What is Feminism? Think for just a moment about your personal definition of Feminism. Difficult, huh? And what about the “official” and worldly accepted one? …almost impossible, as I figured.
The point is that we hear a lot of talks about Feminism but, still, it seems the world hasn’t come to an agreement that satisfies everybody. Feminism is such a wide concept that – as Chris Beasley says in her book What is feminism, Anyway? – “Any brief, neat account of feminism is likely to be disputed.”
Nonetheless, we should not give up on defining it, as giving a certain meaning to a word is the very first step to understand it.
What about “equality for women”? The problem with this definition, in my opinion, is the stereotype: the term equality is often abused and this could lead to many misconceptions. Although women have achieved to some degree equal opportunity in studying, working and so on, this does not mean that women are going to be paid as much as men or that they are going to have the same possibilities as men in getting a job (due to maternity leave for example), neither that they are going to be proportionally represented in a parliament.
The other huge misconception that people held is the one about “unequal opportunities” or reversed sexism: putting women before men in every situation. Now, we cannot hide the fact that a group of extremist feminists, the so-called “men-destroyer-women”, is out there doing some crazy stuff, and we know too well that humans love to tar everyone with the same brush. Anyhow, these same women are actually destroying the concept of feminism itself, putting men at the centre, instead of women: hating men, fighting men, destroying men, triumphing over man. It seems to me that this type of “ground” feminism lacks significantly of strong principles and beliefs, going against respectable movements such as “Ni Una Menos” or “Me Too”. Let’s take a look for example at the behaviour of young women of the new generation: what do you think is the effect produced by a short skirt? Expression of freedom or identification of women as objects? Again, have you ever noticed that some sections of media and journalism are pushing the same agenda today as they were on 1918? “Feminism is a war on men,” front-page and cap locks and the article is sold… I mean, can you imagine Emmeline Pankhurst pretending a free-entry to a club just because she is a woman? Neither can I.
But don’t get me wrong, the problem is not the skirt itself. The problem lays on our own perception of it: of course, in an ideal society everyone should feel free to do and wear whatever s/he wants, but guess what? We don’t live in an ideal society. And we are so used to objectify and stereotype everything and everyone around us that is almost impossible to avoid the chains of classification. So, if you wear an extra short shirt you must be a prostitute; if you comment more that you should the work of your colleagues, you are being annoyingly bossy; if a girl plays with car races or a football ball they say “Don’t be a tomboy!” but when it’s a boy playing with dolls or crying for the smallest thing it sounds more like “Don’t be a sissy!”. Although the reasons why we so often use stereotypes are so many to be explained in this context, I think there is still something we can do about it.
But first, let’s talk about how things work today. Well, at the end of the day it all comes down to education. When we were kids, we were taught to behave in a certain way; play only with specific games, do this and that, and for what? Raising a sexist and class-based society. Men should be the strong leaders of the family, the ones that work and make money, the ones that always know what’s the best thing to do and never hesitate, never show any kind of deep emotion. Women, on the other hand, should simply stick to the role of housekeeping, raising the children (and often their husbands too…), emotionally supporting everyone and always being faithful and patient. Of course, the trick works also in reverse: women expect the gentleman to pay for them on a date and men are supposed to always come in aid of a lady in need. Luckily, the twenty-first century society has done some great progresses. The number of women wanting to be economically independent and achieving it through equal income, succeeding to pursue a good career, stronger and self-aware, is rising.
The secret ingredient used until now is to assimilate women’s characteristics to the male model: what I mean is that our contemporary society is presenting the patriarchal model as the only and best one possible; but achieving gender equality in such a world is not equality at all, but rather conformism. Ok, I’ll admit it: said like that it sounds completely horrible. And as a matter of fact, it partially is… It seems to me that we are losing the feminine component of society with women racing to become the same thing as men, do and behave in the exact same way. And even though this has led to an increasing number of women working in historically only-male fields (such as engineering, science, construction working and so on) or to the implementation of new policies securing women a certain percentage of seats in parliament or in a company’s managing body (about this, we should ask ourselves as far equality can overstep “merit,” but this is a different topic…); on the other hand it led to the breakage of the ancient delicate “equilibrium” -forgive me the term- existing between men and women in society. Since going back to the past is neither possible nor acceptable, we have now to find a solution for the future. The first step to do so, as said at the beginning of the article, is to define what feminism is.
by Sara Manni
So here you go: my personal definition of feminism is simply being more of a woman and nothing else. Let me explain myself better. Men and women are not born to be equal, as a matter of fact no one is equal, no one is the same as the others. Men and women are born with beautiful differences among them and it would be extremely foolish to suppress these special individual qualities and conform them to only one standard (that is the male one) just for the sake of equality. Of course we have to stop raising girls as the weak genre; of course women must be treated with the same respect and enjoy the same rights and privileges as men do, and we still have a lot of work to do about this worldwide. However, there is a reason if men are better at something practical while women succeed in more theoretical matters dealing with empathy, communication and relationship. Let’s embrace diversity, celebrate it, let’s take advantage of it. If we find a way to collaborate, to teach women how to be more straightforward and steadier and men how to be more empathic and thoughtful, I am sure we, as a whole, would improve beyond expectation. So, no, mine is not a call for “equality”, it is a call for making this world a little bit more feminine.
- Charlotte Salomon: biography and paintings
- Chris Beasley: “What is feminism, Anyway?”
I’m Luca from Sardinia and I’m nineteen years old. Daydreamer, curious and fiercely passionate about everything new and creative, I spend my life always thinking what I can improve in order to make the world around me a happier place to live in: that’s the reason of my ambitiousness. About my interests, the two biggest passions are traveling and cooking: the way to get to know new people and cultures is always through the stomach, right? I am now looking forward to welcoming all of you on our big banquet: bring and share your best food!