By Camilla Marais | Culture Editor

As I have made my way through higher education, and lived through new experiences that come with it, my mind has been exposed to new concepts and perspectives. I want to preface this observational piece on contemporary feminism within our culture by stating that I consider myself extremely lucky to have had the exposure and guidance that I have. That being said, I also recognize the amount of growth and content I will continue to be exposed to, which will undoubtedly evolve my understanding of this multi-layered subject.

We have heard critiques, such as statements that contemporary feminism is more of an anti-male tirade than a quest for equality, along with supportive statements, such as women’s continual struggle for equal pay has made significant progress over the years. We have heard calls for action, as women’s marches across the country demanded more equality and protection of women’s rights. We have heard pleas for peace, reminding American women of the privilege we experience already, while women across the world are still shunned for pursuing an education. These conflicting messages, while each holding truth, honestly confused me. As a white female in America, I need to be constantly reminded of the privilege I have. I am able to speak my mind, pursue an education, wear what I please, and apply for any job that I would like. At the same time, I am also aware of the wage gap very present in any profession I pursue; I see the affects of misogyny, sexism, and ultimately rape culture on my campus. I cannot help but notice both the blessings and persecution women around me face in our country.

One of the most noted feminist critiques is Jessa Crispin, author of “I Am Not a Feminist.” In an interview with WBUR, Crispin asked how it is possible that 53 percent of white women voted for Donald Trump—and that many of them consider themselves feminists? Her answer is part of a scathing take-down of modern feminism—which she says has become too mainstream and fashionable—to the point that it seeks to join the male-dominated corporate culture that it once opposed. Crispin brings up the reality of 2017 feminism, which lacks focus on politics but often excludes women of color/homosexual women/trans women. In The Huffington Post, journalist Lauren Masservey, shared her criticism of contemporary feminist acts, saying: “This kind of attitude makes everyone forget the heart of the issue: that women are seeking EQUALITY, not superiority.” She emphasized that true feminism is based on respect, not only for women, but for other genders as well. Women cannot live in a fair world where another gender or group of people are being oppressed. These statements resonate with me, as I have witnessed one too many vulgar Twitter rants gone wrong. While it is a blessing that as American women we have protected freedom of speech, our words and intentions should reflect the seriousness and truth of our situation.

A major recent success for feminism was the wave of 2017 Women’s Marches that took place across our country. From Washington, D.C. outwards, women and their allies came together to protest equality for all. A beautiful aspect of these marches was that they showed support for other minority groups, such as Black Lives Matter, climate change support, and immigrant’s rights. The march was also 100-percent violence-free, which made a huge statement about the activists themselves. This march is successful feminism in action. Feminism has radically changed the world we live in, from voting rights to scientific discoveries, education opportunities to legal abortions. While feminism has room for improvement, we can still recognize and appreciate its contributions to equality throughout history.

 

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