Feminism


Recently I participated in a discussion about Feminism and Feminist pedagogy in the classroom. I contributed very little, because I realized that despite being a woman and advocating for equality, I knew nothing about feminism. This project is the beginning of a journey. My primary goal was to define feminism for myself and to learn about its history as a reference point. Subsequently, I will continue to read more literature about feminism. Additionally, I would learn how to incorporate feminist pedagogy into the classroom, and follow present-day media to stay informed about the developments in feminism. I took on this project to help myself learn more about the subject but also as a way to measure my own development and growth. I need to take ownership of my ideas; but, also understand that ideas can change and adapt over time.

Definition

After hours of research, I found a definition that encompassed the grounding ideas of feminist pedagogy. In its broadest terms, it is a “set of ideologies and movements that focuses on defining and achieving social, economic, and political equality for women” (Harley, 2018). As a broad definition, I understood the values of feminism; but, as I continued to read journal articles, it was clear that feminism has been categorized to include: essential feminism, liberal, social and radical feminism, empiricist, standpoint and post-modernist feminism. Each with their own definition and idea of what feminism should look like.

History

In the United States, there have been three waves of feminism, arguably four waves.

Censored

“The first wave occurred during the nineteenth century and early twentieth centuries and was prominent in the U.S. and the U.K.. Activities focused on women’s suffrage, or equal voting rights, as well as equality in marriage, sexuality, property ownership and economic matters” (Harley, 2018). It’s important to note, during that time women were not able to divorce or leave their husbands.

The second wave began in the 1960s in the United States. This wave focused more on the “reproductive rights, family issues, domestic violence and workplace equality” (Harley, 2018). Despite the important issues this movement tackled for women, the movement was criticized for excluding other ethnic groups. The movement focused mainly on white, upper-class women.

The third wave of feminism sought to improve upon the limitations of the second movement by focusing more attention to other ethnic groups. Moreover, the “movement challenges definitions of gender and promotes sexuality as female empowerment” (Harley, 2018).

Finally, some historians suggest that there has been a fourth wave of feminism associated with social media. This wave advocates against workplace harassment, sexual assault and rape culture.


Right or Wrong

Black and White, Right and Wrong

Over the course of its history, feminism has inspired controversy and even evoked fear to part of the general public, according to Karen Offen. “If words and the concepts they convey can be said to be dangerous, then ‘feminism’ and ‘feminist’ must be dangerous words, representing dangerous concepts” (Offen, 1988). Roxane Gay, an American writer and professor, wrote about how women who advocate for women’s rights and push beyond social barriers, are refusing to label themselves as feminists. She explained it was for different reasons in each case; however, the main reason was that they believed there was a right and wrong way to be a feminist, or that they would be categorized. In my opinion, I don’t think this is the case. I think that feminism is a journey. The concept changes as society changes; therefore, the ideology is constantly evolving. In reference to Gay’s essay, by categorizing feminism one risks excluding the importance of intersectionality.

Our Bodies