The Concept of Feminism

Introduction

Feminism advocates for women’s rights. Feminism deems that women have been oppressed and should be liberated and enjoy equality. They argue that women have been oppressed and discriminated against by men. The following is a discussion on why feminists believe that women are oppressed. Moreover, there is an evaluation of the situation of women in Canada.

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Feminism and oppression of women

Feminism is a political and philosophical ideology that seeks to find justice for women. Feminists believe that women are oppressed and, therefore, disadvantaged when compared with men. In history, women have not enjoyed complete equality as men are a majority in societies. Feminism is also a political movement that seeks equal opportunity for women in political, social, and cultural issues. Feminism argues that women are the majority of victims of injustices caused by gender roles as well as sexist. Some men have also been oppressed based on sexist and distribution of responsibilities (Jordanman 1).

Issues that feminists fight for are women’s rights in relation to the ownership of property, political representation, voting, and reproductive rights. They also fight for equal pay, equal employment opportunities, and equal rights in working place. Feminists reject the oppression of women to inform of domestic violence, sexual assault, and sexual harassment.

Feminism has taken different perspectives depending on the culture of people and the time. Feminism is seen as a movement that emerged during modernism, although female activists fighting for women’s rights may have existed even before modernism. Early feminists fought for women’s right to vote, equal treatment in the application of the law, and social equality. In the early 20th century in the United States and the United Kingdom, equality of women in parenting, marriage, owning property, and the contract was the major campaign.

At the same time, other feminists were fighting for women’s economic rights and reproductive rights. Towards the end of the 20th century, women in Europe were granted voting rights and allowed women to vie for a parliamentary office. Women were granted rights to get employment. Women were also given education rights to enable them to obtain education and get equal opportunities for securing employment and pursuing a career.

Feminism has been associated with white women belonging to the middle social class. They have publicly shared their experiences of discrimination and gender imbalance hence;, they have been at the forefront of fighting for women’s rights. Oppression of women varies from one community to another. Women in the west seem to have enjoyed women’s rights earlier than women elsewhere. In Africa, many forms of injustices still remain.

There have been discriminating laws that do not allow women to have equal rights as men. Women have been denied the chance to own property and land as men. Without the right to possess property, women would remain without capital, hence; they are denied the chance to develop and support themselves in their lives. Since they lack property and depend on men for a living, they are exposed to poverty and homelessness, in the case of absence of a male provider.

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Upon obtaining rights of equal employment opportunity, women and men could work at the same office. Women were expected to work for longer hours than men. Moreover, the pay was lower than the pay of a male worker given the same job description. Besides, women had the responsibility of taking care of households and children. The division of labor in the house hold required woman to take care of house hold chores and the man to provide.

According to Stanford Encyclopedia of philosophy (1), feminists argue that language has been used to denote women as a weaker sex. Language is part of culture which has been passed on to new generations. Feminists suggest the inclusion of both genders in language and the use of neutral language. Women have also been excluded in cultural and scriptural perspective. Women have not been part of the clergy. Religions have been accused of causing inequality among men and women. Religious authority has been assigned to men. Christian, Islamic and Jewish feminists focus on the representation of women in religious leadership and criticize the interpretation of holy books in a patriarchal perspective.

Patriarchy has been blamed for causing inequality of men and women in society. Patriarchal societies view men as property owners, and have authority over children and women who subordinate to men’s authority. Men dominate over women in an unjust social system causing oppression.

Women have also been under represented in academic writing. In the past few female scholars have published their works. In the present, an increasing number of female writers and scholars have increased, with a large number of women joining educational institutions and participating in the employment sector.

Feminists argue that the highest number of domestic violence, sexual harassment and sexual assault against women is oppressive. Women have also fallen victim of prostitution where they are accused of prostituting while men are not accused. Prostitution and pornography are seen as oppressive and as a form of exploitation.

Feminists fight for reproductive rights of women. Reproductive rights fight for the freedom of women to choose when to carry a pregnancy to term and the choice to terminate the pregnancy. The term reproductive rights have been used to mean the right to abortion. Reproductive rights fight for women to have access to birth control contraceptives. Introduction of contraceptives allow women to plan their lives to achieve family and career goals.

Feminists have been accused of going against religious teaching and traditions that have been passed on from generations. Those who oppose feminism argue that feminism promotes the interests of women.

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Women in Canada

Landolt (1) notes that the Canadian women have participated in feminism. In 1960’s up to 1990’s, feminists in Canada penetrated and caused societal changes. A large number of women joined the work and obtained education. The freedom caused women to spend few time with their children and spouse. Domestic violence was in the society, where customary married women were four times likely to experience domestic violence than legally married women. Labor laws were amended to accommodate women in the work place. Moreover, the labor laws recognized the oppression of women at work and were amended in their favor.

Feminism led to changes in Canadian society, where the concept of referring children as illegitimate was abolished. Other forms of families other than a nuclear family were recognized. Child care was made a communal responsibility. The definition of family was revised. Housekeeping was made a social industry and the duties of a woman working in the house were recognized. Women were allowed to work in the factories. Divorce process was made easy and free where women could initiate divorce. The sex roles were eliminated.

Women in Canada have the right to vote. Widows and single women are allowed to vote too. Both men and women can vie for political offices. Other reforms championed by feminism include the equal pay for labor of similar value. Men received a higher pay for the same work. The constitution advocates for equality of man and women in many areas of society and politics.

Conclusion

Feminism seeks justice for women. Feminism holds that women have been oppressed by men who dominate over them. The women have been denied opportunities to own property, get education, to work, to vote and be in political and religious leadership. They have also fallen victim of sexual harassment, sexual assault and domestic violence. Women have received less pay than men and work for long hours. Feminists fight for equal representation of women in leadership in politics and in religion. They also argue that women have equal rights to men to get education, get equal opportunities to work and an equal pay of value of labor.

Women have property rights and contracts in society. Feminism fights for reproductive rights of women, which allow them have access to contraceptives and abortion rights. Parenting and marriage roles should be equal. Feminism promotes gender neutral language and inclusion of human rights in the constitution. Feminists have been accused of ignoring tradition and going against religious teaching.

Works Cited

Jordanman, Friedman. How Feminism Leads to the Oppression of WomenThe Brussels Journal, 2007. Web.

Landolt, Gwendolyn. Impacts of Feminism on our Culture, 2011. Web.

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Stanford Encyclopedia of philosophy. Topics in Feminism, 2011. Web.

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