Feminist activism pertains to the seeking of social justice on all gender issues (particularly concerning what can be done to overcome inequality), and social justice is the idea of creating societies that are based on the principles of equality, human rights, and human dignity. Feminists work to bring about change through awareness of social injustices concerning women inequality and empowerment, and they bring to light many topics and issues women face.
Feminists work to address themes including media literacy, health and beauty, and women’s work. Media literacy is the application of critical thinking to media and pop culture. The stereotypes are known—the supermom, the sex kitten, the nasty corporate climber. Whatever the role, television, film, and popular magazines are full of images of women and girls who are “typically white, desperately thin, and made up to the hilt—even after slaying a gang of vampires or dressing down a Greek phalanx” (Media Awareness Network, 2010). Many would agree that some strides have been made in how the media portray women in film, television, and magazines and that the last twenty years have also seen a growth in the presence and influence of women in media behind the scenes. However, female stereotypes continue to thrive in the media we consume every day. There is media bias such as females usually being represented in human interest stories rather than in business, sports, or foreign affairs. Media can really limit the empowerment of women and girls in society, and it can directly/indirectly promote oppression.
Feminist movements focus on the health and beauty aspect of women as well. There are social constructions of sexuality, sex work, sex trafficking, pornification, objectification, sexual double standards, and eroticization of inequality which all aim to degrade girls and women. There are beauty standards, ideals, and mythical norms which stereotype women and ultimately oppress them. The truth is, however, that images of female beauty are unattainable for all but a very small number of women. Researchers generating a computer model of a woman with Barbie-doll proportions, for example, found that her back would be too weak to support the weight of her upper body, and her body would be too narrow to contain more than half a liver and a few centimeters of bowel. A real woman built that way would suffer from chronic diarrhea and eventually die from malnutrition. Still, a number of real life women and girls who seek a similarly underweight body is epidemic, and they can suffer equally devastating health consequences (Alkon, 2012).
A third hot topic for the feminist movement includes the idea of women’s work -domesticity versus workforce. Wife stigma corresponds with the fond and endearing words of a mother, tasks and jobs, and institutional expectations but also with insults, slurs, and stereotypes. For example the double-bind of marriage is that either the wife is a ball and chain or that she is an old maid. Traditionally, marriages involve a male proposal and leadership. Women are meant to be kept in their place and in charge of child bearing and rearing. In addition, if a woman remains unmarried, she is labeled as “on the shelf,” but an unmarried man instead is a bachelor and eligible (Amott and Mattheai, 1991). Even though women are now more than ever entering the workforce, they are still facing problems like the bootstrap myth, the Queen Bee myth, unequal distribution of wealth, and gendered double standards. Feminists fight for these discriminations to cease by creating awareness and continually promoting fairness and equality.
Overall, feminists fight the injustices associated with gender inequality and the empowerment of women. Feminism is based on spreading the word and bringing to light the stereotypes and forms of discrimination that women face; it highlights the issues of media literacy, health and beauty, and women’s work, just to name a few. In time, the awareness these movements have created will turn into actions that fight for women causes and bring about the changes feminists seek.
Alkon, A. (2012). The truth about beauty. Retrieved from http://www.psychologytoday.com/articles/201010/the-truth-about-beauty
Amott, T. and Mattheai, J. (1991). The multi-cultural economic history of women in the united states. Retrieved from http://books.google.com/books?id=aZxSTufVB00C&pg=PA300&lpg=PA300&dq=domesticity+versus+workforce&source=bl&ots+YoxNtmUs_i&sig=hfeJhr4d8VTBY_WR6OCfHH6g0Xk&hl=en&sa=X&ei=n0ufT4XSB4Y8gSVz82jAQ&ved=0CD0Q6AEwBQ#v=onepage&q=domesticity%20versus%20workforce&f=false
Media Awareness Network. (2010). Media portrayals of girls and women. Retrieved from http://www.media-awareness.ca/english/issues/stereotyping/women_and_girls/