Feminism is the belief that women are political, economic, social and intellectual equals to men, and should be treated as such. The fundamental elements of feminism revolve around the principle that just because human bodies are designed to perform certain functions, biological elements do not determine intellectual and social capabilities.
Feminists seek to establish equal opportunities for women in the workplace, at home and in education. Feminism also embraces the belief that all people are entitled to freedom and liberty (within reason), and that discrimination should not be made based on gender, sexual orientation, ethnicity or religion.
Women have been fighting for equality for well over 100 years now. Despite this long endeavour to combat sexism, there are several major issues regarding feminism today. These include (but are not limited to):
The Division of Domestic Labour
Eight out of ten women say they do more housework than their male partners – even more so in the cases of women with dependent children. This is because female domesticity is an idea that is so ingrained in society. Another consideration women must make is the fact that they are paid less than men, so there is less incentive for them to return to the workforce.
The media is the biggest perpetuator of unhelpful stereotypes and is full of constant misogyny. It is the main source of the pressure faced by women to look or act a certain way, in order to be deemed worthy to be objectified by the incessant male gaze.
The Glass Ceiling
While some Australian women do have more education and employment opportunities, gender equality at high-ranking levels in the workplace has yet to be achieved.
Issues of race, disability, sexual orientation and gender (amongst many other things) often combine to create a reality of extreme disadvantage for certain groups, and most of the time, these groups are female.
Violence Against Women
A large percentage of the world refuses to recognise rape within marriage as a criminal offence. Rape culture is prevalent in modern attitudes, expressed by rape jokes, victim blaming and slut shaming. 89% of regular domestic violence victims are women, and two women a week are killed by a male partner or former partner.
Another facet of the issues pertaining to modern feminism is the exclusion of minorities from the feminist pathway resulting in the concept of White Feminism. Marginalised women are asking to be acknowledged within the movement and refuse to be pushed into an archetype which forces them to alter their needs. Examples of this include:
- Being excluded by this movement because the terms have completely different meanings for women from other cultures.
- Refusing to cater: White feminists sometimes refuse to cater to the rights of asylum seeking women, women of colour, queer/lesbian/trans* women and working class women.
- Sex-positiveness: Sex-positive ideas are popular among white feminists; however, sexual promiscuity is an idea that is not welcome by many women of colour as they’ve been subjected to centuries of objectification and fetishizing by white people.
The termination of the above issues is important to the advancement of equality.
Words by Amber Dance