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Feminism: Sexual Revolution to Modern Day

Taylor Normann, Contributor

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“I myself have never been able to find out precisely what feminism is: I only know that people call me a feminist whenever I express sentiments that

 

differentiate me from a doormat.” -Dame Rebecca West. (1892-1983) British journalist, novelist, and critic (8).

 

Feminism is defined by the Merriam-Webster dictionary as “the theory of the political, economic, and social

equality of the sexes and or organized activity on behalf of women’s rights and interests” first used in 1895 (1).

Before I can properly compare the 2nd and 4th waves I need to give brief summaries on the other waves.
1st wave is, of course, the start of feminism. It is here the fight for women’s equality began, lasting from the late 1800’s to the early 1900’s (9). The longest wave and fading with the 19th amendment ratified to allow women to vote in 1920 (10).
We’re skipping 2nd and 4th because those are what I will be covering in-depth later in the article.
3rd wave Feminism began in the mid 1990’s and its disputed if it truly ended. If the fourth wave has really begun or there is no fourth wave and it’s just the persevering 3rd wave. I, myself shall consider it ended and the 4th wave beginning in 2012. I will only be covering United States Feminism in this article, due to length, although there are countries around the world in dire need of feminism. Another article on feminism around the world might be written at a later date.

 

2nd Wave Feminism

Dawning in the 1960’s 2nd wave Feminism’s main goals were workplace equality and a woman’s sexuality. The future of American women in the early 1960’s prior to this movement was they were expected to follow one set and defined path laid out for them: to marry in her early 20s, swiftly start a family of at least two children, and reserve the rest of her life to homemaking (4). The average time spent on housework, 55 hours a week. As one woman at the time put it, “The female doesn’t really expect a lot from life. She’s here as someone’s keeper — her husband’s or her children’s.”
Although women in the workplace offered little improvement. The 38% of American women, managing to get a job, were largely limited to jobs as teacher, nurse, or secretary (4). Low-paying clerical and administrative work were the norm jobs they could get. In addition, females were paid less than their male counterparts with seldom an opportunity to advance as their bosses assumed the women would become pregnant before long and

quit. Or they did not have families relying on their income, dissimilar to their male coworkers (4). Then a revolutionary invention was approved by the FDA [U.S. Food & Drug Administration]– the pill (11). The pill, approved for contraceptive use in 1960, allowed women to control the path of their

 

careers, at least when they paused due to pregnancy was concerned. Without the pill, a defining feature of the sixties, it’s “sexual revolution” could not have taken place (11 , 4). Anti-Contraception effective as birth control aided breaking a long held double standard permitting sex before marriage for

 

men but discouraging it from women. By 1965, 6.3 million women are on the pill (11). Sadly, this caused a divide in 2nd wave feminists, Anti-porn and Sex-positive feminist split the movement, known as the “Sex Wars” (6). Disagreements on sexuality, not limited to pornography, erotica, prostitution, lesbian sexual practices, the role of trans women in the lesbian community, sadomasochism and further issues pertaining to sex, eventually leading to the 2nd Wave of Feminism ending in the early 1980’s (6).

4th Wave Feminism

As I previously stated, 4th Wave Feminism got its contested start in 2012 and separates itself from 3rd wave Feminism with the widespread use of social media. While the internet was developing in the 90’s, the 4th Wave of Feminism is defined by its use of social media sites and organization through social media.
Be that as it may, the newest wave definitively had begun when Wendy Davis had her 13 hour filibuster in Texas for the purpose to prevent an abortion bill to pass that would shut down an approximate amount of nearly all Texas abortion clinics (7). Everyday women showed their support by holding rallies around the Texas State Capitol in Austin, and those who couldn’t attend in person used #StandWithWendy on their social media accounts.
4th Wave Feminist focus on issues in regard to street and workplace harassment, rape culture, and campus sexual assault (7). Rape culture being “an environment in which rape is prevalent and in which sexual violence against women is normalized and excused in the media and popular culture perpetuated through use of misogynistic language, objectification of women’s bodies, and the glamorization of sexual violence.” as defined by Marshall University, WV Women’s Center (12). Workplace harassment is unwelcome behaviour from a boss or superior, coworker, group of coworkers, vendor, or customer whose actions, communication, or behavior mocks/demeans/puts down/disparages/or ridicules an employee. Physical assaults, threats, and intimidation are intense patterns of harassment and bullying (13). Street Harassment consists of “Catcalls, sexually explicit comments, sexist remarks, homophobic slurs, groping, leering, stalking, flashing, and assault. Most women and some men will face gender-based street harassment by strangers in their life. Street harassment limits people’s mobility and access to public spaces. It is a form of gender violence and it’s a human rights violation.” this information gathered from stopstreetharrassment.org (14). I’m assuming there be no need to explain campus sexual assault as it is self explanatory. 4th wave Feminism includes giving support and aid to male sexual assault victims and allowing men to enjoy more ‘feminine’ pastimes without fear of judgement or loss of masculinity.
Scandals spreading like wildfire through social media have added to the heightened momentum of 4th Wave Feminism. Including but not limited to the 2012 Delhi gang rape, 2012 Jimmy Savile allegations, Bill Cosby allegations, 2014 Isla Vista killings, 2016 trial of Jian Ghomeshi, 2017 Harvey Weinstein allegations, the 2017 Westminster sexual scandals, and senator Al Franken in 2017. (7). The movement is still ongoing.

The Students of Georgetown High School Opinions on Feminism.

I asked many students of the school for their opinions on feminism and many of the girls were reluctant to share. A rough estimate, over 75% of the girls I asked did not want to share their opinion or did not have one on feminism. Next common trait was the girls that did give me their opinions were always sure to declare they did not approve of “feminists” who take their believes too far into the territory of man-hatred. Julia Bontempi was the first girl agreeing to speak on me on feminism when I asked. She told me, “I really don’t care about feminism. I think it’s stupid, I think it’s dumb because there’s just studies that show men are good at somethings,and then there are other things women are good at. It’s dumb to say we should all be equal because that’s not how we were made. Humans, themselves are made differently, we’re not the same person. You can’t have quality when it comes to people themselves.Savanna Gonzalez “Feminism is something that happens a lot still. I’m not a feminist but I don’t believe in the fact that, y’know, women are lesser than men. We [women] can do anything they [men] can do, just as long as people know that, ‘know everything is good.” “I feel like feminism is just like a way bit too far, feminists take it like way too far. I mean we should still have equal rights and everything but we shouldn’t be like ‘man-ing up to a man. Like, we [women] should have our place then a man’s place.” Devin Renee Thomas. Tierra Flores “My opinion on feminism is I think it’s a really good thing, except that people push it way too far sometimes. I mean, it’s a thing that we all need, it’s the belief that everyone should be treated equally. Not just man, not just a woman, but both, coexisting. We need it to assure no specific gender gets special treatment because they have different parts.” Hannah Byerly “Basically, my opinion on feminism is that it gets docked a lot for y’know being the idea of like, bashing on men when it’s really the idea of equality and I think that women have taken it to the extreme just because in the past women have not been seen as equals. Women are still working and fighting to get everything that men can get so easily, when we [women] have to work twice as hard and often get half the pay off. Especially from a lot of men, we getting the whole ‘if you’re a feminist you hate men that means y’know you’re a horrible [woman] about inequality.’ That’s the opposite of what the goal is.”

Taylor Price “I agree with the fact that all women should have equal rights. But I don’t think that feminism is really necessary anymore. Because, like we all have equal rights. I believe feminism isn’t a way for women to have equal rights but like have more than that.”Bianca Daniels “If you were to ask me about feminism I think that it’s a reasonable cause to fight for because there is oppression for a lot of people. Women do face trials and challenges. I think its a cause worth fighting for. I would actually not call myself a feminist because I think that there are other issues that might be a little more important than feminism at the moment. Ashley Normann “Feminism means equality right? Why wouldn’t everyone want equality? I’d call myself a feminist if it means equality. I am a feminist.” Megan Kathleen Baker “Feminism isn’t about equal rights for women, but equal rights for everyone in general.” Ashley Reed “I think the popularity of encouraging feminism nowadays is a wonderful thing because we live in a world where its been male-dominated for so long that because it’s getting more popular– we’re [woman are] finally getting in there.” Chloe Malley was very eager to give me her opinion. “My opinion on feminism, modern day feminism, is that it focuses on issues that in America are a little bit pointless and stupid. The majority of feminists are generally good people and genuinely want equality, I think that they are fighting a battle that is not present in America. If they wanted to focus on equality between the sexes they should go to countries, like Saudi Arabia where sharia law is currently in place, where women are being killed for taking off their burqas– acid is being splashed on their face. Trans and LGBT members are being thrown off of buildings for the sole purpose of being who they are. I think in comparison America who does not have a problem with gender inequality.” Naturally, I didn’t just interview women, though I shall admit to seeking a majority of my interviews with them because of the subject matter. Nicholas Dunn “I feel that feminism is a good way for women to get equal rights,but I feel that some people when they think of feminism, they think it’s just people getting very angry and it’s just women attacking males. I don’t feel it is that way I feel they want to be equal to men but they don’t have the same rights as men do which yes there is a difference between the sexes. So yes, I feel that feminism is a good way to find equal pairing in both of the genders, so we can both be equal because there is no difference in our souls, just genitals.” Michael Mersiovsky “I think of feminism. . . it’s a very complicated subject right now. This world is very sensitive but I would say it’s not very good. I would just hope that everyone has equality.” Adri Wilson “Feminism shouldn’t even be a thing to be honest. Don’t take that the wrong way though. What I mean is that there shouldn’t be a need for it, men and women should be equal and it’s super weird that we are STILL struggling to be so.” Daniel Gil Lamadrid “[Feminism] To educate women and men how to respect each other, to teach girls to be what they want to be rather than what others think they should be expresses the true nature of feminism. If we could conquer the stereotypes and unfair rules that keep feminism a movement instead of a foundation for society as it should be, it would be, by far, the greatest achievement of human society. As a guy, I believe that if men and women worked together to achieve gender equality, we would all be better off.”

 

Info Found:
1. https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/feminism
2. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_feminism
4. https://tavaana.org/en/content/1960s-70s-american-feminist-movement-breaking-down-barriers-women
6. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Feminist_sex_wars
7. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fourth-wave_feminism
8. https://www.britannica.com/biography/Rebecca-West
9. https://www.pacificu.edu/about/media/four-waves-feminism
10. https://www.ourdocuments.gov/doc.php?flash=false&doc=63
11. http://www.pbs.org/wnet/need-to-know/health/a-brief-history-of-the-birth-control-pill/480/
12. http://www.marshall.edu/wcenter/sexual-assault/rape-culture/
13. https://www.thebalance.com/what-is-harassment-1917918
14. http://www.stopstreetharassment.org/

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