It depends on whom you ask.
The notion of feminism was not something crafted in the 60s, as many of us think. It's a lot older than that. You might say Cleopatra was a feminist and so too other later icons like Christine de Pizan and Lucretia Mott.
Feminists like Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B Anthony took up the cause in the 19th century leading to the likes of Simone de Beauvoir and on to our modern versions like like Betty Friedan, Gloria Steinem and Judith Butler.
The Merriam Webster dictionary defines feminism as
1. the theory of the political, economic, and social equality of the sexes
2 : organized activity on behalf of women's rights and interests
But ask any woman on the street, and they'll probably tell you something different. To some, it means an almost separation of the sexes - with marriage considered slavery and societal "norms" in terms of expectations, to be chains we need to break.
Others look on feminism as a personal mindset. Many feminists are firmly against porn, deeming it to be nothing more than a degradation of women and an affront to their dignity.
But there is a growing movement of what's known as "sex-positive feminism" that not only defends porn but advocates it, and creates it. Feminists like Tristan Taormino and Gayle Rubin are some of it's staunchest defenders.
One thing is for sure - all feminists want, at least, equality of the sexes in all aspects of life - work/pay, healthcare, sex, law, family, society.
But as in all movements - infighting and disagreements as to what feminism really is are a common occurrence.
Some women reject the term completely - seeing it as negative, man-hating and forcing all women to think alike. Women who stay at home with their children do not like other women telling them that it's wrong to stay home (and that they should be pursuing their careers instead) and women who look to their husbands as "head of the household'" (many for religious or cultural reasons) see feminism as undermining their beliefs.
Many women have a very black and white version of what feminism is - and isn't.
But what is feminism to a lot of us? It's akin to asking what being American is, or French, or Chinese. Or gay or straight, or what is art or what constitutes "culture".
The answer, for most, will always be in the eye of the beholder.
What do the terms "feminist" and "feminism" mean to you? Do you consider yourself one?
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