Feminism is something that comes up in the news and pop culture a lot and it can seem incredibly confusing. Where do we start? Why are there so many different types? What do they all believe? Hopefully, I can shed some light on some of the different branches of feminism and what they typically believe, as well as some of the more confusing words used when talking about feminism.
Patriarchy: patriarchy is the idea that society is dominated by men. In a patriarchal society, the government and businesses are completely controlled and dominated by men. Feminists believe that the patriarchy hurts women because the men in powerful positions want to keep women down and ensure women aren’t in power.
Oppression: oppression is a severe form of discrimination where a minority group or person will be treated cruelly by the majority group.
Mainstream feminism: this is the most common and widely followed branch of feminism. Mainstream feminists believe in workplace equality, pay equality, the same rights for both men and women and are against the patriarchy (male-dominated society). However many people call this type of feminism “white feminism” or “pocket feminism”, implying that mainstream feminists don’t fight for women of colour, queer women or other minorities (however many mainstream feminists do fight for women of colour and queer women etc).
Ecofeminism: ecofeminists believe that both women and the environment are oppressed (beaten down) by the patriarchy. Ecofeminists will typically fight against anything that could hurt the environment, as they believe that women and the environment are linked together. Ecofeminism is a much more spiritual type of feminism in the belief that women and nature are connected through their oppression.
Radical feminism: radical feminism thinks of men as the “enemy”, and thinks that women can only truly be free from oppression if men are removed from powerful positions and replaced with women. Radical feminists are often called “feminazis” in the media, and are also sometimes known as “radfems”. A branch of radical feminism is “trans-exclusionary radical feminists”, or TERFs. TERFs don’t believe that trans women are ‘real women’ and that trans women have no place in feminism. This is a harmful belief, which is why many TERFs are unwelcome in all safe spaces in the LGBT+ community.
So, now that you know some of the more popular branches of feminism and some of the vocabulary associated with the topic, you may want to know how you can be more involved with feminism!
If you are at university, most places will have societies representing different branches and different aims of feminism. They will be filled with like-minded people who you can learn from and have important discussions and debates with. Some societies will head up community projects, work directly with the university to help women and hold events to promote feminism.
Go to pride! If you feel safe, march with the LGBT+ community. As some women can make trans people and sapphic women feel uncomfortable or unwelcome, it is important to show your support to the community if that is what you feel. Trans people need our support now more than ever, and showing up at pride with a banner/placard stating your support can mean a lot.
Educate yourself. Feminism isn’t just the gender pay gap and maternity rights. Feminism includes fighting against things like female genital mutilation (FGM), rape and sexual assault, domestic violence, abortion rights being taken away or any rights being taken away.
Feminism is important, and having feminism and being able to protest and fight for what we want is a privilege and we should remember that. Not all women have that privilege. Remember to challenge harmful views wherever you go, and protect women of colour, queer women and disabled women as much as you can where they need it. If you have any other questions about feminism or my own personal opinions about feminism, please feel free to message me!
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