Feminism. It almost seems to be a dirty word these days, something people do not want to associate with or label themselves as. Is an idealism that preaches equality of the sexes is driving people away from its label these days?

Courtney Bethel / Equinox Staff

Courtney Bethel / Equinox Staff

There have been four major waves of modern feminism. The first wave of feminism originated in the late 19th and early 20th century, and primarily was the women’s suffrage movement, while the second wave in the 1960s and 1970s was focused on gaining women’s equality with men in the workplace and otherwise, as well as bodily autonomy.

The third wave of feminism came about in the 1980s, and brought matters to a head, integrating women of color and people of color into the movement, rallying behind the idea that unless we are all equal, the fight is not over.

This meshes with feminism of today, sometimes classified into its own category of fourth wave feminism.

Feminism today often gets an ugly face, thanks to media, social media, cultural narrative, radical ‘feminism’ and plain old misinformation. Obviously, not everyone will agree with every single thing feminism brings to the table, but educated and open discussion can be healthy for the movement as a whole.

In the end, the unyielding goal of the movement is for total equality of the sexes, regardless of race, sexuality or status. Feminism should not be boiled down to the “man-haters” that are all too commonly the face of feminism, and real feminism isn’t about bringing women to a higher standing than men, rather, it is making both sexes as equal as possible.

It seems like labeling oneself as a feminist these days equates with a person hell-bent on “taking down the patriarchy,” a man-hater or whose biggest feminist goal is “freeing the nipple.” While modern day movements, such as “Free the Nipple,” have good-at-heart intentions for gender equality, I feel as though it is commonly misconstrued.

Modern feminism isn’t about belittling men and showing our nipples in an effort to become the “superior” gender, as I feel like it is seen today. Ultra feminists and “Femi-Nazi’s” focusing on first word and very “white” problems are not an accurate depiction of what this movement is seeking to accomplish.

True feminism overcomes race, class, religion, ethnicities and gender. I believe this wave of  true feminism, not the extreme kind, is even giving a voice to the male victim.

A good example of this would be when actor Shia LaBeouf alleged he had been raped during a performance art piece he titled #IAMSORRY, to which much of the internet essentially laughed at and Piers Morgan called “absolute baloney.” Male victims of sexual assault, abuse, and violence often are subject to victim-blaming or  to people discrediting their experiences, even to crude jokes aimed at their “manliness.”

I think as modern day feminists, it is extremely important to not give up, despite the bad name certain people have given feminism today, and continue to push the messages of true equality that have been the core of the movement since its roots.

Focusing on a worldwide sanctioning of equality, in all of its definition, I think that is a goal worth pursuing and a message that deserves to be heard.

Meridith King can be contacted at Mking@kscequinox.com

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