Defining Twenty-First Century Feminism

The definition of feminism is “the advocacy of women’s rights on the basis of the equality of the sexes.” However, more often than not, this definition is skewed by society that views feminists as female extremists fighting to be seen as more importance than men, but this is not the case.

The reason why people view feminists as more extreme than moderate is because the movement cannot be confined to a single space or time. Rather, the feminism seen today is the third major wave of feminism in history. The first wave, which occured between the 1830’s and 1900’s, allowed for women to gain political power. The second wave, taking place from the 1960’s to the 1980’s, focused on the workplace, sexuality, family, and reproductive rights. The third phase, occurring from the 1990’s up until present day, is trying to completely vanquish the issues faced by previous movements.

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Feminism is also being fought by women across the globe on many social platforms. But before one tries to understand the messages being shared on these platforms, one must be educated on the facts. Some basic gender inequality facts include: 4 out of 5 victims of human trafficking are girls, the United States exhibits an average of an 18.1% gender pay gap, and 62 million girls are denied an education all over the world. Also, every year, an estimated 15 million girls under 18 are married worldwide, with little or no say in the matter, and women currently hold 24, or 4.8 percent, of CEO positions at S&P 500 companies.

Emma Watson founded the HeforShe campaign, one the the first modern feminism campaigns of her generation, in June of 2014. Along with fellow United Nations ambassadors, Elizabeth Nyamayaro and Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, Watson, the United Nations Women Goodwill Ambassador, created this campaign to invite people around the world to stand together and create a bold force for gender equality. The campaign is meant to reach to people across the world, encourages both men and women to speak out against gender inequality and take action. This can be seen in the logo, which is able to cross language barriers by uniting the traditional gender symbols and creating a new symbol for shared humanity without writing a single word.

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On October 15th, 2017, in response to Ashley Judd accusing media mogul Harvey Weinstein of sexual assault, actress Alyssa Milano went to Twitter and encouraged women who had been sexually harassed or assaulted to tweet the words #MeToo, and within 24 hours, the hashtag was tweeted nearly half a million times. This action created a snowball effect in which other major actresses came forward to further accuse Weinstein and other Hollywood men of sexual abuse and assault. By December 6th, the movement gained so much influence that Time magazine named the “Silence Breakers” as its 2017 Person of the Year, citing individuals like Tarana Burke and Taylor Swift as forces behind this moment. This led to the birth of the Time’s Up Movement of January 1st.

The Time’s Up Movement encourages women to stand in solidarity and fight against sexual harassment in the workplace. Created by over three-hundred Hollywood women, the Time’s Up Legal Defense Fund was founded on the first day of 2018 as somewhat of a matchmaking service that pairs alleged victims with local attorneys. Since its creation, the fund, handled by National Women’s Law Center, has collected $21 million, and more than 1,800 women from across the country have asked for help. The supporters of the movement have continued to make statements and publicly fight against their oppressors. For example, on January 7th, many stars attended the 75th Golden Globes Awards dressed in black to show solidarity and raise awareness for the Time’s Up movement. Some stars also wore a Time’s Up pin that was designed by stylist and costume designer Arianne Phillips. Furthermore, athletes too began to speak up about the abuses they faced when in training. This was witnessed after more than 150 women and girls stated in court that Larry Nassar, former USA Gymnastics and Michigan State University doctor,  sexually abused them over the past two decades. He was sentenced to 40 – 175 years in prison on January 24th.

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While not everyone may agree with the feminist ideas, and the movements that come along with them, shown around the world today, one should try to understand and gain all of the facts before forming their own opinion. However, one cannot deny the impact that movements like these are making all across the globe. As stated by Ashley Judd at the 90th Academy Awards, “The changes we’re witnessing are being driven by the powerful sound of new voices, of different voices, of our voices joining together in a mighty chorus that is finally saying time’s up.”
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