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Negative connotation of feminism and reasonings of why women today do not identify with the movement


my original title for this was just "The F Word" but that seemed too lame and am currently thinking about altering the title, any suggestions will be helpful

my main worry is whether the essay makes sense to the reader and whether or not each paragraph has a "so what?" statement in each paragraph to signify its importance of being in the essay.

this essay is supposed to be written as a personal interest essay


Growing up, misconceptions of feminism lead me to reject the idea quickly. Identifying myself as a feminist made me uncomfortable since it evoked the image of a troop of an angry man-hating, unattractive women. When signing up for classes for senior year, I wanted to pick classes of interest to me, but sadly those classes were filled up, leaving me with no choice to enroll in a Gender Studies class. Unexpectedly, I never met with a mass of enraged women spewing hate towards males; rather it was calm and filled with intelligent conversations.Media often broadcasts radical feminists as the poster child for the movement, an image I had coming into class. This view began to deconstruct when I learned there is no right way of being a feminist. One can be calm and rational or angry and upset, which is a logical way to feel about the patriarchal society. Unfortunately, due to the women's rights movement being skewed, misrepresentation of the media leads to feminism being misconstrued and unaccepted by young women. To combat the negative image, suggestions have been made to change the name of the movement, but this suggestion has come under fire for focusing on the word than the actual issue and has led to the discussion of reeducating the definition of feminism.

Interpretation of women's rights and the movement has always been skewed, with the movement increasing and decreasing in prominence. In America, feminism started in the late 19th century, with the intention to stand against gender inequality and advance the suffrage movement. Success came in 1920, the 19th amendment, granting women to vote. Though a great victory, no notable laws for women passed for the next 40 years leading women to conform solely to the role of a housewife. The Feminine Mystique by Betty Friedan introduced the second wave, leading to Congress passing the Equal Pay Act, the FDA approving birth control pills, and Roe v. Wade giving ladies right to govern their bodies. Numerous additional laws passed, yet parallel to the first wave, the second wave slowly faded introducing a new wave ("The Women's Rights Movement, 1848-1920 | US House of Representatives: History, Art & Archives).

The third wave, perhaps the most misrepresented portion of the feminist movement, started in the 1990's and continued today and often critiqued for lack of a united goal. With the whole world connected to the internet, everyone can have a say of what feminism means to them. In the perspective of the third wave, feminism is unique to every feminist; this statement derives its individualistic characteristics and ability to have the freedom of expressing what feminism means to them. Each person may need it for different reasons, and that's what makes it so accessible and beneficial. Unfortunately, those with the most radical opinions are usually the ones that gain the most attention leading to misrepresentation.

Women are hesitant to identify themselves as feminists due to the negative implications the media imposes on the women's movement. The stigma around the word feminism derives from the central western thought of oppositional dualism. For example, groups of people who aren't part of the "good" automatically get put into the "bad" (nonwhite male, middle-class Christians) category, which feminists inevitably fall into since they're fighting against a patriarchal society (Beck). This concept bleeds into journalism, where journalists are taught to write stories of right versus wrong. On the topic of women's rights, this leads to the narrative of a false dualism of the belief that feminism is "bad" trying to destroy a peaceful society since "men and women are already equal in North American society and therefore feminists are just complaining needlessly" (Anderson).

Media has a long history of twisting stories to fit the narrative of a stereotype and focusing on the radical faction of feminism. For example, coverage is mostly ignored except for incidents like the Miss America Pageant protest in 1960's organized by the New York Radical Women, complaining how pageants oppress women to certain beauty standards. Although being one of the few events capturing the media's attention, the media focused on the few women symbolically burning their bras leading to becoming a catchphrase for the movement. It demonized the activists as "... deviant sexually, a bunch of man-haters out to destroy 'family values'" (Beck). With this view women associated with conducting this act are law-breaking radicals, helping efforts of opponents to feminism and their longing to negate the movement. The event ignored the purpose of the movement in trying to bring light to the issues of jobs, pay, and childcare, topics which are less enticing for the media to report.

With the role, the media has taken to represent feminism, young women don't label themselves feminist because they don't identify with the skewed image of feminists. Feminism finds itself in a complex state since everyone has a different way of interpreting the movement. With the rise of the internet, everyone can declare what feminism is and isn't. It's important to note that the central aspect of third wave feminism is that it is unique to every feminist. Each person may need it for different reasons, and that's what makes it so accessible and beneficial. The problem seems to be that those with the most radical opinions are usually the ones that gain the most attention. Radical groups of women spark more controversy and therefore more discussion and are more widely heard, leading to a complete misunderstanding of feminism. With the misrepresentation provided, women aren't appealed to the idea. Many don't want to become a feminist because they do not want to be part of a group that includes those who are radical feminists "because being labeled a feminist would misrepresent who I really am"("I Reject the Feminist Label"). This misrepresentation has led to talks about renaming the movement.

Many people deny being a feminist just because of the negative publicity it receives; a suggested solution is to change the name to make the movement appealing for women to identify. A recent poll conducted states that 20 percent of Americans consider themselves feminists, though 82 percent expressed they believed in equality for men and women when asked (Swanson). The reason is encapsulated in this response from on blog online written by the author who doesn't identify herself as a feminist "even though [she] agree with some things the feminist movement stands for because ... applying the label to [herself] would give people the wrong impression of what [she] support." ("I Reject the Feminist Label").

The perceived thought of the movement has lead people to pigeonholed feminism as a radical idea. The disconnect between the thought of feminism and gender equality displays the failed advertising of feminists and accomplishment of the attacks and distortion of misogynists. With the tainted image of feminist, this leads to the discussion of changing the name of the movement to be called humanism or equalists. This idea is even advocated by Susan Sarandon who says that "the term feminist is a label that is too stigmatized to be taken seriously so it shouldn't be used anymore", showing that the definition of feminism is so deeply disconnected that even prominent celebs have taken notice, whose ideas influence the current generation of women ("Changing the Way Feminism Is Defined"). Since the younger population aren't keen on adopting the word, it seems it's futile to repackage the word and instead seems imperative to rename the movement.

Although repackaging the movement comes with good intentions, it would focus the movement on the word of the movement instead of the issues. Those who demand to be called equalists than feminists are ignoring the fact that women aren't equal. Equalists don't fight for something that isn't there yet, but rather fight to keep the existing conditions of equality they believe is already established. Though believing everyone should have the same rights doesn't mean they do because "Even though men and women are considered to be politically equal, there is a long way to go until both genders are socially and economically equal" ("Editorial:

Feminism-when Did the Meaning of This Word Change?"). Feminism tackles the reality of the world, where one gender is being discriminated against more so than the other. The world we live in has an environment of discrimination towards women, bringing the need to solely focus on females having suffered from oppression in our society (Bustle). The focus should be on teaching people more about the core meaning of feminism and stop being afraid of being one ("Changing the Way Feminism Is Defined").

Our current generation of women need to be reeducated on what is a feminist. Current view of feminism is that feminists are emotionally unresponsive, rejecting, cold, domineering powerful mother figure many see feminist as a man hating feminist, aggressive. These stereotypes don't represent most women today leading to a disconnect. For feminism to continue, it needs to be more personal and connected to the audience rather being disjointed. The main point that needs to represented of the current state of third wave feminism, is that one can interpret what feminism means to them. There is no right or wrong way of "doing" feminism. This concept of reeducating women on feminism can be implemented effectively with workshops, like one called "Another Word for Gender". The workshops are pegged as "an intro to feminist organizing and action," and yet they in no way support the negative connotation associated with the word. Instead, these workshops support the official definition of feminism by promoting equality for all genders.

Dec 8, 2016   #2
Aicha, as a personal interest essay, you should be concentrating less on the factual presentation of the discussion and more on the development of your personality as a feminist over time. You had a good start by discussing your ideas of Feminism and how you ended up an accidental feminist by enrolling in the class during your senior year. From that point though, you just started to mention research point after research point without really allowing yourself to connect with the information. As a research paper / personal essay, the main objective of this paper is to present a smooth and integrated look at your development as a Feminist based upon the data that you collected for the presentation. That connection, between the development of your feminist mindset and the history of feminism is where the strength of this personal research paper will lie. This is to be a journey of self discovery and self education that you would not have had the chance to experience if you had not been assigned to develop this paper. I suggest that you follow through and clearly display the current mindset that you have about feminism based upon its history and your personal experience as a developing feminist.
@ratoberry

I appreciate the stance you took at the beginning of this essay. You started as a person timid to the subject but dipped your toe in and got a first hand experience. As a male, what I respect is that you were able to cover many topics/reasons and get through your paper without ending on the note of "Men are pigs, death to all of them!" (Hyperbole ;D). To me, there isn't anything more off putting than to have someone who read a poorly written Buzzfeed article use that as their foundation of a "logical argument".

Where you start to lose me is when you move into the real "meat and potatoes" of you essay. Most of the body paragraphs seem more like summaries than true reasons. For instance, you mention a few times how changing the name could be beneficial but could also cause controversy due to where the focus is put (word or movement). That's all I got from that subtopic though. Really reach in for WHY this could be the major turning point or the possible huge mistake for the movement and apply this rationale to your other points.

You also mention the opposition dualism dichotomy we face right now. Dig deeper on how this could be reversed and would prove useful for the movement. Like you said, our media is quick to tag things like "-ism" onto whatever they can but many times those tags divert our attention from the true argument at hand and feminism as a whole. Prove to me why articulation like this detracts from the feminist movement, more specifically how the media has put their own spin on these ideas.

Wonderful job overall, you are a very concise and clear writer but dig deeper to persuade me to your thoughts :)
  Closed ✓


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