Feminism is not about stealing men’s jobs or social positions. The term “feminism” may seem threatening to some men because they recognize, consciously or not, that expectations for both genders are shifting. Men might think that they are losing the power associated to the higher societal status they attained simply by being born male.
This isn’t what feminists are aiming for; they simply want equal consideration of their opinions and respect for their work in all social positions.
Younger women are more likely to subscribe to “third-wave” feminism, which began in the ’90s. This wave can be hard to define, because one of its main tenets is freedom of any gender expression. A gender “role” is, by nature, confining. Women can be dominant and submissive in different situations in the same day. They serve as employees, mothers, friends, entertainers, leaders, lovers and hundreds of other roles throughout their lifetime. When women seek to do something many people stereotype as the role of a “male,” they may be questioned or even rejected.
Feminism wants to abolish these stereotypes, even those for men. The newest wave of women doesn’t want to lord the high positions over men. The idea that men can’t show their feelings, have normal friendships with women, or have to lift things and fix cars is part of the patriarchy. In this sense, feminists don’t fight men – they fight the overarching social structure that defines the roles of men and women. We recognize that the existing structures damage everyone.
Modern feminism welcomes those who might not have previously felt included, like intersex or transgendered persons. It also acknowledges more clearly the influence class and race have on a social position. Leslie Haywood, author of “The Women’s Movement Today: An Encyclopedia of Third-Wave Feminism,” says, “one of its main emphases, in fact, has been on feminism and gender activism as only one part of a much larger agenda for environmental, economic and social justice, and one of its main arguments is that it is counterproductive to isolate gender as a single variable.”
This is where gender lines blur. “Househusbands,” as opposed to housewives, are certainly a modern twist. Women CEOs, firefighters and policewomen are also popular examples. Some issues are less obvious, like a woman’s right of abortion or prosecution of rape cases. Feminism strives for a dialogue that includes more female voices on these acts that affect mostly women, where men have previously dominated the discussion. Since men are also victims of rape and domestic violence, they should be included, but not to the same extent. It’s about finding a logical balance of opinions. To do the same for men, male nurses and elementary teachers should be considered in discussions that affect them, like education funding and the Affordable Care Act.
This doesn’t mean women don’t want to still practice more traditional female roles. Modern feminists can still choose to raise a family and not go into the workforce. They can take pride in their sewing and party planning abilities. Again, the idea is one of choice, not of discrimination. Feminism doesn’t criticize women who choose to wear makeup or dresses; in fact, “taking back femininity” is widely becoming a tool to make women feel better about themselves.
Women and men need to work together to recognize stereotypes, about themselves and each other. While it may feel like women are taking over, they’re really just trying to get on the same level. Men may lose some sway in arenas they have typically dominated, but they trade it for a more equal and rational discussion. A more equal society is better for everyone of every gender.
Logan Falletti is a senior in mass communications. Please send comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.