Are you a Feminist?

I sat in a week long Intensive class “The Psychology of Women”.  The professor’s opening statement for the class “Raise your hand if you are a feminist.” I was the only person in the to raise my hand. Powerful!! Of course the closing statement for the class was “Raise your hand if you are a feminist.” Twenty-four people both men and women, raised their hands (the entire class).

My first thought. The importance to educate others on the subjects feminism and empowerment of women.

My second thought. Write about it!!!

“The first problem for all of us, men and women, is not to learn, but to unlearn.”
Gloria Steinem

Feminist: the term replaces the former phrase “womens’  libber” that was often used in a derogatory manner. A feminist is a person who favors political, economic, and social equality of women and men, and therefore favors the legal and social changes necessary to achieve that equality.

Feminism has helped to change the more traditional perspectives in many areas.

Through the years feminist activists have campaigned for woman’s legal rights including the following: 1.) rights of contract- property rights, and voting rights, 2.) a woman’s rights to bodily integrity-abortion and reproductive rights, 3.) protection of women and girls from sexual harassment, domestic violence, incest, and rape, 4.) economic matters have also been a focus- workplace rights, equal pay, maternity leave and gender-specific discrimination against women.

The movement came in waves, each having distinct purpose and outcome.

First wave ~ Women’s Suffrage. This occurred during the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries and the focus was on legal rights, property ownership and the right to vote. In the forefront- Florence Nightingale and Susan B. Anthony

Second wave ~ Women’s Liberation Movement. Focused on the unofficial rights of sexuality (birth control), family (abortion) and workplace (equal pay).

Third wave ~ Continuation Movement. Moving forward in reaction to the perceived failures of the first and second-waves of feminism, beginning in the 1990’s.
You might find this website informative www.feminist.com. There are some fascinating and intriguing interviews with feminists that include: Eve Ensler, Carol Gilligan, Jane Fonda, Gloria Steinheim, Melissa Etheridge, Annie Lennox, Natalie Portman and many more.

Important Facts

It was only 38 years ago (1972) that congress passed the Equal Rights Amendment.

The amendment reads: “Equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex.”

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And it was 32 years ago in 1978 that they passed the Pregnancy Discrimination Act.

This act bans employment discrimination against pregnant women, stating a woman cannot be fired or denied a job or a promotion because she is or may become pregnant, nor can she be forced to take a pregnancy leave if she is willing and able to work.

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Also in the 1970’s came legalization of abortion with the court case of Roe vs. Wade in 1973.

The Roe Court deemed abortion a fundamental right under the United States Constitution, thereby subjecting all laws attempting to restrict it to the standard of strict scrutiny.

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“We’ve come a long way baby.”

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2 thoughts on “Are you a Feminist?

  1. Nice blog Sharon, I too proudly don the moniker of feminist. As you mention, the Equal Rights Amendment was passed by congress 38 years ago, but it’s worth noting that it has still not been ratified as part of our constitution, failing shy of three states votes. In 2010, women still do not have full equal rights under the constitution of the unites states.

  2. Thank you for the reminder Sharon. I am still so impressed how you are putting yourself out there pushing past comfort zones: writing, connecting with your sister, demonstrating to your daughter & family that you still “got something going on!” It brings to mind a favorite quote of mine from Billy Jean King, tennis pro:
    “If she does well, men will look at her differently. But women will still look at her the same way. To us, it’s more important that she’s trying, that she’s going for it.” Take care.

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