27 Dec 2014 16:48

When Time integrated the word “feminist” in its list of words to ban in 2015 – and then just as speedily issued an apology -- the outcry showed the extent to which feminism is a robust and contested term, a living word whose which means was debated...

Feminism 2014: Hobby Lobby, Gamergate And 'Intersectionality'

When Time integrated the word “feminist” in its list of words to ban in 2015 – and then just as speedily issued an apology -- the outcry showed the extent to which feminism is a robust and contested term, a living word whose which means was debated...

Feminism 2014: Hobby Lobby, Gamergate And 'Intersectionality'

When Time integrated the word “feminist” in its list of words to ban in 2015 – and then just as speedily issued an apology -- the outcry showed the extent to which feminism is a robust and contested term, a living word whose which means was debated all year long.

There had been girls like actress Shailene Woodley and the writers of the "Ladies Against Feminism" Tumblr weblog, who rejected the term, defining it as oppositional to men.

There have been females who fought for “second wave” feminist issues like reproductive rights, equality in the workplace – and on the Online -- or who struggled against “rape culture.”

"Intersectional" or “third wave” feminists preached that there is no “one” feminism, and that feminism must be open enough to take into account the lived experiences of girls of colour, queer women and transgender ladies.

The message of 2014, in short, was: Feminism is dead. Long reside feminism. Some touchstones from the year:

A Matter of Definition

The query of what feminism is, and regardless of whether one particular is a feminist, trickled down to celebrities this year, with mixed outcomes.

Putting close to the bottom of a "celebrity feminist of the year" list (if there had been such a thing) was "The Fault in Our Stars" actress Shailene Woodley, who was asked by Time if she was a feminist. "I'm not a feminist," she mentioned, "since I appreciate guys, and I believe the concept of ‘raise ladies to power, take the males away from power’ is under no circumstances going to work out due to the fact you need to have balance.” To which Salon's Mary Elizabeth Williams responded: “If you don’t want to determine as a feminist, that is your company. But is it also much to ask that you understand what a feminist is first?”

A single way might be to appear it up in the dictionary, which, apparently, a lot of men and women did in 2014, because "feminism" was a runner-up for Merriam-Webster's Word of the Year.

Woodley’s sentiment echoed the Women Against Feminism Tumblr that popped up in 2014, with photographs of females explaining why they're not feminists. “I’m not a feminist for the reason that I delight in becoming feminine,” writes one anti-feminist. “I don’t want feminism for the reason that we reside in a society of equal opportunity” writes a different.

Men’s Rights Activist opponent David Futrelle developed a parody response to Women Against Feminism's frequently spurious arguments: Confused Cats Against Feminism. He invited readers to post pictures of cats against feminism, to hilarious result. “I do not will need feminism since it’s not food,” reads the message that accompanies 1 indignant-seeking cat. “Is it food? Where’s my meals!” An additional says, “I don’t will need feminism since I have a cool mustache.” 

"Harry Potter" actress Emma Watson became a celebrity feminist in 2014. As the United Nations Women's Goodwill Ambassador, Watson urged men around the globe to take up the feminist cause: “Gender equality is not only a women’s problem," she mentioned, "it is a human rights challenge that needs my participation. I commit to take action against all types of violence and discrimination faced by ladies and girls."

But possibly the most talked-about celebrity feminist moment was when Beyoncé performed “Flawless” at the Video Music Awards. She stood in front of a 12-feet higher sign reading “FEMINIST,” and in the song, she sampled Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s TED talk on feminism that went viral. Although she backtracked into describing herself as a less controversial "humanist,” at least one particular individual sees her influence as bigger than her contradictory utterances: Kevin Allred, a Rutgers professor who teaches an whole class on Beyoncé titled “Politicizing Beyoncé: Black Feminism, U.S. Politics and Queen Bey” and who argues that her music challenges conventional suggestions of gender, race and sexuality.

Winners and Losers

Malala Yousafzai risked her life to challenge gender expectations. The 17-year-old Pakistani girl who, in 2012, was shot in the head by the Taliban for advocating for the rights of girls and girls to be educated in her nation, was awarded the 2014 Nobel Peace Prize in October.

"In spite of her youth," the Nobel committee wrote, "Malala Yousafzai has already fought for many years for the appropriate of girls to education, and has shown by instance that youngsters and young persons, too, can contribute to improving their own scenarios. This she has accomplished below the most unsafe situations. Via her heroic struggle she has come to be a top spokesperson for girls' rights to education."

In June, meanwhile, the Supreme Court ruled in favor of craft shop chain Hobby Lobby, a private company with about 500 stores and 13,000 full-time staff whose owners said they ran their business enterprise according to “Christian principles” and for that reason did not want to have to pay for employees’ contraception as mandated below the Reasonably priced Care Act. (Penalties would have been stiff for those who didn’t comply.)

The majority Supreme Court ruling argued that corporations owned by religious families do not have to pay for contraception for their female workers. Dissenting Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Sonia Sotomayor strongly disagreed, with Ginsburg telling Katie Couric that the male justices have a "blind spot." “Contraceptive protection is anything every single lady have to have access to, to handle her own destiny,” Ginsburg stated.

This year also saw the rollback of abortion rights in quite a few states. Along with the Hobby Lobby ruling, the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans upheld Texas's HB2 (Home Bill two) law which mandated that Texas abortion clinics make prohibitively costly upgrades or else be shut down. As a result, the quantity of abortion clinics serving the six million girls of reproductive age in Texas dwindled to seven. The Supreme Court place the bill on hold in October, according to the Day-to-day Texan, but the message was clear: abortion rights are vulnerable.

Gamergate exposed how vulnerable females were who ventured into the traditionally male territory of video games. Outraged (largely male) gamers threatened female players with death, rape and "doxxing" (i.e., revealing their private data like addresses), driving some female gamers from the industry they loved. Game developer Zoe Quinn was the target of a vicious on the web mob, as was Anita Sarkeesian, a journalist who criticized the game world's anti-woman culture. The male players who harassed female ones got help from market giants such as Intel, which removed their ads from game journals that had been supportive of the female gamers and important of the misogyny in the game community. 

'Rape Culture'

With allegations nonetheless surfacing from women accusing Bill Cosby of drugging and sexually assaulting them, and debate still raging about Rolling Stone’s disputed story of one particular rape survivor, the bigger conversation about “rape culture” moved from women’s studies courses on campuses to op-ed pieces in mainstream papers.

Coined by feminists in the 1970s, the term rape culture normally seeks to describe how male sexual violence is normalized although victims of sexual assault are either ignored, not believed or blamed for their assaults. In Cosby’s case, stories of alleged sexual assaults had been around for decades, but it took comedian Hannibal Buress to make them go viral. 

And although journalist Sabrina Rubin Erdely’s faulty reporting in Rolling Stone has referred to as into question key facts about “Jackie’s” alleged gang rape at the University of Virginia, it is noteworthy that it took a journalist to seek justice for one particular survivor at a university where rapists – even those who confess – are not expelled. Earlier in the year, Columbia student Emily Sulkowicz decided to carry about a mattress to draw focus to the rape she says she endured as a sophomore and the way she believes the university mishandled her case. 

'Intersectional' Feminism

Feminism has typically been accused of getting a movement whose leadership and representatives tend to be straight, affluent white women whose expertise and advocacy doesn't generally take into account the expertise of poor ladies, girls of color, queer females or transgender women. This year saw the rise of "intersectional" feminism, the sort that takes those other identities into account.

For instance, the Hollaback "catcalling" video, 10 Hours of Walking in NYC as a Woman, went viral, but many viewers noted that while it powerfully demonstrated what walking down the street is like for numerous ladies -- filled with harassment, come-ons and abuse -- why were almost all the males in the video either Latino or black? The Toast writer Roxane Gay tweeted, “The racial politics of the video are f----d up. Like, she didn’t stroll via any white neighborhoods?”

Considerably of the discussion of intersectionality took location applying the Twitter hashtag #SolidarityIsForWhiteWomen, which was created in 2013 by Mikki Kendall in response to what she told the Hairpin was the outcome of "hunting at a lot of important challenges that just go unreported in magazines that have been theoretically by females, for females. Somehow the survival, security and safety of girls of color (cis and trans), of poor women, of disabled girls, of undocumented females, of any individual that wasn’t a white middle class/upper middle class lady felt unimportant relative to creature comforts and makeup choices." 

Laverne Cox, the transgender breakout star of "Orange Is the New Black," was a 2014 feminist icon for her expansive suggestions about determine. Asked by Time what she wanted people to know about transgender folks, Cox responded: "I feel what they will need to comprehend is that not everybody who is born feels that their gender identity is in alignment with what they’re assigned at birth, primarily based on their genitalia."  

Will 2015 be the year when Time magazine (or somebody else) declares that we're in a post-feminist era? Probably -- but not without having a lively argument in return. 




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