The misinterpreted feminism

Ruta, Pavel and Denis, Estonian team

Feminism is a fairly misunderstood concept amongst young people. By definition, feminism is concerned with women’s rights to equal opportunities and dismantling the patriarchal system in masculine societies. While feminist movements worldwide were commenced on different decades, it is noteworthy to mention that one of the earliest is the suffragette movement where women demanded the right to be part of the political domain by voting. Before these movements, women were seen as domestic individuals, mainly portrayed within the walls of a house; their duties revolved around household chores, as it was crudely put in the Victorian era “angel of the house”. As for their rights, they were considered as second-class citizens with no rights to education, ownership of property, custody of children, control over their bodies, and equal pay. Simply put, feminism is about protecting women’s rights and empowering their status in the society.

The misinterpretation of feminism is not a recent topic, and there are many reasons behind the rise of this dilemma. One of the main reasons is the fact that it is not properly introduced in schools. It is always a subject talked about behind the scenes. Moreover, in masculine societies as defined by Hofstede men are smart, confident, and strong whereas women are emotional, caring, and humble. It is more or less of a taboo to discuss feminism freely since these societies encourage men’s involvement in the outer sphere and women’s inclination in the private sphere. Women’s ability to object such patriarchal views is vilified. The masses usually fight and refuse the unknown, and because feminism is only discretely discussed and encouraged, this is grounds for dispute.

‘Feminism means that women hate men’ is the second factor that plays such a huge role in mistaking the feminist movement. Surprisingly enough, many people seem to confuse feminism with the hatred towards men. This argument is supported by both men and women, who do not really grasp the definition of feminism. While, it is true that feminists fight against men dominated societies (i.e., patriarchy), this does not entail that they resent men. On the contrary, there are many feminists who are men, just like there are many supporters of patriarchy who are women. Clearly, feminism has nothing to do with loathing men, its main objective has been and continues to be the assurance of retaining women’s legitimate rights.

Many young people think of feminism in a controversial manner, as they are not aware of the problems that women face daily around the world. They compress the concept to only relate it to the Western world since what they are majorly exposed to is examples of Western feminism. Deriving from that, they overlook many other countries, including their own, which are still struggling against the male-dominant oppressive regime. Some youth also think that because the status of women in first world countries has improved that they no longer need or should even battle for women’s rights. People often misunderstand the silence of women as a sign for conformation to such traditional gender roles. Feminism is a challenge that every society should confront.

To conclude, the aforementioned reasons are just a few among many others, and the list is rather long to be included in one article, just like the struggles of women all around the world. Feminism is not an alternative for men, it strives to achieve a level of balance between men and women, where they can co-exist without feeling that one is inferior to the other. There are always many elements that would influence young people to go against such arguable matters. Therefore, this fight can remarkably succeed with the cooperation of both women and men against the patriarchal system.