Redefining the definition of the 21st century feminist.Sarah Jones
Feminism is defined as the theory of the political, economic, and social equality of the sexes and organized activity on behalf of women's rights and interests. The feminist movement really gained it’s footing in the 1970’s but its origins can be traced to the late ninetieth and early twentieth century. Most historians agree that there have been three major waves of feminist uprisings in the fight for gender equality. Now, it appears that a new uprising is on the horizon. Most authorities on the feminist movement agree that the fourth wave of feminism is looming due to the current state of politics. But with the latest resurgence in gender equality comes a new start for the movement. The face of feminism is changing very rapidly due to the current state of our culture and politics.
The new face of feminism is very different from the bra-burning days of the 1970’s. The movement began in the 1960’s when women were expected to get married young, have children immediately, and stay at home. Women were largely unwelcome a wide number of professions and were given very limited options to being independent. Women were considered the legal property of their husbands. They overall felt unfilled and unrest began to spread through the nation. The anger and the vitriol behind the movement began to alienate women who weren’t radical enough for the movement and men who might be sympathetic to the movement. People began to associate the term “Feminist” with an angry, unreasonable female. That connotation stuck and the myth of the angry feminist took hold.
The recent state of politics is currently creating what some experts believe is the fourth wave in the history of feminism. Even though the concept behind the movement is the same, the face of the newest type of feminist has morphed into something different. In response to the overwhelming association with an angry, bra-burning woman, the term feminist has taken on a new meaning and contains new qualities that fit into the 21st century. There are women emerging in this tumultuous cultural climate to lead the way to a better future for women. These women are proving that a feminist can be a strong, independent woman who is not angry but determined to make changes. Some of these women might not even consider themselves feminists but their actions and drive are paving the way for future generations to follow.
Men have dominated a majority of professions since the beginning of time. The opinion of a man always outweighed the opinion of a woman. There are many examples of women who would write under a male pseudonym in order to gain respect for their creative writings. This practice is still used today to help give credibility to an author. Authors even use their initials to disguise a feminine name. Not all women, however, are shying away from claiming their name when it comes to their writing. Authors like Justine Musk are loud and proud of their creativity. In fact, Justine Musk has given numerous TEDx talks about embracing your creativity and the power to make a change.
Musk, the author of Blood Angel, Lord of Bones, and Uninvited, has always been very vocal about how women should willingly accept their feminine qualities but with fire in their hearts. Musk goes into depth about the idea of women embracing these qualities in her blog post titled, “Emma Watson + why the Artemis archetype makes for awesome heroines”. The post is a thoughtful missive about how women should follow the role model of the goddess Artemis. She says, ”Like Athena, Artemis is a badass. She’s a competitor and a goal achiever. But she’s also a feminist and an advocate for sisterhood. She comes to the rescue of girls and women not yet in the position to rescue themselves.”
Her explanation of sisterhood is very fitting for the type of feminism that is necessary for the 21st century. In the 1970’s, feminism meant having to discard those traits that made women too “girly” or “feminine”. It meant those women who wished to retain some of their femininity were shunned from the movement. Musk in her post is saying that women from all walks of life should accept other women regardless of how they dress, what their skin color is, or how they live their life. She says that it is ok to embrace your feminine qualities and to be tough and independent at the same time.
The new definition of feminism is all encompassing and requires women to lift other women up and support them regardless of their backgrounds. Although women have been able to make many strides in both their personal and professional lives there is a still a long way to go when it comes to obtaining equality. This new concept of feminism is meant to bring all women together to help them get over the next hurdle in the race for equality. Justine Musk is asking for women everywhere to embrace each other and the qualities that make them both fierce and feminine. This new type of feminist is the wave of the future.