminism that gets the most media attention and, therefore, puts a lot of would-be supporters off joining the cause. Alas, I anticipate a lot of work is going to need to be done on an international level to essentially rebrand feminism as a more moderate movement if it is to gain much more widespread support and appeal and be all it is truly capable of being.

So, if you are interested in feminism just remember it is not about hating men or silencing and controlling them. It is about equality for both genders and protecting women not from harmless jokes, but from real abuse such as rape and domestic violence.

In conclusion, feminism is still an excellent cause even if its reputation has been blackened by the extremists. So, no matter how ugly some radicals may make the word seem to the mainstream, as I believe in the original ideal of feminism I will continue to call myself a feminist.
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