Defining feminism can be somewhat complex. Having been raised in a feminist household, Orlando Figes feels that he has a pretty good understanding of it, however. For him, it is about achieving equality between the genders on an economic, political, cultural, and social level. Feminism is, however, about empowering women so that they can choose to live free from oppression.
Feminism is global, but it means different things in different places. This is because women have differing inequalities depending on where they live. In a place such as the United States, for instance, the main struggle is the gender pay gap. In a country like Somalia, for instance, the gender pay gap will no doubt become an issue at some point, but there is a greater focus right now on issues such as Female Genital Mutilation (FGM).
A Global Definition
One thing unites all women, however, and that is that, around the global, they are disproportionally discriminated against. This transcends skin color or ethnic origin. Each woman has a specific issue that she feels of importance, but what brings them all together is that they continue to be treated as lesser beings.
There is also a case to be made for the idea that a definition of feminism has to be fluid, and that each individual will have their own definition of it. This is because perception is based on unique experiences. This is why experts like Orlando Figes understand that feminism is something on which there are many different perceptions. Specifically, he has defined:
- Feminism and society as a whole.
- Feminism and economic development.
- Feminism and political movements.
- Feminism and science.
- Feminism and religion.
Feminism also relates directly to men. This is because, in order to achieve equality, there has to be a fair balance between men and women alike. The ultimate goal is to liberate each individual. This means that any movement that is designed mainly for boys and men is also part of feminism. This is particularly true for gender sensitization. The clothing campaigns are good examples of this, where boys are told to wear blue with slogans such as “I want to be an astronaut”, whereas girls wear pink with slogans such as “I want to be a princess”.
Womanhood, which is spiritual, intellectual, mental, and physical, has to be openly discussed. It is also something that transcends the genders. Men must accept that they are somewhat victims of the patriarchy themselves, with society expecting them to be the strong breadwinners, free from emotional displays. In essence, men sell themselves short by not understanding they are equal.
Womanhood is rising and it is becoming more acceptable to suggest that women are people too, no matter how radical that notion continues to be. Men now openly declare themselves to be feminists because they understand it does not mean they have to give up on any rights. Rather, it means that they can be who they want to be themselves, and that women can do the same.