The Battle for Feminism
Feminism: Fact or Fiction?
Normally I leave it to the Emma Watsons of this world to preach to the women of our generation on the beauty of true feminism. I can no longer do so. As I scrawl through the tweets that plague my TL (Timeline for non twitter users) I am shocked and horrified that people are still referring to people such as Miley Cyrus and Nicki Minaj as feminists. As a strong feminist, let me tell you that they are not examples of what it means to be a feminist.
What is feminism?
Feminism is a collection of movements and ideologies that all revolve around one common goal: To define, establish, and achieve equal political, economical, cultural, personal and social rights for all women. This includes many aspects ranging from establishing women equal rights to education to promoting integrity to protecting women from the evils of rape and domestic violence. The ignorant reader will stop here and question how a Muslim woman such as myself could be considered a feminist when I follow a religion which promotes the opposite. In response, I laugh and give you the link to a post I wrote a while back which reveals the idiocy of your judgement, highlighting the rights that Islam gave me long before the west decided to play catch up. (Link = https://aliaselby.wordpress.com/2014/02/08/the-spiritual-status-of-women-in-islam/)
For a quick example, Khadija was a Muslim woman dating back 1400 years ago who had an abundance of wealth and hugely successful businesses… name me one example of that in the west from that long ago?
Feminism dates back to a time when women were shunned by the world, imprisoned to their kitchens where their voices would be kept shut behind closed doors. The history of the modern western feminist movement is said mainly to delve into two wave; the first dealing with the woman’s suffrage movement, promoting women’s right to vote. The second is one which is still fought and focuses on the ideas and actions behind promoting women’s liberation. To this affect, I look towards Millicent Fawcett. Millicent was a leading suffragist who played a great role in gaining women the vote and she was a campaigner for equal rights for women and she led the biggest suffrage organisation, the non-violent National Union of Women’s Suffragist Societies (NUWSS). She was roughly my own age when she became actively involved in politics after hearing a speech delivered by the, at the time radical MP, John Mill. She was influenced and very much supported his support for women’s rights on the basis of utilitarianism. She became well known as a speaker and lecturer not just on women’s issues but also political and academic subjects of which in the 1870s was most certainly unheard of. Her critics were disarmed by not only her appearance but also her manner – demure, graceful and youthful yet firm approach. Not only did she help establish Newnham College, Cambridge but she also, using NUWSS, delved into helping many other causes outside of Women’s Rights; The Slave Trade and Relief funds for women and children, the education of women from India and helping women gain degrees to name but a few. She created greater equality of opportunity for women and she did so whilst retaining her integrity and her modesty.
Through this, she taught women like myself, the true meaning of feminism. If you want to put it into perspective, I am the Fawcett kind of feminist and Miley Cyrus is the Pankhurst kind of feminist. What I mean is that while I believe in the feminism in which women can become more successful or equal to men whilst maintaining their feminism and their modesty, by letting our brains do the talking and publicly speaking for what we believe in and watching as we make advancements towards true gender equality, there are women like Miley Cyrus who believe that feminism should be about being as crazy as possible in order to draw attention and then expect to be taken seriously when they try to talk about serious issues. The Pankhurst’s of this world only ever hinder our journey, our battle for feminism. Miley stands on stage making her money, her fame, her career by parading around in barely-there clothing, singing about things and dancing in a way that leaves the true feminists like myself cringing. Emma Watson, who spoke in front of the UN, who told women that having more clothes on was beautiful, that brains and intellect was more important, is a feminist. The shame about people like Miley is that she is talented. There is no doubting that. She has a good vocal range and she can write well. She could easily have just as successful a career focusing more on her music than being a modern day prostitute. Women who talk about feminism whilst degrading themselves to make money know nothing of the real feminism for if Millicent Fawcett and Wilhelmina Drucker were to see them now they would surely turn in their graves wondering why they had fought so hard just to see feminism become nothing more than a word. Next time you stumble across the word ‘feminism’, look into it, research it. Truly understand its history and appreciate it for its true meaning. It’s not about gaining attention by wearing 0 clothing; it’s about women gaining their rights by being who they choose to be regardless of gender enforces them to be. It’s about breaking the mould on gender specific rights and enforcing a world in which men and woman can be truly equal.
Let me leave you with a thought. Many women and indeed men reading this will argue that you can be a feminist without being covered in clothes. So let me remind you.
When humans started on this earth, they wore barely any clothes and were considered uneducated.
When we graduated from our colleges, our universities, we celebrated our intellect by wearing gowns.
Let’s let that sink in.