Feminism promotes equality for all


Photo by The Nation

The Women’s March took place in Washington D.C. by the National Mall on January 21, 2017.

From the “Declaration of Sentiments” by Elizabeth Cady Stanton to the signing of the 19th Amendment to the current fight for the survival of Roe v. Wade, feminist notions have advanced women’s rights and stepped closer equality. However, due to the many setbacks women still confront, feminist actions need to be implemented to improve their stature.

Women have been subjected to a position of inferiority, specifically to the male sex. Although this has decreased, gender-based discrimination has a clear pattern in our history that unfortunately persists regardless of the many strenuous efforts to equalize the sexes. In response to the consistent oppression women faced, feminist activity started in 1848 with the Seneca Falls convention, paving the way for the future waves of reproductive rights, sexuality, individuality and intersectionality. The fourth wave started in 2012, keying in on women empowerment.

Feminism is important because it doesn’t only strengthen women, but also helps society as a whole,” junior Eesha Kulkarni said. “Historically, feminist movements have made education, voting jobs more accessible to all people.”

While the meaning of the term feminist has changed over the years and differs from person to person, one of the major misconceptions of feminism is that it uplifts women by pushing men down. However, feminism is advocating for women’s rights in line with wanting equality between the sexes in all aspects of society. It works towards equality, not female superiority. 

“To help society understand what feminism really is, toxic feminism must be combated,” Kulkarni said. “Feminism is empowering those who have been held back due to societal expectations.”  

Unfortunately, its opposition has been drilled into our society and prevents many from accepting the feminist movement as a whole. Patriarchy is the social structure that holds men above women, placing women in an inferior position economically, politically and socially. 

“Patriarchy is a deeply-embedded part of society that has shaped society to be very polarizing in terms of gender,” junior Anushka Chivaluri said.“Feminism is an important cause because of how its supporters strive for equality of the sexes and to create a society where ideally everyone has the right to take part in decisions that affect them.”

Bear in mind, men face repercussions of patriarchy too. According to Nextgenmen, patriarchy harms men because it discourages them from presenting their feelings and “forces” them to adhere to the societal perceptions of manhood, making them lose their individuality and threatening their mental health. Every human should be able to show their emotions without facing pressure to conform to a stereotypical idea of something they cannot control: their sex. Through feminism, people can show their feelings without having constant, oppressive dominations controlling what they can and cannot express. 

Masculinity is associated with concealing emotions and flaws in general, so when looking at society, we often try to hide our flaws and emotions, when in reality, this is a very impractical and unhealthy practice,” senior Sreya Devarakonda said.  

According to Forbes, due to this ideology, many women are marginalized in their careers, especially in male-dominated ones like technology, finance and law. Furthermore, this inequality between the sexes amplifies the major issue of the gender pay gap, which is the disparity of wages between women and men when they perform the same work. According to Pew Research Center, in 2020, women earned 84% of what men earned. Expanding feminist notions, according to CAP, can bring enactment of policies combating patriarchy and bring equality—a core goal of feminism. 

In addition, women still tend to be the minority in certain fields as patriarchy has created a construct that women cannot engage in challenging ventures. For example, engineering has long been a field predominantly of men, who consist of 78.7% of the profession. Research done by Clemson states that feminist movements have led to more jobs for women in the engineering field by spurring the creation of organizations, such as Society for Women Engineering and Women in Engineering: Program Advocates Network. They strive for the equal treatment of women by collaborating with other technological companies and spreading awareness about the importance of equality in the workplace. These changes have increased opportunities for women who have used their technical expertise and thrive in the field. 

“Feminism empowers women and minorities to break the glass ceiling,” Kulkarni said. “At times women and minorities may feel like imposters in places of power due to the lack of representation they have there, but feminism helps them.”

Acknowledging and spreading the notion that women have the ability to attain their aspirations despite prejudicial ideas from society and that women and men should be treated equally are the key to unlocking a society of justice.  

“I know that instilling the values of feminism into our youth and anyone who is willing to listen can make the world a much better and safer place to be,” Chivaluri said.