What does feminism mean?
Simply put, feminism is the belief that men and women should be equal. While these two genders have different needs socially and biologically, feminism advocates that some needs are universal and other needs should be treated with the same importance, even if they do not concern other genders. For this reason, “equality” can be considered an equality of opportunities (for example, women are as likely to enter this professional path successfully as men) and equality of outcome (for instance, if an authoritative women will have the same social influence as a man).
The common topics in feminist activism is the social impact of sexism and misogyny, particularly when compounded with other marginalized identities such as racism and/or xenophobia for women of color as well, creating a culture of consent and sex-positive lives as opposed to sexual harassment and violence against women as well as advocating for autonomy over reproductive rights.
When did feminism start?
There is evidence of one of the first feminist protests dates back to Ancient Rome! Women had gathered to protest a law restricting them from accessing many goods, including gold, which was eventually repealed.
In recent history though, the 18th and 19th century Women’s Suffrage movement in demanding the right for women to vote is the beginning of feminism as we now know it. At that time, the right to vote was the core goal of the movement, but the fight against injustice had only begun. Every country has its own history of feminism, but the main essence of the movement remains the same: rising above patriarchal oppression and making gender equality commonplace.
Why is still feminism relevant today
While many (not all!) countries have granted fundamental rights like the right to be educated or the right to vote to women, there are still gender inequalities in society that feminism is fighting. The gender pay gap, reproductive rights, and discrimination towards women are important current issues that activists are striving to change so that women have agency around their financial health, their bodies and their safety. Feminism is definitely relevant today and that is why allies are very important: everybody’s help is needed to achieve gender equality.
While fronted by dedicated brave women, feminism is much more than a women’s movement! Removing gender bias allows everyone to thrive and grow. Imagine the impact of gender equality: anybody can shamelessly enjoy any hobby or enter any professional field, clothes are clothes, leadership is open to all. This is what we’re working for.
What is intersectional feminism?
Even though gender equity would help a lot, it is not the full picture. Intersectionality is a word coined to describe the complexities that occur when several of our identities come together. In this case, intersectional feminism is a term to acknowledge that all people of a gender do not experience the same things, nor the same way. Feminism changes based on other parts of a person, such as their age, their race, their nationality, their sexual orientation, their sex, their religion or their socioeconomic status. Intersectional feminism would be considered the opposite of white feminism, a term to describe a type of feminism perspective that does not acknowledge other types of marginalization.
This was especially important to Black women, in the early stages of feminism, who were advocating for their race to be recognized as an inseparable part of their womanhood. It also become relevant in putting forward lesbian and transgender feminists, who still had to face homophobia and transphobia respectively.
I’d like to help, but don’t know how
To be a feminist is the first step to combating inequality and gender oppression, so claim it! Being proud of being an ally for social change creates a culture of solidarity with the people that are oppressed. The next step is to educate yourself, such as reading feminist literature, listening to those around you affected by gender discrimination, asking questions online and staying aware of the current topics. Last step is to show your support. Advocate to those around you, support local feminist organizations, donate to them if you can, and check out our favorite featured feminist projects to stay up-to-date with the movement.