Feminism, In many of the letters he wrote to

Feminism, although not officially termed “feminism” until the 1890s, has been extremely prominent throughout history. Feminism can be traced back to the beginning of the human race: Eve. Throughout the Bible, there are many accounts of women, such as Esther, Ruth, Mary, etc., who do extraordinary things, such as rule countries, give up everything they have for what they believe in, fight for their lives, and even cut off the heads of their enemies in order to save people. There have been many very powerful female rulers that have led armies and governed countries. On top of all of this, these women have raised children and cared for their husbands. Yet the world saw, and much of the world still sees, women as inferior to men. Although strongly ignored and dismissed, the history and progression of feminism has shown us so many women who have valiantly fought for what they believed and changed the course of history through their bravery. Throughout history, the public activities of women have been ignored. The only political power that people have recognized is the influence women have on men and families. Their power has been solely in the background. “After more than 30 years, this traditional view has been challenged and the remarkable diversity of women’s public political activities have been made visible” (Moses 757). An example of this is the life of Abigail Adams. She is best known for her role as the wife of the 2nd President of the United States, and as the mother of the 6th. She is also very famous for the letters she sent to her husband while he was away doing political business, and she was at home raising their children. However, it is lesser known that she also strongly supported the American Revolution, women’s rights, and education, especially for women. She also was strongly against slavery. In one of the letters she wrote to John, she said something that sticks in every feminist mind. She said “Well I suppose we will have to have a new code of laws and when you write those laws, remember the ladies. Do not put such unlimited power into the hands of the husbands. Remember all men would be tyrants if they could.” Nobody really understood the power she held as the President’s wife. She did more than just support him, stand with him, and raise their children. John asked her for advice and help constantly on political issues. In many of the letters he wrote to her while he was away, he said “You must come, you must come. I cannot do this without you! Come, I can’t do this! You must come!” He was completely dependent on her. In Abigail’s will, she left some of what she had to her two surviving children, both sons, but she didn’t give anything to her grandsons, nephews, or male servants. Instead, everything else she owned went to her daughters-in-law, granddaughters, nieces, and female servants. Abigail Adams knew the inequality there was between men and women and she did what she could to fight it. Another example of a woman whose power was in the background is Coretta Scott King, wife of Martin Luther King, Jr. Even before she met Martin Luther King, Jr., she strived for what she wanted and what she believed. She graduated valedictorian from her high school, received a B.A. in music and education from Antioch College, and earned a degree in voice and violin from Boston’s New England Conservatory of Music. After she and Martin Luther King, Jr. were married, she wanted to take a public leadership role dedicated to the Civil Rights Movement, but her husband wanted her to focus on raising their children. However, that didn’t stop her. She made speeches, gave Freedom Concerts, worked to get the Civil Rights Act of 1964 passed, and stood by her husband’s side during the struggle for civil rights, all while raising their children. Coretta King traveled the world speaking out about racial justice, economic justice, women’s and children’s rights, the needs of the homeless and the poor, religious freedom, health care, full-employment, educational opportunities, nuclear disarmament, and environmental justice. She supported pro-democracy movements world-wide and consulted with many world leaders, including Corazon Aquino, Kenneth Kaunda, and Nelson Mandela. After her husband’s assassination she founded the Martin Luther King, Jr. Center for Nonviolent Social Change and fought for her husband’s birthday to legally become a national holiday. Coretta King was an extremely inspirational woman who did good continually, despite her work being overlooked and overshadowed by that of her husband. Feminism is about equality and the women who have been fighting for that equality have been doing so for a very long time. “Feminism is a principle that promotes the idea that women and men are equal and so deserve the same rights and opportunities economically, socially, and politically” (Benson). These women have continued to fight for equality despite having failed many times and are are still failing at certain aspects of it. At the first-ever women’s convention in Seneca Falls, New York, in 1848, Elizabeth Cady Stanton presented the Declaration of Sentiments. That declaration demanded that women be allowed the right to vote both locally and nationally. The Declaration of Sentiments was finally passed seventy-two years later making it the Nineteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. It was three years after that at the anniversary of the first women’s convention that Alice Paul introduced the “Lucretia Mott Amendment” more commonly known as the Equal Rights Amendment. It stated very simply that “men and women shall have equal rights throughout the United States and every place subject to its jurisdiction.” That was brought to Congress in that year and has continued to be presented at every session since. It finally passed both the House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate as the Twenty-Seventh Amendment to the U.S. Constitution in 1972, however it failed to acquire ratification. As of 2016, it had only been ratified by thirty-five states, three short of the required thirty-eight states. ¬†Along with the right to vote, the women from 1848 to 1920, referred to as first-wave feminists, also fought for the same professional and educational opportunities that men had, the rights to own property and sign contracts, and the prohibition of alcohol, “which they linked to domestic violence” (“Feminism” Opposing Viewpoints). Women from that period of time were seen as both socially and intellectually inferior to men. They were not allowed the same educational opportunities that men received. “When Emma Willard Submitted a plan for improving female education to the New York State Legislature in 1818, a joke immediately began making the rounds — “Next thing you know they’ll be educating cows” (Truman 21). It was heavily frowned upon if women wanted or were doing things that were thought to be only for men. When women’s rights activist, Lydia Marie Child, wrote a book in 1824, her female acquaintances told her that she could no longer be seen as a lady. It wasn’t until the early 1970s, when Title IX of the Higher Education Act was passed, that women were no longer excluded from educational programs receiving federal financial assistance on the sole basis that she was a woman. “If a woman made it far enough to graduate from college, she soon found that there were very few careers open to her” (“Progressive and Radical Women”). During World War II while men were enlisted in the Armed Forces, women were finally given their chance at work. “Over 35% of women and nearly 25% of married women were employed between 1940 and 1945” (“Feminism” Student Resources). First-wave feminists saw this as a huge success for their movement for equal rights. However, when the war ended and the men returned home, the women were pushed out of the work force once again. Although women are now allowed the opportunity to work and to have careers more than they were before, there is still inequality between men and women in the work industry. Women today are being paid around 20% less than their male counterparts. All of these are still issues in today’s society, contrary to popular opinion. When asked what she had been denied in life solely because she was a woman, Donna Hawxhurst, Training Coordinator at the Women’s Resource Center at the University of Utah, said “Full access to participation in sports, higher education opportunities, jobs, and respect, to name just a few.” Although it is 2018, women are still being denied many things that men get. A huge progression in the feminist movement that is more recent is the impact that social media has on women globally. “Social platforms have enabled women across the world to share their stories and experiences with sexism and assault” (“Feminism” Opposing Viewpoints). In October of 2017 a two-word hashtag spread virally encouraging women to share their stories of sexual assault and to know that they are not alone. This became known as the #MeToo Movement. This movement began when actress Alyssa Milano spoke out about being sexually assaulted by film producer, Harvey Weinstein. She encouraged women to share this campaign as a way of spreading awareness by tweeting, “If all the women who have been sexually harassed or assaulted wrote ‘Me too.’ as a status, we might give people a sense of the magnitude of the problem.” Soon after this movement started spreading, gymnasts on the U.S. Women’s Gymnastics team started coming forward about being sexually assaulted by their doctor, Larry Nassar. After more than 150 allegations of sexual assault came out against Nassar, he was found guilty of sexaully assaulting girls from the age as young as six years old and was sentenced to up to 175 years in prison. Women are also using social media to protest against President Trump who has been caught on tape bragging about molesting women. Perhaps one of the most important ways that women are using social media is to promote the idea of body positivity. Women around the world are using social platforms to encourage other women to love their bodies and be in control of what happens to them.As put by an article in Gale in 2017:Social Media has become a place for fourth-wave feminists to promote a more inclusive definition of beauty, sharing body-positive images, drawing attention to sexist advertisements and marketing, and advocating for more realistic depictions of women in the media. Moreover, social media has functioned as a commons where women have shared personal frustrations with the unique challenges they face as women (“Feminism” Opposing Viewpoints). These women have been fighting against rape culture and for the basic rights and respect they deserve as human beings. In conclusion, throughout hundreds of years, women have fought for what they believed in. Because of these women, the world has progressed and grown in so many positive ways. Although much of the world sees feminists as “man-haters” and still continues to support violence against them, the feminists fight back. As put by Donna Hawxhurst, “Feminism means not only cutting the pie in equal pieces but making a new pie that dismantles the patriarchy, white male supremacy, misogyny, and racism. Power is shared (power with rather than power over).” The women who stand by this principle have made this world what it is today, and are still fighting to make it even better.

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