Women protest with pickets during feminist movement

It was the summer of 2015. My family and I were on our annual road trip and we had just visited London. As we were on our 6-hour journey coming back home, we noticed that there was a huge traffic jam and commotion occurring on the main road we were travelling on. The reason? A young lady’s car had broken down and she was attempting to fix it. Seeing this, my dad was extremely surprised as he had never experienced a woman doing a stereotypically ‘manly’ job.

My dad reacted very harshly to this and from there, it all went all over the place. I saw fury rising in my sister’s eyes, like a dormant dragon, finally rising from its long slumber. Words came out of her mouth, in all the colours of amber and red, leaving her mouth dry as a bone. My dad was really shocked, as he didn’t know why she was reacting in such an extreme manner. And at that moment, my sister said four words, which I never understood at the time, but would strike my heart for the rest of my life. “I am a feminist,” she said.

Feminism: A Buzz Word

Feminism: a new buzz word of the modern age that attracts the wrong attention. We see it every day, a new crime committed, a new meme created, a new word invented, all in the favour of feminism. It’s a world-renowned term. We’ve all heard of it, one way or another. But what actually is it? Is it really worth all the hype? Or has feminism been the most hyperbolic term by the media we rely upon every day?

Firstly, what does feminism actually mean? Feminism is described as ‘the advocacy of women’s rights on the ground of the equality of the sexes’. In other (simpler) terms it is the demand for equality between both males and females. It is debatable that feminism was born with the great sacrifice Emily Davison performed in favour of the suffragette movement. However, little did she know that her actions would cause a ripple effect into extremity in the 21st century.

We can classify feminism into two groups;

Radical feminism: a belief that any trace of male dominance in society should be eradicated completely. Radical feminists still view society as oppressing women and majorly a patriarchal system

Liberal feminism: a belief that women should be able to maintain their own rights through their own actions in a less extreme way and that gender equality should be explicit in all demographics of life.

Feminism and the Media

But as the media has a compulsive desire to amplify ideologies, the feminist movement has often been the most subjective viewpoint of those who often forget what the core meaning actually is. Feminists are often characterised as being ‘abnormal’; as people who value the role of females in the world more than those of males. But, I believe these ideas were encrypted in our minds through the foul media. By shining a negative light onto the feminist movement, the media expects us to revolt against the feminists and “realise” how women are taking advantage of feminism.

Cartoonist Rebecca Cohen explained,” Whatever new word you come up with will eventually take on the same negative connotations. Because the problem isn’t with feminists; it’s with those who demonize feminism.”

Cartoon of two women speaking to a fortune teller asking if women have equal right in the year 2014, to which the fortune teller responds with 'no'

It is almost as if the media is made up of an assembly of obtuse literalists. Instead of focusing on the bigger picture of gender equality, they decide to portray the small minority of feminists who do take feminism to the extreme and brainwash the world into thinking a certain way. The idea of radical feminism is the main focus of the news and social media rather than the liberal feminists.

It is these small acts of complete and utter foolishness that often take the major acts of true feminism away from the unguarded eyes of the world. Whilst being the reason why women were allowed to vote, the concept of feminism also expands to issues such as self-acceptance, not conforming to societal expectations and generally being who women want to be. However, the media often forget to talk about these aspects which can truly demoralise the feminist movement.

Little Mix vs. Piers Morgan

One explicit example of this issue is the tension between Piers Morgan and girl group Little Mix. While promoting their single ‘Strip”, Little Mix released an image of the four-member band posing in the nude (covering all private parts, of course), with public insults they have received which are metaphorically tattooed all across their bodies. The group describes it as a way of self-acceptance, being confident with who you are and not listening to the harsh words of society.

The catchy song also contains lines such as, “take off all my makeup cause I love what’s under it,’ and, ”jiggle all this weight, yeah, you know I love all o’ this”. Many of their fans labelled it as inspiring and accepted the whole concept with open arms. However, not everyone was pleased. In fact, Piers Morgan stated that ‘they were stripping off to sell more albums’ and continued to state that they had procedures to remove all their flaws, implying that the picture was pointless. This example shows the ignorance people show to the feminist movement. Although Little Mix tried to represent the ideas of body positivity, people view it in a way which ridicules the whole message or moral of their campaign.

In conclusion, people should really be understanding the true meaning of feminism before coming to any opinion. Things we see online or on social media platforms often cloak the actual point of a movement and hyperbolise the extreme acts of feminism in our society. In turn, the media should be portraying the whole picture and should educate people with an objective opinion.