Is feminism a benefit or a detriment to society?

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Is feminism a benefit or a detriment to society?

Savannah Pinnock, Opinion Editor

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The question of whether feminism is a benefit or a detriment to society is one that has often been received by the public as a touchy, and taboo subject.

Within modern-day America, and our campus community as a whole, there are a myriad of feminist movements and programs such as #MeToo, The Vagina Monologues, The Feminist Majority Leadership Alliance, International Women’s Day, etc.

With that being said,  it appears that regardless of one’s gender, society feels uncomfortable addressing this question. In an effort to provide society with an answer to this unsaid but often thought of question, writer and lawyer Ephrat Livni offers her personal insights on feminism.

In response to the rise of feminism, Ephrat asserts that she is “already equal and was born that way in 1972. No need to fight about it now”. In stating that she feels as if she is “already equal” Livni speaks for a growing population of women who believe that they are not marginalized in any way, shape, or form.

Livni suggests that in contrasting her abilities to her male counterparts, men “never seemed inherently better at anything but hauling hay”. As a consequence of the prevailing attitudes in the feminist movement, she states that she is “impatient with discussions about gender premised on the assumption that I’m [she is] struggling at an imaginary starting line”.

This statement is powerful as it reveals that Livni finds the “women are lacking” notion within the movement to be a disservice to women.

As a healthy alternative, Livni recommends that another approach to being a feminist is “to just be powerful”. She understands that gender based injustices are a reality yet, it shouldn’t be the prevailing concern of feminists. Instead, believes that they should address injustice as it comes instead of looking for it.

As a response to Ephrat Livni’s perspective on feminism, Patrick O’Leary writing from Hercampus.com offers his views toward the subject. O’Leary states that “there are women who claim to not believe in feminism because they do not experience any type of discrimination, but this is clearly not the situation for the majority of the female population”.

In this statement, it is clear that his stance on the feminist movement is undoubtedly positive. O’Leary believes that the movement is an overwhelming benefit to women as a whole.

He subscribes to the belief that feminism is “equality”, “empowerment”, and a movement that “every woman should strive to be a part of.” Such a statement is undeniably powerful yet, with Ephrat Livni and Patrick O’Leary’s strongly opposing views towards feminism, it begs the question, which view is accurate?

On one side of the spectrum, there is a population of men and women who believe that feminism is an extremist movement. These men and women find that feminism proves to be more harmful to society as a whole.

In fact, there are many who believe that feminism is an ideology centered around the hatred of men. This belief is grounded in a common misconception that circulates throughout society. Although it is a misconception, it is still widely believed and affects the credibility of the feminist movement as a whole.

On the contrary, men and women like O’Leary, Lady Gaga, and many others feel that feminism is beneficial to society as a whole. In order for society to reach a consensus on the previously aforementioned question, it is essential to understand what feminism truly is.

According to Sandra Kim writing from Everydayfeminism.com, “Feminism strives to end the discrimination, exploitation, and oppression of people due to their gender, sexual orientation, race, class, and other differences and supports people in being free to determine their own lives for themselves”.

In other words, feminism is not a movement centered around hating men or re-victimizing women in a “women are lacking” sense. Feminism is simply an effort to provide equality for those who believe that they are marginalized. It is a movement that allows one to have experience the concept of power in number when they feel vulnerable otherwise. Personally, I believe that feminism is a powerful tool that should be used when it is truly necessary. If a man or woman does experience sexism (and yes, men can experience sexism), they should feel comfortable enough to find resources and support groups that will aid them in finding their own power and strength.

I feel as if feminism is for everyone, and yes, at one point Sandra Kim asserts that in the history of feminism it “ overly represented issues of white, upper class women”. As a consequence, it has grown to include men, women, and everyone from all demographics.

With that being said, as most tools such as the power of the pen, feminism is sharp and can be used in an excessive and disconcertingly oppressive manner.

So yes, in my opinion, feminism is a benefit to society as long as it’s used for its intended purpose, to uplift and liberate everyone. 

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