Beyoncé, Emma Watson, and Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie are just some Hollywood names that have used their spotlight as a ladder to claim their title as a feminist.
The social issue of equal rights has been topic of significance throughout the world for countless years, from Martin Luther King Jr. tackling the depths of racism to the people in the gay rights parade flaunting their pride each year throughout the city of Toronto.
Although it has always existed in society, the equality of gender roles seems to be making its way back into the spotlight.
UOIT professor, Dr. Olga Marques says she’s tired of the misconceptions of feminism: feminists are man-haters, only females can be feminists, feminism is only liberated at the expense of males. Feminism is a topic infected by multiple false assumptions. She cannot wait for the record be set straight.
Marques takes pride in being a feminist. She grew up in a household where gender roles were clearly established due to the nature of her culture and traditional father. Her passion for the social movement was a feeling that she couldn’t ignore and guided her path through education.
“If you look at the history between any social movement, there has always been dissent against anyone who fights for any kind of social change,” said Marques. “We are taught to look at them in regarding to suspicion, they have to be doing something wrong just because they aren’t following the status quo.”
For the fourth year TIME magazine did a poll on what words should be banned from society in 2015. The magazine included the word feminist on the list.
“If you hear that word one more time, you will definitely cringe. You may exhale pointedly. And you might even seek out the nearest the pair of chopsticks and thrust them through your own eardrums like straws through plastic lids,” stated TIME.
The magazine’s opinion on the word came with backlash from Cosmopolitan’s Jill Filipovic who wasn’t pleased. “The good news is that TIME‘s most recent anti-feminist effort is doomed to fail,” she wrote.
Students say they’re confused on the topic. Those unaware of what the movement actually stands for say that they feel like gender restricts who feminism is targeted to benefit.
Jahmall Anderson-Harte, a second year Durham College computer system technology student said he is slightly oblivious to the subject. “Feminism doesn’t really mean to much to me because it’s not something that is really talked about in my everyday life. I’m not a female but do I believe that women deserve to be treated with respect and should stand up for what they believe in, but again I’m a man,” said Anderson- Harte.
Lack of understanding is not restricted to the male gender. There are females also confused about the true definition of feminism. Durham College student Adrienne Rajaram said she’s heard of feminism but doesn’t completely get the concept behind it. “I know feminism in a commercialized aspect, meaning the only time it really comes up is when it has to do with a Beyoncé song or a angry Tumblr post.”
According to a study on feminism philosophy in 2013 by the Liberal Arts and Sciences department at Villanova University, being a feminist is not about sexual orientation and has nothing to do with discrimination or hatred for the male gender.
Dr. Andrea Braithwaite, a UOIT communications professor, takes pride on being a feminist and believes that society needs feminism. “Feminism is absolutely necessary in society. Women still, on average, make less money at the same job as men. Women are much more likely to be victims of domestic violence or sexual assault,” said Braithwaite. “Women are safer telling a man I have a boyfriend than they are saying I’m not interested in you. Women’s clothing is considered a sign that they are asking for it. There are all sorts of reasons why we need feminism, and why we’re not yet done with it.”
Nigerian author, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, 37, has also made her mark with outspoken lectures on why she thinks everyone should be a feminist. On December, 2013, Beyoncé released her self-titled album featuring Adichie in her song called “Flawless” where she recited some of her “We should all be feminist” speech. “We teach girls to shrink themselves, to make themselves smaller. We say to girls, ‘you can have ambition, but not too much. You should aim to be successful, but not too successful. Otherwise you will threaten the man,’” says Adichie. “Because I am female, I am expected to aspire to marriage. I am expected to make my life choices always keeping in mind that marriage is the most important. Now marriage can be a source of joy and love and mutual support.”
The United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women is a committee that stands for issues concerning women’s rights. Perspective on the committee’s angle towards making a difference was shared in an interview with UN Women’s representative, Elizabeth Nyamayaro. “The committee recognizes that violence is one of the main mechanisms denying women equality,” says Nyamayaro.
The committee has supported the needs of women by recognizing the mistreatment of women across the world. British actor, Emma Watson has been appointed as the UN Women’s Goodwill Ambassador launch of “HeForShe.” The program was welcomed to the world on Sept. 24, 2014, while Watson spoke about her experiences as a feminist and the importance of feminism to society.
Throughout the years the world has been battling many social issues that has destroyed the lives of many. The balance of equality between races, cultures and genders share importance to keep peace throughout society.
Written for The Chronicle