Recently, the transnational feminist movement has taken up the struggle against debt as a banner of struggle as part of the dynamics of the feminist strike. Around the world, we have said, “We want ourselves alive and debt-free!” (Argentina), “It is us against debt!” (Puerto Rico), “They owe us a Life!” (Chile), “We don’t owe, we won’t pay!” (Spain). It is historic: the feminist movement is politicizing, at the mass scale, the financial issue. And, it is a feminist analysis of debt that allows us to rethink economic violence in terms of its relation to sexist violence.
Feminism might be predicated on a complex set of theories and ideologies, but its core premise is easy to comprehend. The primary goal of feminism is to achieve social, economic, and political equality of rights for women and men.
Feminism is used to refer to a broad spread of ideas, beliefs, movements, and agendas for change. Feminism also refers to any actions, particularly organized actions, that encourage changes in society to halt patterns that have disadvantaged females for generations.
Feminism: Origins of the Word
While the word “feminist” is commonly applied to historical figures like Mary Wollstonecraft (1759–1797), the terms feminism and feminist were not used until nearly a century after the publication of her seminal 1792 book (A Vindication of the Rights of Women).
It was in France as “féminisme” that the term first routinely cropped up in the 1870s. At the time, the word was used to describe the emancipation of women.
A leading campaigner for women’s suffrage, Hubertine Auclert, described herself and others like her as “féministe” in 1882.
From these beginnings, the term started becoming more widely adopted over the 1890s. The word began appearing in Great Britain and the U.S. from around 1894.
Feminism and Society In General
The vast bulk of modern societies are patriarchal in structure and constructed so that men are the dominant force when it comes to most political, cultural, and economic, decisions.
Feminism harnesses the fact that since women account for half of the world’s population and that true social progress is impossible without the total and spontaneous involvement of women.
Rather than examining what the world is like from a male standpoint as outlined above, feminist beliefs and ideals focus on how culture is for women.
The basic feminist assumption is that females are not treated equally to males and that, resultantly, women are disadvantaged. All else stems from this assumption.
The ideology of feminism explores how culture can be different between genders, and the extent to which is should be different. The overarching intention is moving from the status quo to a position of female equality via commitment to change and action to make that change happen.
Feminism and Sexuality
In almost all traditional societies, men have been expected to lead while women have assumed a quieter and subservient role. The ingrained concept of women not distracting men and taking a background role is hard to shake.
Feminism, though, embraces and celebrates female sexuality in stark opposition to this prevailing and deeply-embedded norm. Feminism attempts to address the double standard of a man being praised for having multiple sexual partners, while a woman is denigrated for the same behavior.
Women have been subjected over the years to varying degrees of sexual objectification at the hands of men. Taken to the extreme, some cultures insist upon women fully covering their bodies.
The modern media in some societies now routinely exploits female sexuality with sex selling products the world over and full nudity in movies relatively commonplace.
All of this conspires to create a confusing environment in our so-called enlightened societies.
Feminism in the Workplace
Inequality continues to pervade the workplace despite the best efforts of feminism.
Unequal salaries are surprisingly common in spite of the Equal Pay Act of 1963. Women still only earn 80.5 cents for each dollar men earn on average. This means median annual earnings for women are almost $15,000 less than for men.
Feminism: What It Is and What it Isn’t
The misconception that feminists are sexists in reverse refuses to die out. The truth is that feminists never seek to oppress men. Instead, all that’s being pushed for is equal treatment, equal opportunities, and equal compensation.
Feminist theories explore how the female experience is viewed by women of different ages groups, classes, and races.
The end goal of feminism, then, is to create a situation of non-discrimination so that equality can be meaningfully pursued. Feminism strives to ensure that nobody is denied rights because of race, religion, language, gender, social origin, or economic status.
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