If you turn on the news, open up Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram, there is a really good chance that you will see people holding a rally, whether in the United States, Europe, or another part of the world. There have been a lot of social movements in the last few years, whether for social justice, racial justice, or anti-violence or oppression against women.
Many of these movements and rallies you see nowadays are part of the result of past feminist and racial justice movements of the past. Thanks to past efforts of feminists over the past two to three centuries we can see the results today of how much they have inspired, motivated and influenced feminists nowadays and how feminist ideologies have changed and grown into different movements.
Feminism has also changed society thanks to all of the benefits that it has afforded to females around the world. Many laws have been changed to grant women rights that they lacked before which allows them more equality and more safety.
Women are able to be homeowners, educated, respected employees, business owners, billionaires, and more, and all the while still fighting for equality.
Feminism has changed society's perception of women and has granted females more freedom which has allowed us all to enjoy great thinkers, writers, performers, etc., that were not held back simply because they are females.
So how exactly has the feminist movement changed society as well as change how society treats women?
Famous Historical Feminists
Before we talk about how feminism has changed society, it will be important to talk about WHO helped to make those changes happen. Many writers, philosophers, and activists in the past became influential to each ideology and movement that came after.
Historically women have suffered from inequality in society. For centuries and centuries, women were not allowed outside of their domestic sphere, in other words, they were made to stay at home, take care of the home and children, and couldn't influence life outside of that sphere.
Women for a long time weren't allowed to have an education, vote, and were seen as inferior to men for a time by some thinkers.
So who were the first women to begin to influence what would become organized feminist movements?
Age of Enlightenment
A famous writer and philosopher from the 18th century, Mary Wollstonecraft challenged ideas from other Enlightenment thinkers that argued women needed to be inferior to men.
Age of Abolitionism
In the United States not only were feminist ideas starting to come out, but also those of ending slavery. Sojourner Truth embodied and pushed for both of those ideas. As she was a woman who was born into slavery she fought against discrimination against women and the abolishment of slavery in the United States.
The feminism that exists nowadays is something that seems completely different to the feminism that existed during the late 19th century or the 1960s. Today it is more about how women can show their feminine side without being judged or feeling threatened.
Perhaps no one has challenged the idea that women can dress and act how they want and at any age more than pop star Madonna has. She has been very influential in terms of this ideology and also an enemy to those who are against the current ideology of feminism.
Benefits of Feminism
Feminism is the advocacy for women's rights, and since organized feminist movements started there have minor and major wins for females everywhere.
So what have these activists, philosophers, and others helped to win for females everywhere, without their effort women would have much fewer rights, and much less equality and influence in the world today?
So what benefits have women earned?
The Right to Vote
Speaking strictly about the United States it wasn't guaranteed that women had the right to vote until women campaigned for their right to vote. The Women's Suffrage Movement helped assure women would be guaranteed to vote in the year 1920.
Another problem women were faced with was not being paid for the same amount of work as a man for the same amount of hours. Thanks to outspoken feminist activists women were able to earn equal pay for the amount of work they did.
Aside from equal pay and the right to vote feminism has also helped women to face much less discrimination in the workplace and make sure that women have the right to safe and legal abortion.
Gender violence is also illegal and not tolerated like it was decades ago.
Feminism has benefited women in a huge way making sure they are accepted in the public sphere as well as the domestic one, making sure women are respected and paid well enough in the workforce, as well as able to dress and act as they want without fear of any type of judgement or violence.
Different types of feminism
Feminism has also created philosophers, thinkers, and activists more material to think of how to help women, and therefore more feminist ideologies were made.
The main idea is to provide equality to women as well as change an oppressive society.
In the 1960s radical feminism was formed to fight against an oppressive, patriarchal system and from there other feminist ideologies were created:
- Liberal feminism
- Cultural feminism
- Marxist feminism
Feminism also created motivation and influence for philosophers and thinkers throughout the 20th and 21st centuries.
Effects of Feminism in Society
All of the benefits of feminism as well as ideologies that have come about over the past decades and feminists how we view and act with females in society. Surely if someone gave you a time machine and you went back in time only 50 years ago you would see the difference regarding how women are treated in society.
If you went back 100 or 200 years you wouldn't believe the things that are said about women or how they were treated. While they could be treated well by their husband or family, lesbians could be punished in countries that we consider developed. Women would not be able to work or vote.
In the year 2021, we can say women have many of the opportunities that men do. Of course, there is still a lot of equality needed, no woman has ever been president of the United States as one glaring example, violent crimes still happen too much to women etc., but we can't deny the effects that feminism has brought to society.
So what are some of the most obvious changes to society regarding how women are treated and accepted?
As mentioned before, for a time women wouldn't even be allowed to go to school, of course, that was a long time ago. However, we can't say that about every country. There are countries like Mali and Chad where girls have to jump through a lot of barriers to get an education.
In the United States for example females consistently outperform males in school.
This is such a huge change in society, yet 95% of the top positions in businesses around the country are run by men.
Women in politics
This is really important, many countries didn't let women vote until only a couple of centuries ago, or didn't guarantee them the right to vote until the last century. Now we see more and more female politicians in positions of power, or even heads of state or government in some countries, New Zealand being one for example.
In the United States for all we boast about freedom and equality, we've never had a woman president.
Nowadays girls choose clothes that perhaps in the 1950s would've brought them a lot of harsh judgement from the majority of people. Luckily thanks to activists and celebrities like Madonna, women are allowed to dress how they want while receiving much less judgement.
Women earn more money
Of course, there is still a lot to improve on this one. We can say that women's wages have been able to increase over time although men are by and large paid better. There also aren't so many strict gender roles nowadays when it comes to women taking a job.
Women's sports and athletics are much more respected nowadays, especially when it comes to the Olympic games.
The main problem is the huge disparity in pay compared to male athletes. However, we can note that female athletes are respected and followed more and more by society.
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