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Do we still need feminism?

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Image news feminismIs feminism still relevent in the 21st century? Tom Andrew Munro and Becci Jameson discuss.

Tom Andrew Munro is a second-year student studying English language and linguistics with media. He is arguing for feminism.

Do we still need feminism? To answer this curtly, I believe we do, despite women in the UK striving for and achieving roles in our society of ‘equality,’ –  possible examples of this including Margaret Thatcher and J.K. Rowling. Even though their fields are not linked they have both achieved great things, and the common denominator that has allowed them to achieve such success is feminism.

 J.K. Rowling has achieved in what many female writers in the past could not, the recognition for her work in spite of being a woman. Emily Brontë, a Victorian author, wrote under the pen name “Ellis Bell” so that her novel ‘Wuthering Heights’ would achieve recognition in a world dominated by the prevalence of male dominance, one where women deemed as second class citizens; a major theme present in her work.

In spite of this ‘equality’ women are still under-paid in certain fields, or deemed inappropriate, not by law but by the demeaning societal constructs that are still firmly embedded in today’s society.

‘Sl*t shaming’ is also still a serious problem in today’s society. In a society where it is deemed okay and sometimes even celebrated in some cases for men to have an array of sexual encounters, women are in many instances widely shunned and shamed. This inequality in the sexes may not seem extreme, yet how many times have you heard, in reference to a sexual assault case, something along the lines of “but look at the way she dresses, she’s not doing herself any favors,” or “she was asking for it”?

In popular culture ‘sl*t shaming’ can be witnessed all across the internet in memes, one example being “Hey Girls. Did you know that you spread Nutella…not your legs.” This is a meme that has frequented many Facebook users news feeds.

The definition of Feminism given by the Oxford English Dictionary is “the advocacy of women’s rights on the ground of the equality of the sexes.” A simple concept, but one which many people have trouble with.

Women are certainly still more critiqued in their actions than men, whether it be “sleeping around” or going into fields of work deemed “inappropriate”, they are constantly under the watchful and judgmental eye of not only the male sex; but also their fellow women. A great quote from the film ‘Mean Girls’ seems appropriate here: “You all have got to stop calling each other sl*ts and wh*res. It just makes it ok for guys to call you sl*ts and wh*res. Who here has ever been called a sl*t?” This quote summarizes what most teenage girls, and a worrying number of adult women have being doing: Shaming one another for their sexual choices, whether real or imaginary.

As  equality between the sexes has not yet been fully realised, there is still a need for feminism, potentially more than ever in the every changing modern society of 2014.

Becci Jameson is a third year student studying English literature. She is arguing against feminism.

We have a lot to thank feminism for: women can vote, they are not oppressed in the workplace or at home, and it has levelled the playing field between men and women. But enough is enough. Many of the problems that plagued women’s rights in the 1920s – 1960s are just not an issue any more.

Many people, including myself, believe that the feminist movement is outdated and old fashioned. It presents an image of an overbearing women who want to dominate rather than promote equality between the sexes. I believe it is unacceptable.

Feminism is just too aggressive to be taken seriously these days. We have enough strong female role models to inspire the next generation that we don’t need publicity stunts like burning bras and chaining ourselves to government buildings. In politics alone we have had Margaret Thatcher, and although she was not popular with all was a strong politician who was re-elected for a third term – something which is rare in modern politics. Germany’s Angela Merkel, who has been their Chancellor for nine years is also a strong example. These women have paved the way without overly addressing the views of feminism, instead being chosen because they were deemed the right person for the job.

There will always be sexism but it is becoming less of a problem. In my opinion, sexism is just an excuse for lazy women not to try. In the past, inequality meant that women needed to be brave in order to voice their opinions. That is not an issue now, strong women do not need to be feminists to do well in a high powered job.

Feminism is constantly pushing the issue too far and has lost sight of the natural roles of men and women. It is good to fight for equality but we also need to celebrate our differences, otherwise there will be a lack of discussion or changes of opinion. We need to celebrate what women can bring to business rather than expect them to be just like the men who are the current majority in that field. I am not saying a woman’s place is in the home but if she wants to be there, then that is her decision and one we should not criticise. I feel like feminism tries to force young mothers to abandon their children in order to dominate their workplace when many mums don’t want to do that.

I don’t want to be labelled as a feminist – we need to celebrate our femininity rather than run around masquerading as a man in a male-centric world. Women are exhausted trying to conform to the masculine version of power.

‘Netmums’’ recently released a survey that showed that many modern women believe feminism is irrelevant now. Only 1 woman in 7 who completed the survey describes herself as a feminist. The focus now in our modern world needs not to be on what is wrong and what we need to change but on what is already right and what we want to truly achieve. The first step forward is for women to be women and to embrace the feminine qualities we naturally possess.

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About Author

Becci Jameson

Deputy Editor, Design - 2013/14

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