International Women's Day 2013: Why We're Still Fighting
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Let’s talk women for a minute, if we may. It’s International Women’s Day after all, and with No More Page 3, The Everyday Sexism Project and various other social media campaigns gaining increasingly mainstream attention over the last few months, this one could be the most important for a few years. Firstly, let’s define feminism, in a quick internet way because I have limited time to spend getting philosophical. The Oxford English Dictionary describes it as “the advocacy of women’s rights on the ground of the equality of the sexes” whilst Dictionary.com believes it be “the doctrine advocating social, political, and all other rights of women equal to those of men.” Wikipedia calls it “a collection of movements and ideologies aimed at defining, establishing, and defending equal political, economic, and social rights for women.” My favourite internet definition, somewhat surprisingly, comes from that hallowed tome, the Urban Dictionary: “Feminism: The belief that women are and should be treated as potential intellectual equals and social equals to men. These people can be either male or female human beings, although the ideology is commonly (and perhaps falsely) associated mainly with women.” It then goes on to succinctly point out how the rights of women throughout history have been intertwined with discrimination based on ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation, culture and lifestyle, and finishes by pointing out that “you should still hold the door for a feminist; this is known as respect or politeness and need have nothing whatever to do with gender discrimination.” YES, Urban Dictionary! Somehow, despite being a site most commonly visited via Google when we have no idea what rappers are talking about, you have summed up a much discussed and hugely complex issue in three paragraphs. Some of those in the public sphere (Katy Perry, Yahoo! CEO Marissa Mayer, Lady Gaga) have said that they don’t identify themselves as feminists, although presumably they do believe in being able to work, make their own money, walk down the street, drive their cars, have sex, choose who they want to marry, vote, etc, without being stoned to death, which presents a conundrum. There has been a lot of talk in recent weeks about the word itself, and what it has come to mean in the 21st Century, post bra burning and women’s suffrage and the introduction of the pill - a world where on paper it looks like progress has been made, but where, when we look wider than our often very limited sphere, we see that things are far, far from good. At all.
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