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Feminism is not trying to make women into men…

I feel like this should be obvious.

However I have read two articles in the last few weeks about how feminism has had its day and that women, particularly young women are complaining that feminists are trying to force them to act like and become versions of men.

I get the feeling that the people (men) writing these articles and the women they claim to talk to have not actually spoken to an actual feminist since the 1980s

Feminism does not imply that to get ahead in the business world / world of work / world in general, you have to act like a man. It doesn’t even imply that you have to be in the business world at all.

What it does say, is that if you are in the business world, you have a right to expect the same treatment / salary / expectations as a man in the same position.

Feminism is not (as I have also read somewhere) making women unfeminine. It is not saying that you have to be alone or independent or that to be independent you have to be alone. It is not saying that you shouldn’t wear make up or dresses, or that you should. It is not saying you must have a career instead of a family, or that you have to have a career at all.

It is saying that you can chose.

It is saying that you can be in a relationship, or not, you can be traditionally feminine or not you can wear what ever you like, and none of these decisions have any bearing on your abilities or worth. It is saying that you can be whoever you want to be and that you have the absolute right to choose freely who that is.

Feminism is right down at it’s roots, about equality of treatment for all women.

Not “equality for all white middle class women and all other women must act like them to get a share”.

Not “equality for only those whose genitals marked them as female at birth”.

Not (as one very famous person has said) “equality for those that menstruate”. (that’s just weird anyway as it discounts an awful lot of women, not only trans women as the quotee intended…)

It is about equality for everyone and the freedom to be a woman in whatever way you want. It is about freedom to chose and the right to expect equal and fair treatment.

I do understand that feminism has been through several different waves, go and look here if you want them explaining, more informed people than me have written about it. I am (as always) going to tell you my take on things. So feminism has been through several waves and there was a time in the 80s and early 90s that the overriding believe was that to be equal to men, women had to act like men. It was the era of Margaret Thatcher and the power suit (that’s not a book…although maybe it should be) it was the era of the belief that feminists were shouty women who hated men (they weren’t, well not all of them). That was the time as a teenager that I believed I wasn’t a feminist, and that I thought “you are not like the other girls,you are an honorary man” was a compliment. I am not proud of it but there we are, that is how it was. I was wrong of course. I am, and always have been, a feminist.

(Anyone who, at the age of 13 stands in a room full of air cadets and refuses to sit down because the chap in charge said “sit down gentlemen” is definitely a feminist. Yes I did that, multiple times until he progressed from “sit down gentlemen, sit down cadet knowles” to “sit down ladies and gentlemen” it was a small victory but I was proud.)

That perception of feminists and the feminist movement was never entirely accurate, and it certainly is not now. I don’t deny there are people out there claiming to be feminsts who do not really seem to know what equality means. There are misandrists out there who believe that this is a fundamental part of feminism.

It isn’t.

There is no right way to be a woman, there is no feminist constitution that gives a list of criteria that you must fulfill to get consideration and equality. Modern intersectional feminism gives consideration to the fact that women from different walks of life (countries, backgrounds, races, ethnicities, sexualities etc) face different challenges when fighting for equality. There are women out there who have extra challenges to face which do not enter into the picture for white, straight women. Sexism for me, in my daily life is an annoyance, sexist oppression for others can be life threatening.

I do not claim to be an expert, but one thing I strongly believe is that feminism is about fighting for equality in the way that works best for individuals and communities. It is not, and this bears repeating, trying to turn women into men!

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