Why the feminist movement is still relevant today


Women protesting in the recent women's march. Photo courtest of Kaya Ortega.

Myah Phillips, Copy Editor

In recent years, the feminist movement has gained momentum as women and men alike have marched to end the misleading labels that are typically given to girls and women, such as “weak,” “incapable” and “inferior.” Many FUHS students attended these marches and spoke of the importance of the feminist movement and why society must continue to fight for its cause.

Theater teacher Michael Despars wants to eliminate the negative connotations that surround feminism.

“I think that it’s hard to define feminism because in the world there’s a negative connotation about what that movement is and I think people who define themselves as very masculine take feminism to be something that is very aggressive or something that should be downplayed,” Despars said. “I think it’s important for those people to know that there still can be differences in opinion, but we can still find a way to coexist and fight for the greater good. We need to come together and try to solve a problem, and the march is about providing everyone with a voice so we can create coexistence.”  

Senior Rebecca Tell agrees with Despars and wants to clarify any misconceptions people may have about feminism.

“People believe feminism is a movement advocating one sex having power over another, but the actual definition of feminism is believing in the political, social and economical equality of the sexes,” Tell said. “Feminism is about intersectionality. Feminism is about supporting black rights, trans rights, and everyone that has been discriminated against.”

Despars wishes for a day where equality becomes commonplace.

“We’re still fighting issues that we’ve been fighting for hundreds of years, and until we can get to a place where there is some sort of equalitywhere we accept people for who they are, meaning the quality of who they are as a person not their gender, color or sexualitythere will always be a need for movements like feminism and the women’s march,” Despars said.

For science teacher Christine Irwin, feminism promotes women as human beings rather than objects.

“Talking about [women] ‘bleeding’ or their body parts and rating them from 1 to 10– is [why] feminism [is] still relevant,” Irwin said. “We deserve to be treated equal. I just want to be treated as a person, not a thing.”

Sophomore Rosemary Kehoe also believes that feminism is about providing women with the opportunity to be seen as who they want to be.

“A speaker [Natalie Portman] at the most recent women’s march, said that she did her first movie when she was 13. She got fan mail that talked about her breasts and how sexually attractive she was, which led her to try to make herself bookish and unassuming so people would stop seeing her in that light,” Kehoe said. “And I think feminism is still relevant today because, as women, we should be seen in the light we see ourselves in and not be defined by how others see our bodies. It should be our choice how we’re perceived.”

The feminist movement strives to end sexual harassment.

“We walk down the street and get cat-called, and with this new generation receiving unsolicited pictures from people, like why would it be okay to do that? It’s all the airbrushing of women and the beauty pageants, I think that as a society we need to recognize that women are not objects. You would think that being in the 21st Century we’d have been done with that now, but we’re not,” Irwin said.

Kehoe doesn’t identify as a feminist, but supports the movement’s aims to help women discover their true potential.

“I think feminism is about women being able to emotionally believe they can do what they want to do and not have other people bring us down,” Kehoe said.

Despars believes this applies to all Americans.

“We need to realize that even if we are different, every one of us deserves to live [a life] without judgment based on the way we live our livesunless I’m hurting you physically or mentallybecause I’m a contributor to society [and] I have the right to live an American life. I should have the same opportunities as anyone else who pays taxes and contributes to American society,” Despars said.

In summation, the feminist movement is not something to shove to the side, but instead something that necessitates support.

“Women who don’t see women’s rights as something that needs fighting for, which was me a week before the march, I think is a really big problem. If not everyone understands the problems and everything that is going on then we can’t really advocate for women’s rights because some people don’t know what you’re asking them to fight for,” Kehoe said. “And, I think there’s a stigma that if you’re a feminist then you have to be extreme, that there’s no middle ground, and I think that’s something we should make known is okay.”

In a time where discrimination is a growing issue, we need to band together for equality.

“We have this history of people and humanity coming together to fight for things and it doesn’t matter race, gender or color, so I think feminism is about being inclusive and fighting for change,” Despars said. “It’s about saying ‘this is who we are and these are the issues that are affecting us as people.’