Feminism: the advocacy of women’s rights on the ground of the equality of the sexes.
With the first rallying cry beginning with the The Suffragettes in the 19th century calling for the right for women to vote, down to the second wave of feminism with books like Betty Friedan’s The Feminine Mystique and Simone de Beauvoirs Second Sex which rallied against systematic sexism. Feminism in its core is about respecting diverse women’s experiences, identities, knowledge, strengths and striving to empower all women to realise their full potential.
The fight for equal rights sought to level the playing field between the genders to ensure that diverse women, including women and girls of colour have the same opportunities in life available to them as boys and men do.
However, in recent years many young women and interestingly enough lesbians seem to reject the term, saying that they do not identify with it.
Even with the large #MeToo movement, it seems that it has become a taboo in reversal, with women themselves throwing around terms like “feminazis” which is a nod to the “man hating dyke.” But what does that mean exactly in this day and age?
While feminist movements have campaigned and continue to campaign for women’s rights, it would be complacent to say that equality has been achieved. In the West, lesbians and women in general are largely free to be who they are, achieve their goals and use the freedoms fought for us by earlier feminists, however for want of a better term, the battle is far from over.
There are still obstacles for women around the world and many more societal battles to be won. In many countries, women still do not have the right to vote, to own property, to receive education and so forth.
In the West, gender pay-gap disparity, rape, sexual harassment and reproductive rights, especially for lesbians and lesbians of color, are still hot bed issues.
Those words still ring true and if equality and inclusion is what we seek, then we should not reject the term but rather embrace it, redefine it and reframe it’s meaning for women of today and in the future. Rather than worry about what the label represents, perhaps we should use our freedoms and priviliges to fight the good fight for women who are not yet free. The final stage of healing and acceptance comes when you use your strengths to help other people and not argue about labels. We are women, We are Lesbians, We are someone’s mother, sister, aunty, lover and friend. Together we are strong.
In the words of Angela Davis…
“I’m no longer accepting things I cannot change, I’m changing the things I cannot accept.”
Are you with me?