MICHELLE P. TONNESEN
Feminism and Freedom in the 21st Century Ah, freedom! Taken for granted by many, coveted by even more. Freedom of expression. Economic freedom. Political freedom. Physical freedom. But what’s the status on women’s freedom? Is feminism just a thing of the past associated with hysterical suffragettes and bra burning hippies? In today’s discourse the word has almost become taboo – even among women. With high profiles like France’s former First Lady, Carla Bruni, announcing that there’s no need to be feminist in her generation anymore; and German Chancellor, Angela Merkel, stating that if she considered herself a feminist, many women would be upset – it’s no wonder the validity of the concept is being questioned! Man-haters. Corporate amazons. Pop star divas. And then there are the post-feminists and anti-feminists! All pitch in the debate making the topic as hot as ever.
At its core, feminism
can be defined as a collection of movements and ideologies
with the common goal of defining and achieving equal political, economic, cultural, personal and social rights for women. A look back through history shows that feminist campaigns have been the main force behind major societal changes like women’s suffrage, the right to own property, and reproductive rights – the focus of the first wave
in the 19th and early 20th centuries.
Second-wave feminism began in the early 1960s and still continues, largely concerned with the issues of discrimination and sexist power structures, focusing on women’s roles in their personal life as well as in the broader society. Whereas the first wave of feminism was generally propelled by middle class white women, the second phase drew in women of colour and developing nations, seeking sisterhood and solidarity.
THE AGENDA SUPPLEMENT
Published on May 26, 2015
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