Adjusting Contemporary Feminism

India Flinchum, Columnist

If you’re a woman, Feminism isn’t about “taking back your body” by wearing revealing clothing and attempt to empower womankind by reclaiming your sexuality. It bothers me that woman of the 21st century are quick to conflate Feminism with sexual liberation, at times calling themselves “hoes” in front of friends and laughing it off. “It’s okay, I’m a Feminist!”, they’ll say. “I love myself and my body!”

Second-wave Feminists like Gloria Steinem and Simone de Beauvoir established that Feminism’s underlying goal is to restore humanity to women. This humanity, they claim, has been possessed by men because of biological components and socialized behavior.

A problem arises because Feminism is not, and has never been, an excuse to sexualize oneself through clothing and conduct, and to defend one’s choice to do so on the basis of Feminism.

I am concerned with how some women perceive contemporary Feminism, conflating Feminist power with an overt and often exaggerated expression of femininity. Women who express Feminism in this way are, ironically, perpetuating the idea that their power lies in their femininity, and not in their humanness.

Feminism is rooted in the idea that we must, as a society, see woman as capable, qualified, and competent on the basis of the mind, soul, and spirit; the body and the socially-constructed femininity attached to it are not part of this goal.

However, the media is not properly portraying this facet of Feminism. Powerful female figures like warrior Diana of Wonder Woman are still sexualized and objectified. In Wonder Woman, Diana’s body is a source of immense power and pride, but her strength, bravery, and athleticism are only secondary to her overtly visible femininity.

Contemporary Feminism needs to be re-evaluated and amended. While Feminism’s goal has always been equality of the sexes, we must reframe our methods of achieving this goal to more closely mirror the objectives of second-wave Feminists.

Second-wave feminists perceived femininity as a means of conflating women’s value to that of sex objects and domestic slaves and thus, they rejected femininity altogether. On the other hand, contemporary Feminists are straying from this facet of Feminism and are instead, are uplifting femininity, perpetuating stereotypes and contributing to the microaggressions that promote gender hierarchy.

Using words like “bitch” and “slut” casually, accepting female prostitution, and strutting around in six-inch stilettos is not promoting feminist ideals or posing a threat to patriarchal oppression. We must stop reclaiming sex symbols that have been historically used to oppress women as our fuel. I urge contemporary Feminists, specifically women, to first realize that their autonomy and humanity is separate from their femininity. Second, we must fight sexism by paying tribute to Feminism’s founding goals; namely, for women’s societal influence to be attributed to personal values that exist outside of the feminine cloak.