As a woman growing up in the 21st century, identifying myself as a "feminist" has given me a multitude of reputations, all varying in viewpoints. The term feminism has branched itself into so many different avenues: the strong woman who can do everything and anything, the female whose all about body confidence and embracing her inner self, and the list goes on and on. But for someone like me, who used the word feminist as a way to describe herself, starts to question what the term's true meaning is and who it pertains to.
So, what really is feminism?
The literal definition of the word is, "the advocacy of women's rights on the grounds of political, social, and economic equality to men." The term derives from the French word "feminisme", and was created by an English socialist in the 1890's. Women who considered themselves feminist were women who lived domesticated lives, and wanted to expand their knowledge and talents out into the real world. These founders of the movement wanted to have jobs, earn money, support themselves without having to rely on their spouse, and ultimately, not feel ashamed for wanting what they wanted.
Could it be said that our generation has misinterpreted this idea?
It all depends on perspective. In the world we live in today, women are no longer seen as dependent individuals or submissive to their male counterparts. While some nations are still piling onto the progressive train, America has done it's best to end discriminatory fronts towards women in the workforce, home, politics, and social aspects. As opposed to the females of the 20th century, young girls today are influenced by the media, and the innovative, creative, smart women of the future who teach them that anything is possible. We are inspired and encouraged to want to be educated, and achieve our goals, and not feel mandated to settle into a typical motherhood, if that is not what we choose. Although our generation follows these ideals and pursues them, the stereotypes that go along with what a feminist looks like or acts like can give the word a bad reputation. But if men and women alike see past the "man-haters" (yes that is a real thing), and the anti shavers of the world, they can see the true message that they are trying to get across: that women have rights and responsibilities, and they should be fulfilled and respected.
Will we ever reach a fully feminist society?
Although the feminist movement can create controversy, the goal of the movement has an optimistic possibility of becoming a reality. The term feminism is what started this movement, but the people who believe in it and stand by its basis, are the ones that keep the ball rolling. So if in 50 years the word feminism is long gone, but the people believe in the right to a woman's equality, the women of the early 20th century had accomplished their duty.
As a feminist who does not consider herself to be part of any one mold, our generation's social media crazed and hyper-activist personification, can be a bit of a pill to swallow. But in order to make our world a collective one which embraces individuals, no matter their gender, we need to come together and work towards building a world where females everywhere can be who they want and have the ability to grow into the person they want to become.