The Real Meaning Of Feminism
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Politics and Activism

The Real Meaning Of Feminism

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The Real Meaning Of Feminism
VOICES; The Ursuline Magazine

As much as I hate to admit it -- I never truly understood the meaning of the word, “feminism,” until after my recent decision to double major in English literature, here at East Carolina University. I previously justified my ignorance with the negative stereotypes surrounding the term, causing me to associate feminism with the beliefs of radical, misandrist women, rather than the advocacy of gender equality. After learning the true meaning of feminism, I began to realize the influences that these fabricated connotations were having on my generation. Luckily, famous actress and human rights advocate, Emma Watson, gave an inspirational speech regarding the importance of gender equality at United Nations headquarters, a few weeks ago. Not only was I ecstatic that such a prominent figure was advocating for the equal treatment of men and women, I was also inspired to share my thoughts on the issue of misogyny.     

As a young woman growing up in the United States, I have been influenced by the media my entire life. Television shows, fashion magazines, cell phones and social media websites have consumed a large portion of my existence, just as the rest of our generation. Sure, there are pros to having the entire world sitting underneath our fingertips, but many of us have not considered the prejudices, stereotypes and unrealistic views that the media bombards us with.     

I remember watching the movie, A Walk To Remember, for the first time at my fifth grade class girls' sleepover. The idea of a handsome, popular guy falling in love with a kind hearted, smart and “average” looking girl was ideal to me. This particular film, along with the number of Disney VHS’ collecting dust on a shelf at home, created the image of what my life was supposed to look like -- a perfect prince saving me from my loveless existence despite the other numerous beautiful women he has to choose from. I was convinced that all I needed to make me happy was a significant other, a handsome man to sweep me off my feet. Sadly, that idiotic and unrealistic idea, along with the unattainable standard of beauty, caused me to become confused and depressed later on in my life, along with thousands of other girls experiencing the same confusion.

Then, there are the young men of our generation who are convinced that the size zero women on commercials and magazine covers actually exist. Boys are taught from a young age that women are supposed to be perfect. There is no possible way women are able to achieve this standard of beauty, because it simply isn’t true. These women depicted in magazines, films, and television shows are usually photoshopped, or have willingly put themselves under the care of a plastic surgeon. On top of that, the majority of women depicted on screen are seen as sexual objects. Why is it that women strive to become, and men strive to be with, these unrealistic media images if they aren’t even real?

Males are also taught from a young age that anything associated with being feminine is in the wrong. We, as humans are emotional creatures. The fact that it is not socially acceptable for men to cry when they are upset, but it is for women, justifies my argument. 

Feminism is not something that only women should be advocating. Feminism is the equal treatment of men and women, and in order for our society to make that clear, we need to make some changes. Women need to stop comparing themselves to society's standards of perfection, and men need to stop generalizing women by their physical appearances. In order for us to make a significant change, we must learn that our society is not made up of men and women. Our society is made of people. We, as humans, have created these unequal standards over time, so it is now our job to reverse them.         

You can hear what Emma Watson has to say on the topic of gender equality, and her advocacy of the HeForShe campaign, by clicking the link below:   https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q0Dg226G2Z8

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
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