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The word feminism goes beyond just one definition, with over five, the most common definition is formed from a combination of the others; therefore, the broad definition of feminism is that it involves an individual or group of people that participate in political movements, ideologies and social movements with the common goal to gain equality/equity for women in society (Feminism, 2014). In this paper, the main points being made will discuss the connection I have with feminism and what I’ve discovered, as well as an explanation of a specific type of feminism that is expressed proudly by a notable feminist that shares the same ideas as that type. Feminism has many levels and can mean something different to every individual, this is where new types are born and explored.
Feminism has many sides to it, meaning that it can have different definitions to different people depending on their beliefs/ideologies. Having the flexibility to choose what feminist form fits into one’s personal preference makes it unique in the way it still brings individuals together to help fight for their place in society as equals regardless of gender (Feminism, 2018). As an ideology or theory its fairly straightforward, feminism is a set of ideologies or a type of movement that is created on a common goal to create equality between genders whether that be the right to vote, hold public office, work, or to earn fair wages; feminism identifies there is a problem in societal norms and change needs to be made in order to accommodate to the changing world (Feminism, 2018). Intersectional feminism accounts for groups of people that have multi-layered facets in life they must deal with. This type of feminism doesn’t discriminate against those who have other hardships to deal with whereas radical feminism can discriminate many things, especially men. Feminism has come a long way from wave one to four, with the growth of our existence it has become a movement that more people want to be a part of to gain the respect and ideal of where they should be in society.
Personally, I’ve discovered that the ideology/theory of feminism isn’t new and dates back many years, as far back as 1872 (feminism, 2018). The date of which feminism was first coined came as a surprise to me as I only heard about the term “feminism” in high school. From my previous education woman’s struggles were just that, woman’s struggles, nothing more and nothing less. Although when I became aware of the term my perception of feminism became tainted because of a little thing called ‘radical feminism’. The popularity of radical feminism on social media made it easy for me to disassociate myself as a feminist because of how extreme the movements were for radical feminists. It wasn’t until the Woman in Justice course that I discovered that there is more than just one type of feminism ideology/theory that now I believe I can say I am a feminist. My personally created definition of feminism is a movement born out of woman’s struggles that generates awareness about the inequality faced by women and other individuals in society that are being marginalized due to their gender, sexuality or race.
Feminism in criminal justice is important to me because it is the career I will be pursuing and treatment within in the workplace will be a part of that career path. In the sector of policing, feminism has made an impact in allowing women to be part of the force, although this was a breakthrough it still has its issues. There is still hegemonic masculinity within the workplace environment and there will be judgment from both gender of colleagues when starting on the force. Woman in a male-dominated field is a challenge because woman need to gain acceptance whereas men have immediate acceptance (Module 2, 2020). It’s important for women in highly male-dominated workforces to know their triggers and also when to speak up, times are changing but so are we.
Feminist theory has criticisms to it like any other feminist forms but has always been about “viewing the social world in a way that illuminates the forces that create and support inequality, oppression, and injustice, and in doing so, promotes the pursuit of equality and justice” (Crossman, 2019). Women are seen as different from or unequal to men, but they are also actively oppressed, and subordinated by men. This allows for men to place women in society as invaluable or incompetent, this type of reinforcement is why feminism is needed. The feminism that has impacted my life the most has been second-wave feminism which focuses on women choosing to battle obstacles by “inverting sexist, racist, and classist symbols, fighting patriarchy with irony, answering violence with stories of survival, and combating continued exclusion with grassroots activism and radical democracy (Burnell et all, 2019).”
With the most notable feminist of my time being Emma Watson there are a multitude of women before her that fought for feminism just as hard but didn’t get the recognition for their forward thinking. There are many individuals that have created and substantially changed feminism into what it is today, the person I believe to have had a tremendous step into societal changes is Machelle Obama. Obama was and still is a role model for the citizens of America especially those that are African American, Obama is an image for those girls that are from the poorer end of town, they still have the potential to do and be anything (Harrington, 2018). Obama’s impact on the people of the United States was recognized when Michelle Obama’s approval ratings remained strong and even increased since she left the White House (Harrington, 2018). Obama became First Lady by force which led her to create an identity for herself other than the title handed to her. Through dedication and determination, she got into Harvard and Princeton which aided her to have a highly successful career without the pressures of external forces (Harrington, 2018). Having Obama as a feminist was a revolutionary step towards equality because she was able to influence change by using her title positively to gain the trust and confidence for people to follow in the movement.
Obama’s form of feminism as defined by the things she has stated is more of a third-wave feminist perspective. Obama stated, ‘That’s what happens with change. Change is not a direct, smooth path. There are going to be bumps and resistance. There’s been a status quo in terms of the way women have been treated, what their expectations have been in this society, and that is changing” (Chuck, 2018). Themes explored in this feminist theory include discrimination, stereotyping, and objectification which Obama isn’t afraid to speak on behalf of. She mentions that African Americans are just as capable as anyone else especially if they are female (Harrington, 2018). The points stated above about Obama are what make her the perfect candidate of feminism in my perspective because she was able to accomplish this.
Feminism means something different to everyone regardless of gender, age, race. The feminist movement was a very important moment in history that was made out of woman’s struggles to gain a proper place in society. The world is constantly changing and being able to have a movement that changes with the times to create an environment where everyone is included is important for the inclusion of everyone in society. I have made a tremendous amount of discoveries about feminism in such a short period of time, although I feel more prepared in what to expect when I join a police agency. Overall, feminism has impacted society in many positive ways in which I am no longer afraid to be apart of.
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