Feminism as defined by Merriam-Webster dictionary:
1. The theory of the political, economic, and social equality of the sexes
2. Organized activity on behalf of women’s rights and interests
Feminism is an interpretive theory, in that each individual takes the term and its conjointed theory and applies their peronsal beliefs and background to it. Feminism is shaped by opinions on a person to person basis. Some call this one of the problems of the movement: there is no concrete definition of what feminism is, and what it means to be a feminist. This is a “problem” because with no clear definition, there is no clear incentive of feminists, and no progress can be made in the “right” direction. But looking at it from a positive standpoint, having an ambiguous definition allows people to take the term, think about it and internalize it, and apply it to themselves. When this happens, people feel more closely tied to the movement, because it now reflects them and their beliefs.
There are a plethera of images of feminism and the modern day feminist that circulate society today. Included in that cluster are the man-haters, the masculine and unattractive woman, the progressive career woman who doesn’t shave, the unforgiving lesbian, and the guilt ridden man. These are all stereotypes of feminists and they are wrong. I came across a rather interesting post online the other day that was discussing stereotypes of feminists. The post stated that the top stereotype of feminists is that “All people who label themselves as feminist believe in the exact same things” (Zimbio).
Interesting that the author of that post gave that statement a negative connotation. They are unhappy that individual feminist’s beliefs are being compiled together into an assumed package, symbolic of every feminist’s identity. This “stereotype” is precisely what many are trying to achieve: a universal definition.
The diversity of feminist beliefs is what makes it a complex theory/movement. Yes, not having an easily packaged explanation of feminism makes it harder to categorize and understand, but the journey you take trying to define the movement is part of it’s definition. The more information you sift through, the more you discover what you believe, and the more you shape your inner feminist.
My feminist beliefs include fighting for equality of the sexes which involves rising the roles of women from the ranks of minority and fighting against the oppression that aims at keeping them there.
Do you agree with Merriam-Webster and my beliefs on feminism? If you do, why? What else do you think you would add to your definition? If you don’t, what differs between our definitions? Why do you think we have differing definitions?
– Agent Change