The Feminist Mystique Essay

2965 words - 12 pages

The Feminist Mystique Voices from a crowded New York city street shout, "Women unite!" "Say yes to equal rights for both genders!" "We demand justice!" The narrow avenues are filled with hundreds of people, primarily women, both young and old, with long hair and short, different shapes and sizes, all protesting and marching for the a single cause--women's rights.Women's struggle for equality between the sexes has changed the lives of every person in the United States. Without the feminist movement, women today would still be treated as property and looked down upon as inferiors by society. Feminism is a simple, yet seemingly complex philosophy that has shaped society, so that women are not treated like objects, but human beings. To fully understand the concept of feminism, one must examine the correct definition of feminism, a history of the women who have shaped our world, and the central belief system for most feminists.The idea of feminism and women's liberation in modern society has often been associated with negative ideas and activities such as man hating, lesbianism and women with a general contempt for the male race (Harlan 73). However, this so called "definition" of the feminist movement is not accurate or correct. One must consider the fact that many women who have been ardent supporters of the movement have married a member of the male race. Furthermore, there have been, and still to this day are, male feminists who support the ideals of women's liberation, attempting to end injustices against women such as violence, sexism and discrimination (Harlan 77).A correct definition of feminism would be simply put, any person who supports political, economic and social equality for women. This means that "any person," male or female, black or white, hetero- or homosexual, who believes in equality for all, could be considered a feminist by definition (Burns 13).There have been several different branches of feminism, all being mostly formed due to common interests in areas of a woman's culture, values, sexuality, and beliefs about society (Harlan 72).One subdivision of women's liberation are those people who call themselves the liberal, or equality feminists. The word "liberal" means freedom and this particular faction is based around the invaluable sovereignty a woman has over all areas of her life.There is a strong belief in the freedom to a woman's body, concerning both the issues of access to birth control and abortion. When it comes to men, liberal feminists don't look at them as inferior, but equal to women and also strive to break traditional gender roles and boundaries that have been established in today's society (Harlan 74).Another division of the movement are the radical feminists. Radical feminists focus on the differences rather than the similarities between men and women, putting all who are not female in a whole other breed of human beings. This group believes woman are, in fact, superior to men and that women have been...

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