Friday, 12 July 2013

Whatever happened to the 'F word'?

by Pavandeep Virdee

I can understand that the title above may be a little misleading - so just to clear any confusion, the only ‘F word’ I’ll be using in this article is in fact feminism! I know what you’re thinking: why feminism? Well, it may seem a little strange, but believe it or not, it seems that many young women and girls are more reluctant to talk about feminism; or even simply mention the word in a conversation, than ever before.

But why is this? With regards to feminism itself, there doesn’t seem to be anything wrong with its cause; it has been at the heart of defending equal political, economic and social rights for women for over 100 years. From the right to vote, all the way to having free access to contraception - the wave of feminism has passed us all. Nonetheless, what is the mystery behind the decline in modern feminism?

The biggest reason for the dislike of feminism amongst recent times, is that feminists are often branded by the media and anti-feminist groups, as being ‘men-haters’, who believe that women’s rights are more important than men’s rights - leading to them being too concerned about the issues of women, whilst forgetting the issues of men too.

Still, is this really the case? The truth is that most feminist groups today do not neglect the issues of men- some have in fact pioneered in promoting global awareness of unspoken issues, like prison rape - which largely affects male prisoners. It can be said however, that feminists do advocate more for the rights of women, but that’s largely because they believe that in comparison to men, women still have many significant issues, which are not always openly addressed by society - such as the lack of rights to contraception and abortion for many women in developing countries.

Going further, the misunderstanding of feminism as being a centre for ‘male-hating’ women, demonstrates that perhaps the decline in modern feminism is down to people themselves, who are not informed or educated about feminists properly - for example, even when the global singer BeyoncĂ© was asked whether she thought she was a feminist, all she could muster was: ‘That word can be very extreme… I do believe in equality. But I'm happily married, I love my husband.’ As you can imagine, many feminists were astonished at her response - what did she think: feminists were unsociable, withdrawn members of society who could never be happily married, or love their husbands?

So from the above, it’s clear that more attention needs to be given to address the rising negativity arousing feminism. However, as a fifteen-year old girl in 2013, I think that feminism should be seen as still having some significance today. After all, it is the fighting force of feminism, which has gotten the place of women in society where they are today, and it was the work of the feminists, which gives me the absolute freedom to write this article myself, and publish my name at the top, without being told I can’t - simply because I'm a woman. Hence, whether or not you agree with the principles suggested by feminism, I'm sure you’d agree that we should still be grateful to it, and understand the importance of carrying its fundamental message forward into the future - striving for the benefits of equal rights and gender equality.


  1. Fabulous article, Pav! You might be interested in seeing why some students at Cambridge University feel they need feminism...

    They've shared their thoughts through pictures here:

    1. Thanks for this Viva! A powerful page underlining how the fight for equality is not yet over, and I think that the fact that several men chose to comment as well as women, shows how the feminism movement aims to free everyone from their traditional gender roles and stereotypes- a definite eye-opener.


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