Students and teachers share their thoughts on the feminism movement

Julia Day, Reporter

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The movement of feminism in the United States has become one of the biggest social movements in the world. Feminism, as defined by Merriam-Webster, is the theory of the political, economic, and social equality of the sexes. Even with this definition as the basis of the movement, there has been increasing controversy over how radical the movement has gone. Many people now see feminism as being “anti-men” and seeing women as superior. This has led to a decrease in the supporters of the movement and some, even though they believe in equality, do not consider themselves feminists. Students and teachers were asked to share their opinions and perspectives on feminism in the United States today. 

First, how do you define feminism? Overall, the respondents shared similar basic definitions of feminism as seen above. Sara Siebenhaar (12) said, “Feminism is the equality of all genders together.” Joe Tyson (10) explained, “I would say that it’s the theory and advocating for the belief that women are equal to men.” Also adding her thoughts, Mallory Brown (9) explained, “A strong belief that women should be equal to men.” Each student or teacher interviewed all had some definition that had the basis of the ones described above.

In contrast, many had differing views and opinions on the movement itself and whether they defined themselves as a feminist. Hayden Morgan (12) said he was not a feminist, “I feel like a lot of feminists get the wrong idea of what feminism should really be about. I think a lot of things that are said, I don’t agree with.” Darrah Young (11) said she was a feminist, “I think all people should be treated equally and given equal opportunities.” Mrs. Brewster, an English teacher, also agreed, “As the mother of three daughters and having been raised around very strong women who could do anything and everything they set their mind to, I feel like women are often short-changed and disrespected based on maybe some of our core values.” 

Others categorized themselves as feminists based on the traditional definition, but don’t agree with the modern day radical twist on the movement. Emma Largen (10) said, “I don’t necessarily see myself as a feminist. The way society has destroyed the true meaning of a feminist, it kind of pushes me away from that term. Plus, I don’t really pay attention to the movements or anything related to it. But I do definitely believe in equality across the two genders.”

In the past century, the feminist movement has changed and grown, taking a different path and meaning as women have gained basic rights and become more independent. People were asked to share their thoughts on how the movement today differs from a more traditional view of the movement itself. Sara Siebenhaar (12) said, “Traditional feminism was more for establishing a place in society for women altogether, like voting rights. Whereas modern day feminism is more about diminishing gender roles established on both men and women.” Christian Yates (11) agreed, “ I think feminism now pushes for more equal pay and social acceptance. Whereas with what I would call traditional feminism, women were fighting for equal rights and responsibilities.”

Mrs. Cook, one of the school counselors explained how she thought that today we are fighting a different cause. “It’s not an explicit fight, it’s more of an implicit fight. Yes, on paper we have the same rights, but do we have the same rights?” 

In the same way that traditional feminism differs from modern day feminism, feminism in other countries differs from feminism in the U.S. How does it differ? Is feminism in the U.S. needed as much as it is in other countries? Students and teachers expanded their thoughts on this. Joe Tyson (10) said, “The difference is that in the US, there isn’t a serious need for reform in this particular area, it’s already occurred. Oppositely, in other parts of the world, especially in Islamic nations, women are still being withheld basic rights and are subject to discrimination.” Darrah Young (11) added, “Our feminist movement definitely has more participation, as well as success, than those in other countries. As long as there are men and women I believe we will still need feminism.” 

Lastly, what are some of the main issues facing women today? Sara Siebenhaar (12) said that sexual harassment in the workplace and the misconception that women cannot be brave without being mean are two top issue. Mrs. Cook shared an example of an issue from her own life. She explained, “One issue that affects me personally is that a lot of countries give women paid leave from work when they have a child. I didn’t receive any paid leave. I had to take my sick days and then after I went without pay. I think we’re really behind with that. It’s almost like you are punished for having a child.”

Overall, even though the movement of feminism has changed over the years, the basic definition stays. In the U.S. and other countries, women are still fighting for equal rights and feminism is needed.