the misconception of feminism in the 21st century.

“the most important thing women can do in their lives is work, so they can be independent. work was not perfect, nor was it a solution to all problems, but it was the “first condition for women’s independence,” according to simone de beauvoir,

whom i was tremendously affected by when i first started my academic studies in the fields of feminist literary criticism, and feminism as a movement, a path that i will endlessly explore. de beauvoir was a brilliant, complex, controversial, even troubled figure all her life, a philosopher, despite how hesitant she was to call herself one, and a feminist in the 1970s when it was much more difficult to reconcile all of these things. upon her decision to come forward as a feminist, simone used her platform to advocate for women’s rights, but she was aware that calling out for change wouldn’t be enough — nor writing about it. on april 5, 1971, in france, simone gathered together hundreds of other women who were willing to come forward and testify to legalize abortion, an act that had been a crime since 1810, during the reign of napoleon. a movement that was born to speak the hard truths that society was refusing to hear, these women signed the “manifeste de 343” the manifesto went so far to reach the highest levels of government — written by intellectual simone de beauvoir. in less than four years of the “manifeste de 343” publication, the mister of health, simone veil presented a law on nov. 26, 1974, to the national assembly (98% male at the time) that would legalize abortion.

growing up reading simone de beauvoir, among many other literary female figures, such as virginia woolf has influenced the way i look at society, and my existence as a woman altogether. spending most of my formative years studying, and working in this field has deepen my understanding of feminism as a movement, also having to spend two years of my life working on an academic project about the movement has giving me an insightful look to a lot of matters that i wouldn’t gain in any other circumstances. i understood the core massage of feminism, a word that has been under the fire for so many decades, a movement that wants to establish, and achieve the political, economic, personal, and social equality of the sexes, to put an end to the patriarchal society — males dominating women. therefore, feminism has never been against the other gender, according to the core message of the movement.

throughout the history that was what many feminists tried to establish — equality for both sexes, fully being aware of the differences between the sexes. a variety of movements of feminist ideology have developed over the year, “mainstream feminism” a term that has been used a lot lately, a movement that has dropped the core message of feminism, once a meaningful movement is now plagued by individuals who prioritize female superiority over gender quality. i can state everything wrong with “mainstream feminism” besides losing the sight of the ultimate goal, it started for, is the fact that mainstream feminists are asking for equality all day long online, yet bringing the other gender down is their life goal — let alone how nothing can stop them from bringing their fellow women down, trying to up-left themselves. whining how much of systematic oppression they face, while being the first voices to take their own gender by the hand to leave it mid-way to shatter, using the umbrella of “constructive criticism” as an excuse for their own failures.

regardless of how many times i wanted to take off this armor, to not wanting to be identified as a feminist, because of what mainstream feminism has done. but every time, i remember how many sacrifices had been made by the fundamental rocks of this movement, that’s when it hits me that mainstream feminism and mainstream feminists are only for the mainstream, whereas our role as feminists is to work on ground to change the systematic oppression and empower so many lives. 

written by Heba Elhaddad

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