Feminism is a word that many have heard but just as many have only a vague idea of what it means. It is one short word that is so packed with meaning, that the average person may not be able to speak very eloquently about it. However, while the academic terms may be daunting, it can be simply understood as the full equality of the sexes in every area of life.
Feminism as a concept has of course been around since the dawn of human history, but only in modern times has it had such a powerful and vocal presence. As the majority of modern societies can be understood as upholding male-centered, patriarchal hierarchies, it is a movement to free women from oppression. It seeks the full equality of all genders. This can be understood in two main ways. The first would be as an academic discipline, and the second as a world-view. As an academic discipline, it is categorized under sex and gender studies; however it intersects with every other discipline imaginable. Feminist theory can be especially applied in the fields of sociology and politics. As a world-view, it seeks to gain gender equality mainly in the political and social arena. Politically, the legislation of explicit legal rights for women, transgender, and other gender minorities falls under this category. Legal protection for men, for example in cases of male victims of sexual assault or male-led caregiving roles, also falls under the political spectrum of feminism. Socially, it has a direct effect on gender relations within families, gender-based expectations, or any other social interaction that could cause disparity between genders. Even things most modern people may take for granted, such as the choice to marry or remain unmarried, is a feminist issue.
It is important to remember that this is not only a women’s issue. Men, women, as well as transgender individuals all suffer from unequal patriarchal society. While women bear the brunt of the violence, men also are confined to strict social and gender roles. Men or boys who are victims of sexual assault, for example, may find their stories met with the expectation that males cannot suffer such things. Another example that is not as violent could be single-parent family whose caretaker is the father rather than the mother. This father could face severe discrimination in caring for his children.
In conclusion, feminism is not a new idea, but many do not know enough about it. It is the job of every citizen to consider feminist values, and work to create a more equal society for all people.