When most people hear the word “feminism”, they quickly dismiss it as women’s prejudiced anger towards men. Some men think that women use feminism as a weapon to go beyond the social stigma (men will always be better than women) and take over the world, rather than doing the “work” that most women supposed to do: cooking in the kitchen, or staying silent when oppressed. Even a famous white girl named Shailene Woodley, who starred in the Divergent franchise, told a magazine interviewee, “No I am not a feminist because I love men, and I think the idea of ‘raise women to power, take the men away from the power’ is never going to work out because you need balance“. And then she tried to justify her dumb statement by proceeding to say, “The reason why I don’t like to say that I am a feminist or I am not a feminist is because to me, it’s still a label. I do not want to be defined by one thing. Why do we have to have that label to divide us? We should all be able to embrace one another regardless of our belief system and regardless of the labels that we have put upon ourselves“. Except that she’s completely comfortable with labels like ‘actress’, ‘herbalist’, or ‘environmentalist’. How stupid can a white girl be? Instead of using her massive platform to educate her young followers, Woodley throws it under the gutter by saying stupid shit. Well, at least she supported the #NoDAPL (No Dakota Access Pipeline).
Anyway, what does feminism mean, really? Feminism (feməˌnizəm; noun) is the advocacy of women’s rights on the grounds of political, social, and economic equality to men. Emphasize on the word equality. Women use feminism to achieve EQUALITY—not for dividing themselves from men due to superiority, like what Shailene Woodley said in her interviews. For centuries, there has always been a stigma on how women are inferior to men. The Holy Bible pictures God, the Creator of them all, as a Caucasian male who creates Eve from Adam’s rib to complete his life by being a “helper suitable” for him (Genesis 2:18). Femininity on men is often seen as a bad thing, embarrassing almost, especially in Asian countries — that’s why coming out as gay is difficult here. You must have seen feminine boys being bullied at school for not acting sufficiently masculine, haven’t you?
Feminism is important because women every day, most specifically women of color and the LGBT community, experience inequality from school, work, and society as a whole. Malalai Yousafzai was shot in the head by the Taliban, just because she was a woman and wanted to get higher education in the year of 2012. Raden Ajeng Kartini was prohibited to continue her education, just because she was a woman. The famous host Oprah was raped, when she was only 9 YEARS OLD. Decades ago, women could not even vote in politics, or voice out their opinions. Until right now, myriad of women experience terrifying sexual assaults every damned day, raped and groped against their will. When women are sexually liberated, they are often called by derogatory words such as sluts and whore, or perek in Bahasa (I hate, despise the word perek). Powerful men in government, who think that they know everything about women’s bodies by being a pro-life, ban the act of abortion and birth control pills. Just letting you know, abortion is a pro-choice, and the choice is within the woman who has the baby in her tummy. Trans-women undergo sexual assaults every day just because people assume that they are not “fully women”. Asian women are often wrongly viewed and objectified as small, weak, submissive (overall easy to be oppressed). Black women’s bodies are often hyper-sexualized; their intelligence and soul being overlooked.
All of those reasons above show how everyone needs to support feminism.
I do not believe pageants like Miss Universe–they expect women to have all of these things: brain, beauty, attitude, hot body–then give them rewards for that? What a way to objectify women. Besides, Miss Universe’s franchise used to be owned by Donald Trump, the king of sexism. Also, there’s a side of bad feminism, which takes the form of “WHITE FEMINISM”. White feminism only represents the struggle of one group –privileged Caucasian women– and refuses to comprehend the problems of women of color, especially black women. The struggle of White Feminism usually centers around #FreeTheNipple movement, which is about women showing of their breasts, just like what men do. I honestly agree with the idea of desexualizing women, but it’s just very irrelevant. Problems regarding women’s right are far beyond that spectrum. Another type of white feminism is insensitively asking Muslim women to not wear hijab because “hijab is oppressive”, when wearing a hijab is actually a contextual choice in a way. Selling a 70$ dollar (900.000 Rupiah) T-shirt that says “This is What a Feminist Looks Like” when the migrant women of color making the shirt in the factory are paid UNDER A DOLLAR PER HOUR, is another example of white feminism.
Feminism itself is divided into three major waves:
- The first wave (19th-early 20th century) concerns legal issues and the right to vote for women. The first wave movement in the U.S was dominated by white women who dismissed the problems of Black Women.
- The second wave (1960s) mostly focuses on work equality, sexual and violence abuse, rape issues, and so on. This second wave movement is deeply criticized for its ignorance on women of color and queer women.
- The third wave emphasizes more on diversity within women of color and queer women, reminding society that women issues are still in existence.
Feminism has submerged since the 19th century, over centuries ago;it is basically a movement to gain equal rights for women living in a modernized society. And it sure as hell has to be intersectional — intersectionality in feminism covers up the LGBT community and women of color. In conclusion, feminism should not support one group of privileged women only (hence White Feminism).