Throughout history, women around the globe have been struggling to gain rights that are equal to men in the society. Women have been struggling to obtain respect, equality, and the same rights men have in the society. However, this has been difficult for them because of patriarchy, an ideology whereby, men are always considered to be superior to women, and have the right to control women. This thought has spread widely among the social structures of the society around the globe and this made it difficult for women to achieve their dreams of feminism. Nonetheless, through the feminist movements, women were able to get some equal rights to men, and are still struggling to get the rights most men take for granted. According to Butler, the struggle became even harder for women with color, especially, while dealing with racism and sexism (102). In order to fight and achieve these rights, and fight patriarchy, feminism as well as feminist theory was born. However, the history of feminism has many possible origins, but the most plausible explanation of its origin is the desire for reform in women’s lives.
Feminism is a theory or philosophy whereby women are to be equal economically, socially, and politically to men. It is a philosophy where women and their values and contributions are valued. In addition, it can also be described as a revolution whereby, men and women are to be equal without any boundaries. Women want to be respected by men in the society, and given a chance to explore their potentiality without any limitation and conditions whatsoever. Feminists are people who view the world as being equal regardless of age, gender, class and economic status. Feminism is a term that explains the struggle of women to gain equal rights to men and be respected people in the society. Additionally, according to Offen (128), feminism is an intellectual commitment and a movement that seeks justice for women. Through this movement, all kinds of sexism and prejudices against women are eliminated from the society. Additionally, feminism is a movement that fights to establish equal opportunities for both men and women in employment and education. Anyone can be a feminist; women, men, boys or even girls, as long as they are fighting for equal opportunities for women in the society. Through feminism, equality is brought in the society, and both men and women learn to respect each other.
Feminism did not start recently; women started fighting for equal rights many centuries ago. The feminist movements were greatly influenced by the French Revolution and the Revolutionary War in the late 1700s. It was during these periods that women stood out, and started fighting seriously to attain equal rights. A perfect example to explain this is through the likes of Cady Stanton and Lucretia Mott, who organized for the Seneca Falls Convention after they were denied seats in the Anti-Slavery Convention in London, in 1840 (Offen 145). They saw the need for equal gender rights. The main advocates for feminism were Susan B. Anthony, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, and Lucy Stone. They were supported by Maria Stewart, Sojourner Truth, and Frances E. W. Harper, who fought for the rights of the black woman. In addition, other feminist were Susan B. Anthony, Olympia Brown, and Helen Pitts, and the list is countless. These women realized the need of women having equal opportunities with men because they had the potential. They were very active in the feminist movement from the beginning to the end after they saw the need for equal right for men and women.
The feminism movement was started in order to make women have equal rights in the society just like men. Men had dominated the society and thus giving women no chance to expand and control their lives. Their place was at home, and to take care of the children. In addition, they were not allowed to work or rather have careers like men and even equal educational opportunities like men. Women realized that, the men were dominating and thus suppressing them, yet they have the right to the same equal opportunities, just like men. This is when they decided that, they can no longer keep quiet and remain housekeepers as men exploit them, they decided to fight for equal rights and opportunities that men had in the society. The American woman was limited in every aspect of her life, from family to the work place, and was only to devote her life to homemaking. Those who worked were limited to jobs like teachers, secretaries or nurses. This called for the formation of feminist movements in the 1960s and 70s to fight for equal rights for women. The movements were formed to fight against inequality in employment and access to better jobs and remuneration. Inequality was the main cause of feminism. In addition, women were fighting against different forms of violence against women, for instance, sexual violence, domestic violence and workplace discrimination. Other causes of feminist movements are educational rights, women suffrage, fight for reproductive rights, equal pay, just to mention but a few. The beginning of the feminist movement was as a result of women fighting for what they believed in and sought to have in the future, equality between men and women and equal education and employment opportunities.
Women are potent symbols of identity throughout the world. They are wives, mothers, sisters and even caretakers, and this is evident in all parts of the world including in the Middle East. The role of women in the society has greatly changed over the past years. Women are now becoming a more perspective driven individuals, but in the earlier years, they were only seen as homemakers, and not in the workplace. Initially, women were only required to stay at home taking care of the children and other household duties while their men go to school and work. However, things have changed since the emergence of feminism movements. Women were once seen as only needed to bear children and take care of household activities such as cooking and cleaning, while their husband would provide for the family. It was common for a man to go out and provide for his family while the woman would stay at home and take care of all the necessary household chores and children.
Feminism has changed gender roles in the Arab society. Feminism has led to the integration of women in the Arab society. Women in the Middle East have taken and are still taking active roles in gender debates and socio-economic struggles in their nations (Tucker 56). Feminist thoughts through literature and media have stirred a number of women to fight for their rights as Arab women. Before the feminism movement, Arab women were viewed as subordinate and unequal to men. Those from the elite class were seen as dolls that were to be glamorously dressed and not allowed to work nor even drive themselves in their husbands’ cars. The Arab women lived in a male dominate society whereby, they had no say in their marriages, and they were never allowed to question their husbands authority. However, through feminism, the change in status of the women from the Middle East took place.
Women from the Middle East were able to achieve emancipation, after they became part of the patriarchal society. They became more independent as the feminist paved way for the liberation, and the emancipation of women by earning them the right to education, employment, and getting respect from me. Initially, women were not allowed to pursue their studies, they only got basic education, but through feminism, they were able to achieve the right to education, and employment, just like their Arab men.
Even though the Arab women are succeeding in life, the Arabic society still defines them as unequal. Most societies have labeled men and women and the Arab society is not an exception. However, the Arab women are still fighting for their rights in the society, especially after they got the chance to have better education, just like their men (Abou-Habib 143). In addition, they are also rising in corporate establishments where men have always been in control and this means, they are close to bringing equality to their nations.
Currently, women in the Arab society are more independent and are never solely independent on their men as it was before. Initially, the women from the Middle East were dependent on their men socially, economically, and for social security, but now, they have education, work, and are allowed to make decisions in their households. Through feminism, it resulted to a more civilized and respectful relationship between the Arab women and their husbands. Abu-Lughod notes that, “the relationship that once resembled a military or a political relationship is now characterized by greater affection –or at least a greater demonstration of it- and more mutual respect” (98). Feminism has played an integral part in the lives of many Arab women. Currently, they are even allowed to hold positions the government and even head public, private and international organizations. It is clear that the role of Arab women in the society has evolved since they now participate in riots and revolutions and everything that pertain their country, since their fight for equal rights with men was achieved.
The feminism theory was established to define, institute, and defend the equal rights of women socially, economically, and politically. Most feminist differ in the goals, causes, and the intentions of feminism depending on their culture, and country. However, it is argued that, all revolutions and movements that strive to obtain equal rights for women should be considered as feminist movements. The first wave of feminism in the Middle East occurred between the 19th and early 20th century. According to Ismail, many Arab women participated in the feminism movement (145). Initially, the women saw Islam as the problem in their nations. The laws that were discriminating women were religious law and some of them went to an extent of denouncing their religion. After a while, some women felt that it was not right to give up their social and cultural identities and decided to use a different perspective to fight for their rights other that giving up their religion.
The second wave in the Middle East took place between the 1950s and 1960s. This is when the roles of women in the society changed. The second wave feminism was the pivotal point in women’s lives. The women got the right to equal access to education, especially colleges and universities. According to Saadawi (109), he women realized that, they can still fight their rights while they embrace their religion. After getting education, they found out that, they can use the knowledge they had to fight for their rights in the society. In the 20th century, women were able to achieve civil equality. Most women were able to work outside their homes. Initially, they were only allowed to do domestic work and factory labor, but at the end of the first wave, they were able to have the opportunity to sit in parliament and do jobs that were mainly preserved for men in the society. In addition, women started leading schools and serving in school boards and local bodies, they also got the chance to attend medical schools and take professions that were only preserved for men.
In the feminist movement, men and women wish the world to be a place with equal opportunities for all sexes without any boundaries which are discrimination against age, sex, sexual orientation, and economic status. Most feminist view the world as unequal, and their struggle is to eliminate the gender gap, and the idea that men are superior to women. This is the main reason why feminist movements were established, to create an equal society where all genders have equal opportunities in everything.
The Third Wave Feminism began in the early 1990s, and it was as a result of the failures of the second wave. Just like all feminisms, the third feminism focused on the political, social, economic, and personal empowerment of women in the society. The Third Wave Feminism focused on women empowerment in the contemporary world, and less on activism. The women were encouraged on personal empowerment and action in order to make a change in the society. After the third wave, feminism became well known in the society, and up to now, women are still fighting for equal rights in the society, since many women have joined the feminism movements.
The effects of feminism can still be felt in the lives of women today. Today, feminism is as it was some years back, still a movement for political, social, and economic equality for men and women. Feminism has caused the life of women in the society to change in big ways. Through feminism, women have been able to attain equality in all aspects of their lives in the society, including employment, education, health, and many more. The Arab women wanted the right to education, just like men and they were able to achieve it. Gocek, and Balaghi adds that, the women wanted to leave their houses, to go out and make a living and support their families, and through feminism movements; they were able to achieve this opportunity (2008). Even though inequality and discrimination against women still exists, it is at reduced levels as women feminists have not given up in fighting for their rights as women in the society.
The feminist movement has been the primary reason for the equality that women are experiencing today. Today feminism is just the same as the old feminism, but the fight has changed, since women were able to obtain most of the things they were fighting for. The big issues of feminism have already been dealt with, but there is still much that needs to be done to stop discrimination against women around the globe. Women were able to acquire many equal opportunities like men, but the issue of discrimination against woken still remains in the society. Many reports indicate that, many women suffer from different forms of discrimination in their workplaces, school, and even the society (Ghoussoub 17). In addition, many women are prone to domestic violence and modern feminism deals with struggling to stop violence against women and any forms of discrimination against them. Today’s feminism is all about the fight against discrimination against women and domestic violence. Initially, feminism was to create equality in the society, and get women out of the house in order to become productive members of the society through education and employment. Now that women have been able to obtain this, men are now discriminating and undermining them as they strive to excel.
Feminism has not changed today, but its focus has changed. Many women today have better education and employment opportunities just like men, as the early feminist fought for them. Now, after getting all these, men are now discriminating them and at times abusing them in order to undermine their hard work and potentiality. Sally notes that, men are doing all they can to undermine the success women have been able to acquired, however, today’s feminism is struggling to protect women and girls from domestic violence, sexual harassment, and rape as well as discrimination.
Today, the feminist movement has grown and is still growing as women around the globe have joined hands in the fight against inequality. Even though a lot has changed, all feminists, despite the wave they claim to fit in, are still fighting for the equality of women and men around the globe. According to Iman, the feminist movement has come a long way, and it is continuing to grow as many women join the movements. Even though many of the demands of the feminist have not been met, a lot has been achieved, and the fight is still on.
In conclusion, women have made a critical improvement to the circumstances in their lives through feminism. Primarily, men used to run everything as they considered themselves superior to women, but through feminism movements, women have been able to acquire equal rights to men, and are still striving to acquire more rights that men take for granted. Feminism is a philosophy that has helped women to acquire equal rights in the society. In addition, feminism is gaining equal opportunities and rights for both men and women, and allowing women to have control of their lives, and the women have achieved this. Feminism had a huge impact on the lives and roles of women in the society. Many Arab women got sick of the strict home life that had been implicated on them by men. They got tired of staying at home and taking care of the family and domestic chores as their only work and decided enough is enough, things had to change. Women wanted equality between men and women in addition to equal opportunities in education, and employment opportunities. Feminism has played a great role in the everyday role of women in the society. The whole ideal life of women in the Arabic society has changed dramatically, as women have equal opportunities with men in the society, and are respected compared to how they were respected ion the 18th century. In spite of what people think of feminists, the feminist movement has produced change in the modern society, including women’s suffrage, more nearly equitable pay with men, the right to initiate divorce proceedings and where there is fairness, better access to education, and the right to own property, in addition to the right of women to make individual decisions regarding pregnancy, and abortion. Today, feminist movements are still in force and continue fighting for the rights of women. Feminists in the past have achieved women more rights and equality, therefore, feminism is a necessary value for today’s women and the fight is still on. Women’s roles in society have greatly changed and will continue to change in the future.
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