What Does It Mean to Be a Feminist?

For centuries, women have fought for equality and against oppression, and although some battles have been partially won, we are still disproportionately affected by various forms of violence and discrimination in all aspects of life.

The concept of feminism can be seen as a movement to end sexism, with a view to achieving gender equality. But being a feminist is not something particular to any sex or gender and, currently, we can think of this way of being in life as a movement to end not only sexist oppression, but also racism, classism and homophobia.

THE HISTORY OF FEMINISM

In most societies, women were traditionally confined to the home as daughters, wives and mothers. Some may have played an important role in cultural and political life, but at the same time, they were still invisible.

One of the first movements organized by women emerged in the 19th century, although the fight for equality has always been part of all human societies. The fight for the right to vote (suffrage movement), for example, emerged much earlier and included mass demonstrations and organized debates.

It was only at the beginning of the 20th century that women were allowed to enter university and have a career. After the end of the Second World War, they gained equal political rights as men in most European countries.

EQUALITY & JUSTICE

Women can wish to have equal rights as men without this meaning that they will be harmed. At the same time that feminism seeks to promote women's causes, it also wishes to address issues related to men to help them expand their emotions freely. The idea is to open up possibilities so that everyone can grow and be happier.

According to an article published in the magazine Psychology Today , written by sociology professor Deborah J. Cohan, there are several changes in society from which we have all benefited over the last few years, namely:

  • The right to vote;
  • The right to choose if (and when) we will have children;
  • Being able to buy a property with your own name on the deed;
  • Being able to travel without needing your husband’s authorization;
  • The possibility of pursuing any type of work previously done only by men.

UNDERSTANDING SEXISM TO UNDERSTAND FEMINISM

Sexism consists of perceiving and judging people solely based on the fact that they belong to a certain sex or gender. It applies to men and women, but it is believed that women are more affected by sexism than men in all areas of life (example: being the target of rants and/or comments that objectify a woman's body, reacting to the way they dress).

This type of discrimination is based on the manifestation of historically unequal power relations between women and men, something that prevents the full advancement of women in society. To combat it, it is necessary to implement appropriate legislation, policies and programs.

HUMAN RIGHTS

Women's rights are human rights. All over the world, women are denied their human rights just because of their sex or gender. Women's rights should not be seen as special rights: they are enshrined in international human rights treaties and include the rights to freedom, life, privacy, health, security and many others.

The absence of adequate sanctions favors a climate of impunity that contributes to the repetition of crimes against women. Still, they are still the main precursors in the fight for their emancipation.

POSITIVE IMPACT OF FEMINISM ON BODY IMAGE

Madeleine A. Fugère, professor of psychology and author of The Social Psychology of Attraction and Romantic Relationships , states that “feminists can have a more positive body image of themselves”. The researchers also found that, among women of different sexual orientations, feminist beliefs are associated with pride and appreciation of the body.

Some authors suggest that feminism helps reduce the idea of ​​negative body image, which can consequently increase women's feelings of sexual attractiveness and improve their intimate lives.

Sources: Psychology Today, Deborah J. Cohan and Madeleine A. Fugère

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