Feminism; does it have a place in 21st Century Britain?

A different take on the popular topic of gender inequality and feminism, focusing on todays popular culture. The youtube video gives some greater historical background of the cause if anyone is interested. COPYRIGHT.

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1. Feminism; does it have a place in 21st Century Britain?

 

A crisp June morning in 1913 and spirits run high as crowds are gathered to watch the kings horse run in the famous Epsom Derby. However, the kings horse did not finish the race; instead a woman was killed, and the world as a whole was ultimately changed. Whilst the conflict of the first world war was starting to near a resolution, the battle for women's rights was only just reaching a beginning.

 

Fast forward one hundred years, and to a whole new society. Women have long been given the right to vote, work, and their own legal rights, and a whole new definition has been given to the world ‘Female.’ No longer slaves to the ironing board, women have rid themselves of their chains; ironically you only have to look at Miley Cyrus in her latest video provocatively wrapping herself around one to understand this. Women are learning to embrace their nature as confident sexual beings and from my point of view this is no bad thing. The Wrecking Ball video, despite being overly- sexualized and inciting, seems to me by no means degrading. Instead, it feels more as a form of empowerment; at least Miley is confident enough to embrace her body and undertake something male rappers have been allowed to do in the hip hop industry for the past twenty years. This therefore begins to raises questions as to whether the classical form of feminism, something which flourished under a hindered 20th century Britain, really does have a place in society today, or whether it is something we simply need to bury, like we have done with so many other national struggles once the battle for equality had been won.

 

21st Century feminists would beg to differ with my opinion. They call Miley’s expression of her womanhood offensive and derogatory; even the cultural phenomenon Twilight has come under the attack of demeaning females, due to female protagonist Bella Swan measuring her own self worth by the men in her life. Now for me, Bella is something more of an inspiration; a tough girl fighting off the bad guys in the name of good, despite the will of her over protective father. However I presume most teenage girls struggle to even find slight similarities between Bella’s situation of being torn between a werwolf and a vampire and their own lives in the first place, let alone apply a feminist analytical meaning to it; instead we must remember most people find enjoyment in Twilight as a work of fiction and a world of make believe. This feminist insistence of women being constantly humiliated by popular books and films such as Twilight actually seems to insight more of a patronizing attitude towards the ‘poor defenseless females’ of today, than the films do in the first place. 

 

And what about the radical feminists? Those who hope to achieve equality by taking their tops off in the streets and screaming insults at men, or sitting in on beauty pageants and throwing heels at contestants? You may argue this is only a marginal extremist number of a huge organization; however to me, that kind of behavior appears strikingly more degrading than a group of women simply gathering together to celebrate their beauty. Pageants are a form of female empowerment; taking your top off in the middle of Piccadily circus is most certainly not. It seems in the fight for gender equality, the definition of feminism has become blurred causing more complications than the actual issue itself; believing your a victim of oppression is ultimately going to make inequality worse, and instead we need to take a step back and examine the true meaning of feminism if it is to have a place in 21st Century Britain. 

 

Now i’m not saying that we should eradicate feminism all together; it is a worthy cause and  at the very least for the sake of those who died, we should remember and respect it. Like any other ideology, whether it be racism or nationalism, as long as there is a women suffering in the world, feminism will continue to exist. However, in the words of Annie Lennox: ‘Men need to understand, and women too, what feminism is really about’, and this epitomizes my view. The feminism of the 1900s is not built to withstand the nature of society today. Yes, there is still inequality which needs to be tackled; however this will not be achieved by taking your underwear off, or launching a full scale attack on a popular teenage book and film. Modern day Feminism is about understanding your own rights and obligations in a balanced and cultural society, and accepting gender roles instead of trying to fight them. Emily Davison did the fighting for us and suffered the consequences, meaning we don’t need to; feminism today would be put to a better use by remembering how far the struggle has come and contributing to its natural progress instead of causing more issues and riots in todays society than there already are. 

 

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