Written by Rachel Allen
Fifty years have passed since Betty Friedan published, “The Feminine Mystique.” Yet every day, women still face issues like executive-level inequality, unequal pay, violence, and trying to maintain a work-life balance. The aforementioned tend to be well-known in social spheres, but what about the lesser known battles women also face every day?
With women accounting for over half the population in the United States, it goes without saying that the diversity within this group is broad—there is no ideal woman. Each one has specific interests, priorities, and needs. Therefore, the fight for equality becomes all that more complicated.
According to NPR, “there is no way to perfectly represent or even understand the diversity of female experiences. Therefore, the key in the movement is to get beyond an ideal of personal feminist perfection and build a feminist movement that has room for nuance, conflict, and a multitude of interests and ideas.” Part of this movement is the necessity for a shift in thinking that individualizes and personalizes it while breaking the stereotypical roles that threaten the feminist culture.
Feminists are stereotypically portrayed as unshaven, angry, bra burning, man hating, close-minded, sexist and female. Feminists actually come in all shapes, sizes, colors, sexual orientation, and even genders. In conjunction with International Woman’s Day, some universities have launched t-shirt campaigns to add to the diversity and inclusion in the school making it more encompassing of the wide range of members of the feminist movement. T-shirts are also being sold in a global marketplace, allowing individuals to announce their own connection to feminism.
More recently, a Tumblr campaign titled “We are What Feminists Look Like” was launched in response to a woman’s picture being stolen off a dating site, which was then turned into a fat shaming anti-feminist meme on Facebook. It showcases a vibrant community of supporters of the feminist movement and begins to break the stereotypes and negative connotation associated with feminism.
While we are constantly moving toward a more diverse description of what it means to be a feminist in the 21st Century, there is much work to do; but we can start here and continue pressing for complete equality. After all, if there are millions of diverse faces working toward equality then it must be a fight worth fighting.