May 28, 2017

Freedom in Feminism: The Fair Choice

Photo courtesy of Tim Walker/Vanity Fair

by Kelsey Dass ’18

Opinion Staff

It is not about what you do; it is about what you want to do.

Since the feminist movement of 1960s and ’70s, society’s ideas regarding feminism have changed ever so frequently. Every person will define feminism as something different. Many say it is equality among genders, others say growth in career, and some, including actress Emma Watson, believe it is about choice.

We have seen continuous growth in feminism since the ’60s. However, I believe that we are approaching some obstacles that have begun to slow our momentum—first among those obstacles being the media.

The feminist era of the ’60s and ’70s was a time of liberation and advancement for women’s equal rights and thought. The women of this era were not solely fighting for their personal rights. They were fighting for their daughters’ and their grandaughters’ rights, so we, modern-day females, could grow up in a world where we had the same possibilities as our brothers.

The women of this movement made choices that they felt reflected their independence. One of the most famous choices was the “Bra Burning,” where women would congregate and light their bras on fire, or simply walk around wearing no bra at all. This action truly opened up the focus on the need for change. They desired to break the stereotype that kept their societal roles in a confined box.

This box looked a lot like marrying young, caring for children, and supporting their husbands. I am not suggesting that caring for and supporting a family is not an admirable life, because it most certainly is.

It is not about what you are doing exactly; it is about having the freedom as a female to make those choices on your own.

The media has grown dramatically over the past forty years, and while propaganda and biased opinions existed during the feminist movement era, it is completely different now. The biggest crime now is that people within the media have utilized their freedom in order to take certain ideals out of context.

Watson, a well-respected feminist, was recently featured on the cover of Vanity Fair. Media critics expressed their disappointment in her choice to pose for a revealing picture and stated that she “betrayed her feminist ideals” by doing so.

When people in media make these statements, they undo a little piece of the hard work done by the female activists of the ’60s and ’70s. They draw a tight box around us, and tell us and the rest of the world that we were wrong for stepping outside of it.

What she did certainly has nothing to do with feminism. As Watson noted, “Feminism is about giving women choice.” She was not forced to do that cover, she wanted to.

The problem with the media is they take one image  with of what feminism looks like, and they publicize that image. They provide that single image enough positive reinforcement to make it “the law” in the minds of the people.

Therefore, when a respected feminist brings a different image to the table, they are criticized. Rather than make adjustments to revolutionize their thinking, they make irrational comments in order to distort the image, because it does not fit in their box.

While Watson’s cover on Vanity Fair was revealing, this also does not suggest that feminism is ostentatious. Feminism can be conservative, it can be boisterous, it can be quiet, it can be covered in clothes, and it can be completely naked.

Our feminist mothers and grandmothers wanted us to know that we have the choice to be whatever we want to be.

We have the choice—to be a feminist and to be ourselves.

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