DISCLAIMER: All of the views expressed in this article are solely my own, and do not represent the entirety of the staff at VocaLady Magazine.
The beginning of this new presidency has been littered with headlines, sensationalism, and changing attitudes towards cultural norms. While Donald Trump makes his own headlines, his staff is forging onward to discuss other issues. Most recently, Kellyanne Conway—known for her doublespeak with reporters and politicians—renounced modern feminism in an interview with The Washington Post, and instead claimed she was a “postfeminist”. She did not extend a definition of this new social attitude, but she was more than willing to make her claims against the feminist movement today. She argued that she aimed more for equality, and did not support “that whole anti-male culture where we want young boys to sit down and shut up in the classroom”. She said that she believes “the feminist movement has been hijacked by the pro-abortion movement or the anti-male sentiments that you read in some of their propaganda”. This, according to Kellyanne Conway, is the modern feminist movement.
So, let us talk about the modern feminist movement in all of its horror.
The 21st century is bearing witness to the third wave of feminism. The first two waves focused on general equality between men and women, and later, on reproductive rights, workplace rights, and greater sexual liberation for women. These are all, arguably, goals we are still fighting for. Early movements saw the conception of the Equal Rights Amendment in America, which was never passed. Early feminists fought for suffrage, and for women’s issues to be heard. While these waves were also riddled with “white feminism“, focusing solely on issues that white women face, it was still the start of a movement that has kept its momentum today.
The modern feminist wave is still building off of these goals, but is including greater issues and groups of people into its focus. We strive for greater intersectionality, including women of all colors, ages, backgrounds, classes, and genders. That may sound contradictory, but the modern movement differs from previous waves in its inclusion of transgendered and nonbinary people. Further, feminism in the 21st century includes men in its scope. I wonder what Ms.Conway believed was “anti-men” sentiment, when it is a movement geared towards gender equality in every application.
Mrs. Conway argued that modern feminism has been hijacked by abortion proponents. She may have a point; except that her point is based in a misconception. There is a difference between supporting abortion and greater access, and the extreme belief that abortion is equal to involuntary euthanasia—a belief to which Mrs. Conway seems to subscribe. Modern feminists fight for greater access to a procedure which, when implemented, reduces rates of poverty and child abandonment; improves the economy and social services; and is more effective than abstinence-only education.
Modern feminism fights issues that affect all genders, including bodyshaming. It fights rape and sexual assault of all people, including the silenced group of male survivors who have found a voice in feminist revolt. It fights stigmas of social groups, such as forcing all men to be masculine or all women to be feminine.But it also fights damaging stereotypes for men, women, and everyone in between. It argues there is no wrong way to be a gender, and caters to nonbinary people. It seeks to establish state institutions to protect marginalized people. It supports nonprofit and nongovernmental organizations that fight against the government when it ignores its people. Modern feminism seeks to change society so that everyone stands on equal ground.
Modern feminism is intersectional. Modern feminism supports the #BlackLivesMatter movement. Modern feminism supports women who choose to wear or cast out the hijab. Modern feminism supports the “Dad Bod” and other societal acts to include men of all shapes, sizes and varieties. Modern feminism renounces double standards and different treatment for different people. Modern feminism gives power to the word “no”, and stresses the importance of choice. Modern feminism opposes executive orders targeting, hurting, and detaining innocent people. Modern feminism is for people of every background, religion, class, or color. If you support equality for everyone, you are a feminist.
Mrs. Conway, I am a feminist. I am not an expert in feminist theory or history, but this is a pretty strong list. I am sure there are many people who could add more to this list aside from abortion and man-hating.
During your interview with The Washington Post, you said that you “consider [yourself] one of those women who is a product of her choices, not a victim of her circumstances”. I am not sure I understand how this differs from the strong legacy feminism has left behind for us. I think that I am a survivor of many things, stigmas and acts of violence against myself. I think that feminism gives me a voice to talk about those things on an individual level, and a platform to fight against these things on a global scale. Personally, this is what feminism means to me.
So, Mrs. Conway, I have to ask. What is a “postfeminist“? Because there is no need to try to talk your way out of the future of feminism. We are the future. And we will keep fighting.
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