One of the most important movements in the last two centuries is feminism. Since the emergence of First-Wave Feminism in the 19th century, tremendous changes have been achieved including the right to vote, access to full education, and the freedom to engage in employment among many others intended to uplift the status of women. But in the past few years, the reputation of feminism has had a turn for the worse. Many have come to regard feminism with suspicion and derision, and this is partly due to the notion that feminism’s main agenda is to subjugate men and render them inferior to women. This cannot be further from the truth. True feminism is not about oppressing men; rather, true feminism is about promoting equality between men and women as well as giving women the freedom and the power to shape their own lives.
Firstly, feminism is not about making women superior to men; instead, it is about establishing equality between the sexes. It must be noted that feminism emerged as a response to the injustices that women had suffered throughout history. For many centuries, women were denied many of the rights and privileges that men enjoyed. Women received limited education, had few means to earn a living, and were confined to the domestic sphere as wives and mothers. As a result, most women became dependent on men and were therefore rendered vulnerable. The disadvantages women faced varied from one culture to another. In the same way, the freedoms women differed among societies. Such limitations imposed on women persisted for many centuries, and it was not until the 19th century when women began to truly achieve significant successes. But despite the changes, feminism remains important today for the reason that countless women still suffer injustices. Western society easily falls into the notion that women have advanced enough and that feminism today already focuses on disempowering men. What many seem to forget is that the experience of women in nations where gender parity is high is far from that of women in other countries. For instance, women in some countries still have no access to education and are considered as less valuable than men. Even in an advanced country like the United States, there remain institutional barriers to true equality. Women in this country, for example, are generally paid less than their male counterparts for the same amount of work. Women also disproportionately bear the bulk of domestic chores. Therefore, feminism today is not about subverting men. Instead, it is only seeks to continue the reforms started in the past and address the remaining disparities so that society could move closer to true equality.
Secondly, feminism today is about giving women the power to shape their own lives. The common image of an empowered woman is someone who is educated, has a job, and is financially independent. But as a result, the idea of a woman choosing to be a full-time housewife and mother has also come to be considered by some as a sign of lack of power and agency. In other words, some people have come to believe that female empowerment only comes in one form. This is the type of misconception that modern feminism seeks to dispel. Feminism today is about giving women the right to choose the life they want to lead without being criticized for it. It is about providing women with equal access to opportunities such as higher education, employment, career advancement, and political representation whether they choose to avail of these or not. In the eyes of true feminism, a woman’s informed choice to become a full professional is just as valid and as another woman’s informed choi