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Women and gender studies- The Impact of Feminism
Gender roles discrimination might be considered non-existent by many in the modern society, and that equality has finally been achieved. However, gender roles still play a huge role in extending inequalities. Women have gone through many issues, obstacles and barriers to becoming important members of society. Previously, women had no rights, they were mistreated, neglected and isolated in the hands of men. However, with the establishment of feminism, the image and the profile of women has greatly changed; from being a society’s puppet to becoming queens, presidents, artists, teachers, etc.
Women have been able to change their position in the society from being daughters, wives, and mothers but rather as normal citizens with regular rights and duties. Several groups, more so the feminist movement, have been on the forefront to change the features of the prompting gender roles which they believe are very oppressive and inaccurate. The feminist theories inspire essential works across humanities, social and natural sciences which seek to disrupt the gender imbalance which exists in the society. This paper discusses the effect of femininity on women and sexuality, the events which have paved way towards gender equality and the current issue which plague women.
Women and gender studies contribute significantly to the understanding of the social and cultural world people inhabit. After a long-suffering and discrimination of women while searching for a recognized place in the society, women are nowadays playing key roles such as politicians, socialists, and economists in the society (Ghorfati & Medini, 2015), thanks to the emergence of feminism which advocated for women rights.
Traditionally, women have always been defined in relation to men. Men have always been viewed as strong, while women are perceived as weak. In addition, men are perceived as superior while women are viewed as their subordinates. This has been exemplified by the fact that masculine traits like non-emotional, strong and competitive are considered socially desirable traits while feminine traits like passive, emotional and docile are not. Therefore, it is very evident that people live in a society that is not just sexist, but undoubtedly discriminatory. For instance, the weight on the female beauty and sexuality demonstrates that the advancement toward gender equality is quite uneven. In the arguments of Ghorfati and Medini (2015), there is a massive increase in the sex-related portrayal of women.
Biologically, gender refers to male and female, however, there are characteristics and behaviours which are not linked to biology but rather they emanate from culture-determined perceptions, and the treatment according to one’s sex. Gendered behaviours include movement, activities, thoughts, and feelings as well as speech. Such norms vary according to the place, time and culture. According to (Saewyc (2017), gender roles have become more pronounced and the difference between men and women’s behaviour, attitudes and opportunities are socially depended on femininity and masculinity. Feminism argues that these cultural believes in the contemporary world benefit men and disadvantage women (Mikkola, 2008). As a result, they strive towards reversing the disadvantaged women roles in the community, eliminate the discrimination against women and dismantling the male dominance in the society.
Gender is part of people’s identity as it influences what they think about themselves and relationships with other people. Being born a male or female does not depict masculinity or femininity, rather such ideologies are socially constructed. Gender roles have persisted for long in many aspects, starting from delivery where a baby is swaddled in either pink or blue depending on its sex. These gender roles are obvious, that women are the principal child givers. There are institutions and social expectations which support women and not men in taking care of the children. Men have considered women’s career as a conflict source arguing that working women will neglect their family attributions and risk to deteriorate the marital relation (Mikkola, 2008). However, women try to make new rules and new inventions to change society’s ancient ideas and thoughts.
Women are still struggling every moment to have their rights. Luckily, feminism has initiated on-going debates all over the world to solve women problems and end the injustices against women. Despite the hard inequality and the painful segregation by cultures, women have been able to stand up every time to express their feelings, issues and desires. In addition, feminism has spread worldwide making it a sign of unity, to make everybody believe that both men and women deserve equality in terms of opportunities, treatment and social rights (Saewyc, 2017). Feminism is concerned with female gender as a social classification and they share the views that oppression against women is linked to their sexuality. This is because female and males biological dissimilarities reflect the social culture, and based on the variations, women are perceived as inferior beings. Therefore, feminism focuses on the women’s experiences as well as highlighting the several types of oppression that the society has subjected the female gender into.
Feminism has played a key role in women transformation. This is because it specifically focuses on women’s experience in their daily lives, which they are subjected to in the community. Since feminists can feel and experience the pain women go through, they are wholly convinced of what it means being a woman in a Patriarchal society. Therefore, O’Connor (2010) argues that feminists seek to remove every barrier to equal social, political, and economic opportunity for a woman. They also challenge the belief that a woman’s worth is solely influenced by her gender.
For instance, liberal feminism is concerned with attaining equality between men and women. It emphasizes on the power of individuals in altering the prejudiced practices against the girl child. Liberal feminisms roots stretch way back to the social contract theory of government established by the American Revolution. Liberal feminism has helped women to use their abilities on the democratic processes to help them be equal in the eyes of society and law (Mikkola, 2008). This has been achieved by organizing women into larger groups which speak at higher levels, push for legislation, advocate for change and raise awareness on their burning issues.
In fact, liberal feminism has seen numerous waves of change which have significantly contributed to its development and power throughout history. By the 1960s, there was a certain resurgence energy which followed the civil rights movement in the U.S. This led to the Famous March on Washington which moved the liberal feminist ideas to another level. The spirit and the importance of their ideas were adopted since it raised consciousness which helped women to stay conscious of the need of improving their conditions.
The key agenda of liberal feminism is to make sure each individual woman is capable of defining her social role in the society with as substantial liberty as men. This involves scrapping the historic hierarchy of patriarchal laws which deny women their civil liberties. Mikkola, (2008), further argues that the major emphasis of liberal feminism is the equality before the law, property rights, education, and change in marriage laws, and equal pay for equal work, protection from domestic violence and rape and deliverance from any oppression. In short, it has brought equality between men and women in the platform of the existing social systems.
The radical feminism believes that sexism is deeply rooted in societies, and the only way to achieve gender equality is by eliminating the concept of gender. It views patriarchy as a system which puts the society in complex relationships based on male assertion and supremacy which discriminates women. Therefore, feminism challenges and overthrows patriarchy by opposing standardized gender roles and women oppression. The radical feminism argue that the main cause of women oppression is biological believe that women liberation calls for a biological revolution. They, therefore, call for separatism and women independence from men.
According to social feminism, gender inequalities are intrinsic to capitalist systems which give few opportunities and resources to women. Therefore, social feminists have tried eliminating the capitalist systems and replacing them with socialism which involves a collective sharing of wealth and responsibilities. They have successfully advocated for equal salary for equal tasks with men. For instance, the first wave of feminism influenced and inspired movements worldwide which allowed women to vote. Women have many times been stereotyped as domestic works, and they are remunerated less for their work. Gender masculinity is evident all over, from casual labourers to feminized spaces in government factories. However, such gender roles and relations have gradually changed.
Ghorfati and Medini, (2015) claim that Feminism’s act of establishing a woman identity has influenced women all over the world to have the right to be better and built interest in things like poetry, literature, and religion. After a long time of neglected dreams and lost identity, women in many places of the world have deleted their stereotypical image and become important leaders in many of their domains.
Through feminism, women can now fight against mental health stigma and educate other women on birth control and safe sex practices. Furthermore, the difference in payments is facilitated by gender segregation of occupation were women are being discriminated. Also, the women are poorly paid because there are gender stereotypes on women taking certain responsibilities. In addition, there is women under-representation in big organizations. Nevertheless, feminism has come a long way, and recently, it has significantly changed these perceptions and more women are fairly paid now (Suter & Toller, 2006).
In the past, women lived unequal and unfair life. They were prohibited from participating in political, social and economic activities. Instead, they were perceived as housewives and child bearers while men dominated in all fields. Following all these discriminations and gender stereotypes, women in the whole world began seeking ways to improve themselves and change their positions in the society (Ferguson, Hennessy & Nagel, 2004). They joined endeavours, dreams and desires to build a universal objective to speak on behalf of all women, this gave rise to feminism. Through feminism, women have been able to take back their rights and change their negative images. Feminism has proved that women have the capability of participating in important posts, just like men. Furthermore, the main goal of feminism is ensuring women have full freedom and equal opportunities in political and social events.
Fighting for the protection of women’s bodies against forced abortions, rape, domestic violence, female genital mutilation, unwanted pregnancies, injections and murder has been a challenging and a recurring struggle. Also, the sexual integrity of girls and women calls for protection against exploitative sex, forced prostitution, and forced marriages (Saewyc, 2017). Hence, feminism has a huge task ahead.
All in all, feminism as a whole has been drastically successful, and has had a positive impact on the society as it has transformed women’s expectations and the perspectives of their life in society. Women can now work more independently and earn their living. It has also changed what men should expect from women and how men should behave towards women. None of the social movements has so expeditiously revolutionized such profoundly held forms of behaviours in the society like Feminism.
- Ferguson, A., Hennessy, R., & Nagel, M. (2004). Feminist perspectives on class and work.
- Ghorfati, a., & Medini, R. (2015). Feminism and its Impact On woman in the Modern Society (Doctoral dissertation).
- Mikkola, M. (2008). Feminist perspectives on sex and gender.
- O’Connor, K. (2010). Gender and women’s leadership: A reference handbook. Thousand Oaks, California: SAGE Reference.
- Rudy, R. M., Popova, L., & Linz, D. G. (2010). The context of current content analysis of gender roles: An introduction to a special issue.
- Saewyc, E. (2017). A global perspective on gender roles and identity. Journal of Adolescent Health, 61(4), S1-S2.
- Suter, E. A., & Toller, P. W. (2006). Gender role and feminism revisited: A follow-up study. Sex Roles, 55(1-2), 135-146.
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