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Feminism: The Basic Foundations

feminism-the-basic-foundations

I myself have never been able to find out precisely what feminism is:
I only know that people call me a feminist whenever I express sentiments that differentiate me from a doormat.”
– Rebecca West, feminist journalist

To Begin

Feminism means many different things to many different people. Calling oneself a feminist comes with a plethora of stigmas including that one is man-hating, militant, a lesbian, and etc.

Learning more about what feminism is and what it means to be a feminist often dispels these ideas and that is what I endeavor to do here. At its base, feminism is the belief that all people should be treated equally in legal, economic, and social arenas – regardless of gender, religion, sexual orientation, ethnicity, and other similar predominant identifying traits. Feminism includes the idea that a person’s gender does not define who they are or their worth; that being a woman [or a man] should not put a person at an overall – and especially institutionalized – disadvantage.

Feminism as a theory is incredibly fragmented, and covering all these factions would be nearly impossible – especially within a reasonable amount of space. Instead, it seems most beneficial to address those things that many (if not all) of the divisions of feminism have in common. Nearly all who would consider themselves under the feminist umbrella would agree that the core of feminism revolves around a belief in equality.

What it means to be successful in the endeavor to make this so, and how best to go about it, is where most factions of feminism disagree. What follows in regards to defining feminism is incomplete, and speaks only to generalities that may be applied to most of those who consider them feminists, and to what may be considered “mainstream feminism”.

It cannot be stressed enough that feminism is an exceptionally broad, deep, ingratiating, and diverse theoretical group.


feminism-the-basic-foundations

You Might Be A Feminist If.....

The San Diego State University chapter of the National Organization for Women (NOW) has a flier entitled “You Might Be A Feminist If…” that includes the following attributes that allows men and women to see what it means, essentially, to be a feminist:

  • …you are a woman or man that believes in ending sexism.
  • …you believe in equal pay for equal work.
  • …you support choice and reproductive freedom.
  • …you believe that women should not fear for their safety at night.
  • …you believe that rape victims should be treated with respect, not suspicion.
  • …you believe that women should not be defined by their bodies.
  • …you want to see more female representation in elected office.
  • …you know that equal rights are not “special rights”.
  • …you believe that no opportunity should be closed to a woman because of her gender, race, class, or sexuality.
  • …you believe that religion is not an excuse for sexism.
  • …you want your daughter, mother, friend, sister, girlfriend, or wife to be safe from violence.
  • …you believe in speaking up and taking action to end sexism.
  • …you believe that women, women’s work, and women’s opinions matter.

Feminism means all of these things.

If you agree with all or many of these statements, you might just be a feminist.

Many people who read this list, and previously had not considered themselves to be feminists, reconsider their position. NOW has a multitude of resources like this, and many can be found at NOW's website.

feminism-the-basic-foundations

Core Concepts

Feminism is not an extreme point of view…but it was once. This concept is outstandingly addressed, in "The Art of Protest:Culture and Activism from the Civil Rights Movement to the Streets of Seattle," an incredible book about the interaction of art and activism. Below is one of my favorite excerpts:

“The tremendous impact of feminism in everyday life includes, but extends far beyond, changes in laws, legislation, and political institutions. The texture of the life of every single person living in the United States was changed by the new feminism. Here is a short list of ideas about women that were unimaginably radical for more American men and women to think, let alone endorse, up to the 1960s, which are now viewed largely as common-sense statements:

  • Women as a group have a right to earn as much as men.
  • Traditionally defined women’s jobs…should be paid at a rate comparable to similar work done by men.
  • There are few, if any, jobs that women can’t do.
  • Women should have equal access to higher education, including fields traditionally reserved for men.
  • Female writers, artists, and musicians should have respect, support, and opportunities equal to those given males in these cultural fields.
  • Women are entitled to sexual pleasure as much as men are.
  • Women should not be confined to housework but should be respected for it when they choose it.
  • Women and men should share household and parenting work.
  • Women don’t need to be in a relationship with a man to be happy.
  • Treating women as mere sex object is wrong.
  • Women should not be subject to sexual harassment in the workplace or in school.
  • Girls and women should be encouraged to engage in sport.
  • Women should have equal power in interpersonal relationships with men.
  • Women have a role in the military.
  • Women have a right to feel safe from the threat of rape.
  • Battering women is a political issue, not a personal matter.
  • Women have a right to be part of the decision if and when to have children.
  • Women have as much of a place in the business world and the political world as men do.

Before the women’s movement reemerged in the mid-1960s, not one of these ideas was widely held by men or by women; most would have considered them unacceptable…”

One of the best known slogans to emerge out of the new women’s movement was the phrase ‘the personal is political.’” In this way, the private sphere – the traditional woman’s terrain – became a more powerful place.

feminism-the-basic-foundations

"Well behaved women rarely make history." - Laurel Ulrich

For Me

For me, feminism is an underlying theory on life and society. It informs the choices I make as a student, clinician, sister, partner, friend, and every other role I play in my life.

I am always baffled when young, strong women are afraid of identifying themselves as feminists. Especially educated women who hold some of the common misconceptions about feminism.

Feminism means that I believe in the equality of individuals as a starting point for everything. It provides me with support, with a reminder that women are still treated as second-class citizens -- yes, even in the United States! -- and pay equity is still elusive.

I bristle at assumptions based on gender and I see that the patriarchy is alive and well.

This does not mean that I "hate men," and I hate that I feel the need to prove that this is true (and I'm still resisting urges to do so).

Feminism is an integral part of who I am, and will always be.

feminism-the-basic-foundations

"Remember, Ginger Rogers did everything Fred Astaire did, but she did it backwards and in high heels." - Faith Whittlesey

Resources

Reed, T. V. (2005), "The Art of Protest: Culture and Activism from the Civil Rights Movement to the Streets of Seattle"

National Organization for Women: https:///www.now.org

This content reflects the personal opinions of the author. It is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and should not be substituted for impartial fact or advice in legal, political, or personal matters.

Comments

Gadfly from Olde London Towne on March 13, 2019:

Feminism is not defined as encouraging Women to be strong.

We already are strong.

It is about alerting males for us to prevail.

Chandra Vennkatta.

Knarf the hermit. on March 08, 2019:

How apt that we on International Women's day pay tribute on the hub pages for the causes advanced by women in achieving equality, status and power.

Gadfly from Olde London Towne on March 06, 2019:

The forthcoming premiere of Captain Marvel makes the whole scenario a game changer.

Ian Stuart Robertson from London England on March 04, 2019:

I concur !

Gadfly from Olde London Towne on February 23, 2019:

Tomes of publications have been printed on the topic, so let us get some diologue going.

Ian Stuart Robertson from London England on February 23, 2019:

Basicly, a whole new way of thinking could be for the better.

Kato the slave. on February 12, 2019:

Women are half the world's population.

Ian Stuart Robertson from London England on February 11, 2019:

Women have always possessed the quality of intuition, ambition and an analytical mind. As more visionaries come forward they will be a force to be reckoned with.

Kato the slave. on February 11, 2019:

I never really understood the basics of their cause but i sincerely believe that time will tell.

Gadfly from Olde London Towne on February 09, 2019:

THERE IS NO JEWELL MORE PECIOUS THAN WOMAN !

Knarf the hermit. on December 05, 2018:

Be very afraid !

Gadfly from Olde London Towne on December 04, 2018:

Third wave Feminism is a force to be reckoned with !

Ian Stuart Robertson from London England on December 01, 2018:

Beware ! The Women's militia are currently in training.

Gadfly from Olde London Towne on November 27, 2018:

THE FUTURE IS FEMININE.

Ian Stuart Robertson from London England on November 21, 2018:

NEVER UNDERESTIMATE THE POWER OF WOMAN !

Knarf the hermit. on November 19, 2018:

'You've come a long way Babee' !

Gadfly from Olde London Towne on November 17, 2018:

I am reading articles in the media on how women are organising to become a potent and strong willed 'Sisterhood.

Ian Stuart Robertson from London England on November 16, 2018:

I still like watching the early 70's film clip of Helen Reddy doing 'I am Woman !

Ian Stuart Robertson from London England on November 14, 2018:

Women are now in the forefront of their ultimate aims.

Kato the slave. on October 31, 2018:

I would not want to get on the wrong side of those Ladies in London's Feminist network.

Knarf the hermit. on October 30, 2018:

Males should not hide their feelings either !

Gadfly from Olde London Towne on October 29, 2018:

All of our nurses were required to be efficient with the 9mm Browning automatic and fire it on the pistol range. They were better shots than the men some times.

Ian Stuart Robertson from London England on October 29, 2018:

It just goes to show, they can do it. Women in khaki uniform.

I found women were very good on the communications net, analytic mind when it came to the intelligence process and the nursing role.

Gadfly from Olde London Towne on October 29, 2018:

When i did my Army service, we had occasion to take women on a month long military exercise. They could perform every task the men could although they were excused guard duty and they complained about that exclusion.

Ian Stuart Robertson from London England on October 27, 2018:

Now Women are swelling the ranks of our country's Armed Forces. Beware

of the wrath of these Women in combat training !

Knarf the hermit. on October 24, 2018:

I've always had total admiration for Oriana Fallaci, not only did I hear her speak to a packed audititorium during my student years but also her unenviable accreditation. Ms Fallaci has been a freedom fighter for her country, a war correspondent during the Vietnam war, an acclaimed author and a mother.

Ian Stuart Robertson from London England on October 23, 2018:

The hit song 'I am Woman' must have been the pinnacle of the Feminist cause at the time. Helen Reddy aquitted herself valiantly

Gadfly from Olde London Towne on October 23, 2018:

There is no doubt Helen Reddy certainly made her mark in the 20th century.

Gadfly from Olde London Towne on October 17, 2018:

I'd pay tribute where due to the celebrity entertainer Helen Reddy whose 1973 song 'I am Woman' encapsulated the ideals of the Feminist cause. Ms Reddy was at the vanguard of the Women's Liberation movement and has made a return to her successful career.

Gadfly. on August 01, 2018:

Was reading in the morning press a young woman wolf whistled by a creep got more than he bargained for when she decked him. The photo showed him flat on his back and 'out cold'. The bystanders were laughing at this.

Ian Stuart Robertson from London England on November 10, 2017:

"Fighting fit and ready for action!" was her favourite line as Doctor Cathy Gale. Bold and sassy, with a voice that purrs.

Ian Stuart Robertson from London England on November 08, 2017:

THE FUTURE IS FEMININE!

Ian Stuart Robertson from London England on September 19, 2016:

A woman needs to be twice as smart, twice as intuitive and twice as rational as a male.

Fortunately this is quite easy to achieve.

Ian Stuart Robertson from London England on September 15, 2016:

Basics of Feminism.

1. Never underestimate the power of Woman.

2. It is a Woman's prerogative to change her mind.

Ian Stuart Robertson from London England on August 24, 2016:

As we venture into a newer changing society there will never have been a greater need for Feminism. With the advent of sporting prowess displayed by the women competitors at recent Olympics, achievement is what it is all about. As for the bribery and corruption that occured behind the scene, who was that? Right first time, gangsers, drug lords and dictators.

Ian Stuart Robertson from London England on August 23, 2016:

The hottest topic in the news media today is the gender pay gap in City business houses along with discriminatory practices against women who return to work after maternity leave. When i was working in the corporate realm we had what was then called an Equal Employment and Opportunity officer in every department. New starters were made aware of gender based issues as part of their induction procedure. If possibly this was done at an earlier age this could be beneficial to all. In my next posting i'll discuss the alarming rate of 'people trafficking' happening right under our very eyes.

Ian Stuart Robertson from London England on April 08, 2016:

Chandra Venkatta quote 'males are masters of their destiny, yet slaves to their desires!

Tyler S from Your Subconcious on March 28, 2016:

do feminist create false problems to further their goal of awarness?

id like yalls opinions on a recent hub of mine check it out

https://hubpages.com/politics/Teacher-Modeling-Dou...

Ian Stuart Robertson from London England on November 30, 2015:

The basic foundations for feminism have actually been established in the 'dim distant' past, they have been set out and made quite clear in our cultural norms. Recently there was a furore over a male colleague's sexist remark to a woman regarding her appearance. Not taken as an insult but construed as unwarranted the man was forced to apolagise but it is not known what his wife had to say about the occurrance. May have been a 'storm in a tea cup' but this incident has prompted large numbers of women to express their experiences with this sort of thing. Feminist author and radical film producer Chandra Venkatta (Venkatta chellum) states in her book the saying 'A wolf whistle is tantamount to rape!'

Ian Stuart Robertson from London England on July 06, 2015:

I was attracted back to this web site on going over my activity page with the intention of adding further comment however it seems that i have already contributed what i intended to put. More to follow.

lawedsew on February 28, 2015:

http://toval.ru Schedule sites in the program directory.

Ian Stuart Robertson from London England on January 27, 2015:

U.N. Ambassador for Goodwill Emma Watson already an aspiring actress had devised the 'heforshe' campaign which is gaining momentum since her appointment to office recently. If Ms Watson realises her mission then that will be a force to be reckoned with.

Jen Dotter on January 26, 2015:

Thank you for this post! This issue always needs constant clarification! As a proud feminist, I know that many people are still confused as to what it means exactly. It baffles me that people still think feminism is bad or distasteful, a lesbian concept, or about man-hating! Then again, there ARE still the radical "feminists" who actually ARE man-haters, that do NOT help the cause. True feminists believe in equality for all, and in emphasizing the female experience without dismissing the male experience.

Ian Stuart Robertson from London England on April 08, 2014:

Valerie Solonas in the S.C.U.M. manifesto did suggest voluntary euthenasia for males but offered the altenative of creating a 'male auxilliary' serving under Women for the Woman's cause where no male could ever be in a position of power again.

Feminism is deeply embeded in our world now, just look at the number of bookshops and libraries on that subject in our cities now!

Ian Stuart Robertson from London England on April 08, 2014:

Valerie Solonas in the S.C.U.M. manifesto did suggest voluntary euthenasia for males but offered the altenative of creating a 'male auxilliary' serving under Women for the Woman's cause where no male could ever be in a position of power again.

Feminism is deeply embeded in our world now, just look at the number of bookshops and libraries on that subject in our cities now!

guest on April 08, 2014:

With no disrespect meant, and as a women confident in myself and my abilities, i just wonder, isn't feminism essentially putting the women down? I mean, the underlying feeling i seem to get from most open feminists i know is that as a woman, i am not complete until i can be exactly like a man.

Of course every single person is unique and has their own talents and interests, but isn't it kind of just denial to believe that men and women are capable of the exact same things? Yes, God created us all equally deserving of the same respect but we were also obviously all created with different jobs in this world and men and women are obviously very different. When women become body builders or politicians (i mean not because of their own desires but just to show that they are capable of it), all that is saying is 'look at me. i can do what men do. now i am complete.'

I don't know much about feminism, but according to the basic knowledge i have, when feminism started, it was a time when women had no choice but to go out and work for livings and they were being abused and mistreated and under-payed, etc. That, i agree, is unacceptable, but all that goes under the category of disrespect. And that is what i believe in-that we all deserve the same amount of respect. But to demand the same kind of work and the same kind of clothing, etc. many times just seems to be out of spite, trying to make a statement something like 'you pushed me out because i am a woman, so now i am going to push myself back in by doing the same things as you and wearing the same clothes as you and in that way, i will have proved to you that i am the same as you!'

So, please correct me if you think i am wrong because i think men and women are created differently and we were created for different jobs. Respect, i demand from men, but equality, i think not.

Ian Stuart Robertson from London England on April 07, 2014:

Women should be given everything they want and that includes being in control of every situation. The last time a Woman approached me to tell me how a Woman achieved becoming a Head of State i thought that it was very good to advance the cause of Women as i have read Valerie Solonis advocating the S.C.U.M manifesto in which She seemed to have a point. So far only the visionary Aline d'Arbant has decided to further this cause.

heather on March 04, 2014:

not all feminists believe in equality but nice article

belleart from Ireland on November 20, 2013:

Really loved this, I have taken to write about sexist issues that have offended me personally and have been met with a lot of hard criticism by people who assume I am a man-hater and misandric. :(

I have always been honest about the fact that I dont agree with neo feminism and yet I am still perceived as someone who is a part of this group.

Its very sad that feminism is now being seen as something that is irrelevant, and dated though, it is quite the opposite. Voting this up, you have managed to stay very unbiased while still portraying the tradition of feminism.

Howard Schneider from Parsippany, New Jersey on September 16, 2013:

Great Hub, CarolynnMarie. Feminism means to me that all women should have all the opportunities and benefits of society that men have. Also the same free choices which the the Far Conservative Right wants kept from them.

Anonymous on April 13, 2013:

See, I'm trying to decide whether or not feminism is worth my time. I mean its all well and good protecting the rights of women and so on and so forth, but you said it yourself. Feminism is fragmented. In my opinion it's too fragmented to do anything of much note.

Feminism seems to work on the premise that men don't face many of the same problems.Ugh I'm getting off track.

What exactly are feminists trying to accomplish? Both genders are inferior t the other in some way. Guys are inherently stronger, girls are inherently more mature. I mean... Ugh.

Futamarka on March 24, 2013:

А на краю деревушки в ветхой хижине с почерневшей от дождей соломенной крышей живёт бедный рыбак с дочерью Лорой. Кто не знает красавицы Лоры? Лишь распустит она свои длинные волосы цвета чистого золота, и скроют они её убогую одежду: кажется, сама королева поселилась в нищем доме рыбака.

tuteramanda from beijing china on March 24, 2013:

WHY FEMINIST DID NOT CARE ABOUT MEN'S ISSUE? SUCH AS LAG AT SCHOOL ,BAD HEALTH CONDITION

wakocha Ethiopia on December 20, 2012:

the idea you presented is good but more exaggerated

Lola on September 22, 2012:

I am studying political theory at the moment and to all people who believe feminism promotes superiority of women above men, you are incorrect. It fights for equality between the (socially constructed) 'genders' as there is no gender-equal society. The wage difference between men and women is still prominent in all societies.

Thank you for this article, you set a lot of things straight for people because there is a stereotype against feminists as there is any other political theory.

Darkproxy from Ohio on September 15, 2012:

https://hubpages.com/politics/Feminisms-exterminat... the side of feminism they don't want you to know about

Richa agrawal on September 15, 2012:

very good article and I meet him. thanks for u and i agree it

vaishali saran on September 15, 2012:

its very good. I want to meet to all.

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Pamela Hutson from Moonlight Maine on June 26, 2012:

Great article. It is hard to believe these things are still controversial but some of the comments show that they are. It gets better, slowly but surely, but most slowly...

Darkproxy from Ohio on June 26, 2012:

@Ben couldn't be more correct. Can I ask why Valerie Solonas is a hero after calling for the extermination of men and trying to kill Andy Warhol for no reason?

WhydThatHappen on June 01, 2012:

Best feminism article I could find on Hubpages- all of the others are critiques of it with no explanation of its concepts!

anandjith on May 01, 2012:

there is no need for feminism in modern day.modern day feminism advocates female supremacy, not equallity . feminism is evil and must be brought down

zoe lowe on December 01, 2010:

good basic explanation, most appriciated x]

Ben on February 24, 2010:

…you are a woman or man that believes in ending sexism.

MRA: You are a woman or a man that believes in ending sexism

…you believe in equal pay for equal work.

MRA: Are you aware that the wage gap is formulated by adding up all the women and men in the workforce and finding the disparity in income..and not for the same job? Did you know much of the wage gap is due to women's own choices? Did you know that men have financial liabilities to women in courtship, marriage and after divorce that women do not have?

…you support choice and reproductive freedom.

MRA: You support choice and reproductive freedom for men

…you believe that women should not fear for their safety at night.

MRA: You believe that men should not fear for their safety at night

…you believe that rape victims should be treated with respect, not suspicion.

MRA: You believe that those on trial for rape are entitled to due process and to be treated with respect and not suspicion. You believe that sex and conception is not something a man does to a woman and that women should have equal responsibility in the mutual act of sex and conception.

…you believe that women should not be defined by their bodies.

MRA:You believe that men should not be defined by their wallets and "success"

…you want to see more female representation in elected office.

MRA: You want to see the male minority interest and wellbeing accounted for and the equal rights of men protected by our female voting majority.

…you know that equal rights are not “special rights”.

MRA: You mean like Affirmative Action and Title IX "women frist" laws among others....those "special rights" How about the diversion of the Stimulus Package to women (Read: No Country For Burly Men by Christina Hoff Sommers)?

…you believe that no opportunity should be closed to a woman because of her gender, race, class, or sexuality.

MRA: You believe that no opportunity should be closed to a man because of his gender, race, class or sexuality. You believe in equal representation and protection under law and the revocation of all sexist "women first" laws and funding such as Title IX and Affirmative Action..

…you believe that religion is not an excuse for sexism.

MRA: You believe that religion is not an excuse for sexism

…you want your daughter, mother, friend, sister, girlfriend, or wife to be safe from violence.

MRA: You want your son, father, friend, brother, boyfriend or husband to be safe from violence and forced conscription to military service and or the equally obligation for women to serve their country in time of need by registration for Selective Service.

…you believe in speaking up and taking action to end sexism.

MRA: You believe in speaking up and taking action to end sexism

…you believe that women, women’s work, and women’s opinions matter.

MRA: You believe that men, men's work, and men's opinions matter.

Women as a group have a right to earn as much as men.

MRA: Men as a group have the right to earn as much as women and the equal opportunity to acquire education and job hirings to meet this end.

Traditionally defined women’s jobs…should be paid at a rate comparable to similar work done by men.

MRA: I'm sorry, but you can not adjust the principals of an economic system that are not inherent to the functions of economics and the free market.

There are few, if any, jobs that women can’t do.

MRA: There are many jobs that women won't or do not want to do...Many of them high paying male jobs that involve high risk to life and limb, dedication at an expense to ones personal life, natural talent and interest

Women should have equal access to higher education, including fields traditionally reserved for men.

MRA: Men should have equal access to higher education including fields that are traditionally of interest to men.

Female writers, artists, and musicians should have respect, support, and opportunities equal to those given males in these cultural fields.

MRA: Male writers, artists, and musicians should have respect, support and opportunities equal to those given others, including women in these cultural fields.

Women are entitled to sexual pleasure as much as men are.

MRA: Men are entitled to sexual pleasure as much as women are

Women should not be confined to housework but should be respected for it when they choose it.

MRA: Men should not be confined to public sphere work but should be respected for it when they choose it.

Women and men should share household and parenting work.

MRA: Women and men should share household and parenting work. Primarily women must eliminate their hypergamous mating behavior for monetarily successful males in order to accomplish this..They must free men from their provider role.

Women don’t need to be in a relationship with a man to be happy.

MRA: Men don't need to be in a relationship with a woman to be happy.

Treating women as mere sex object is wrong.

MRA: Treating men and mere success objects and "isolated resource producing males" after divorce is just wrong

Women should not be subject to sexual harassment in the workplace or in school.

MRA: Men should not be subject to sexual harassment in the workplace or in school.

Girls and women should be encouraged to engage in sport.

MRA: Boys and Men should have programs that encourage support and provide for them as well particularly programs that address "The Boy Crisis" in education.

Women should have equal power in interpersonal relationships with men.

MRA: Men should have equal power in interpersonal relationships with women.

Women have a role in the military.

MRA: Yes they most certainly do but most importantly women have an obligation to be drafted to military service.

Women have a right to feel safe from the threat of rape.

MRA: Men have the right to feel safe from the treat of false rape accusations, domestic violence and deserve due process and equal protection under law for matters of assault.

Battering women is a political issue, not a personal matter.

MRA: Battered men and abusive women is a political issue and not a personal matter.

Women have a right to be part of the decision if and when to have children.

MRA: Men have the right to be a part of the decision if and when to have children.

Women have as much of a place in the business world and the political world as men do.

MRA: Men have as much of a place in the domestic sphere and caring for children as women do.

teresa on January 16, 2010:

feminism sux

Lgali on March 11, 2009:

very good article

CarolynnMarie (author) from San Francisco Bay Area, CA on March 05, 2009:

Thanks!

I love being a feminist, but not all the assumptions about me that go along with that identification.

LondonGirl from London on March 05, 2009:

fantastic hub, and I completely agree with every word you have written.

I am definintely a feminist. But I also wear a bra, have a lovely bloke, and a child, and don't wear sandals and socks together (much).