What is feminism?

If someone were to ask me what I think feminism is, I would say it is the right for women to be equal to men, whether that be culturally, socially, economically, or personally. This is a very simple explanation, however I have done some research into feminism and here are other definitions:


Oxford Dictionaries 

“The issue of rights for women first became prominent during the French and American revolutionsin the late 18th century. In Britain it was not until the emergence of the suffragette movement in the late 19th century that there was significant political change. A ‘second wave’ of feminism arose in the 1960s, with an emphasis on unity and sisterhoodseminal figures included Betty Friedan and Germaine Greer”




“Feminism is a collection of movements and ideologies that share a common goal: to define, establish, and achieve equal political, economic, cultural, personal, and social rights for women. This includes seeking to establish equal opportunities for women in education and employment.”



Young Scot

“Simply, feminism is the belief that all women should be allowed the same opportunities, power and rights as men. They should be treated the same and shouldn’t face discrimination or disadvantage based on their gender.

Working from that definition, everyone who believes women should have complete equality as men could be deemed feminists.”



History of feminism 

The feminist movement began in the 19th century, and according to Wikipedia has gone through three waves; ” First-wave feminism was oriented around the station of middle- or upper-class white women and involved suffrage and political equality. Second-wave feminism attempted to further combat social and cultural inequalities. Third-wave feminism is continuing to address the financial, social and cultural inequalities and includes renewed campaigning for greater influence of women in politics and media. In reaction to political activism, feminists have also had to maintain focus on women’s reproductive rights.”



Some may ask; well what has feminism got to do with my assignment? What’s it got to do with women feeling pressured to dye their hair? I’ve been looking into feminism in relation to my work because obviously it is a massive aspect of our society, similar to the way many women feel oppression. Feminism is a huge part of a female life.

Although we generally have equality in our society today, I feel there are still constraints on women in particular, but also men. Hence why I have chosen my assignment to be about women feeling pressured to dye their hair. This is just one of the many things women today feel pressured to do, feel or act. Here are some examples:

Body Image is the biggest pressure

For women to be beautiful, that perfect all rounder

With more and more single parents, Women must also provide for their family

To be the best Mother, maybe a slight competition between children

The point appears to be that women must be seen to be ‘getting it right’ in life, whether thats seen by male or female alike. Supposedly, people should see perfection, expensive items (you are judged on the make/model of your belongings. For example on the high street, Topshop is better than Primark), people should be generally seen to be happy, and so on.

Everyone in our society is being constantly judged, but in particular women. Women in general care more about their appearance and what others think of them, this is a general fact that most people know, even if they don’t want to admit it. Although the figures are rising for men who also like to keep up with their appearance. According to The Guardian: “More than four in five men (80.7%) talk in ways that promote anxiety about their body image by referring to perceived flaws and imperfections, compared with 75% of women. Similarly, 38% of men would sacrifice at least a year of their life in exchange for a perfect body – again, a higher proportion than women.” However, The Daily Mail say that “Men lose interest in fashion trends and being ‘cool’ at the age of 46, a new survey has revealed. But women put the effort in for a full 13 years longer – focusing on their appearance and general fitness until at least age 59.” Although there are many statistics out there for male and female appearance, it is clear to say that figures are rising for males, yet women still currently care about their appearance more than men do. I believe women care more about appearance because it is the way we have been taught to behave and think, it’s a societal oppression.

Germaine Greer argued in her book ‘Female Eunuch’, “that women should get to know and come to accept their own bodies, taste their own menstrual blood, and give up celibacy and monogamy. But they should not burn their bras. “Bras are a ludicrous invention,” she said, “but if you make bralessness a rule, you’re just subjecting yourself to yet another repression.”” (Wikipedia 2015) In simple terms, if women were to wear no bras today, for the sake of having one less thing men can indulge in, then this would make for another oppression against women. Women would be worrying about the shapes and sizes of their breasts more than they would be now when they wear a bra to cover them up.

Also stated by Germaine Greer: “Because woman lives vicariously she need take no moral responsibility for her behaviour; because she has no responsibility she has no morality and no ego. Because of the lack of ego and the variety of roles that women manipulate, they have no identity, as one may guess from their willingness to give up their names.” Suggesting that because woman has no identity, she doesn’t live for herself, there is no need for an ego so she gives away her name in marriage. Although today this is something many women think about; whether they want to take their husbands name and follow on the tradition, or whether they want to be unique or maybe just prefer their name. Yet this is something which we luckily have a choice to do today. Maybe the traditional name taking is lingering from before feminism began, its still something which men dominate over women?




Oxford Dictionaries (2015) feminism definition [online] available from http://www.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/english/feminism [20th February 2015]

Wikipedia (2015) feminism definition [online] available from  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Feminism [20th February 2015]

Young Scot (2014) What is feminism [online] available from http://www.youngscot.org/info/2759-what-is-feminism [20th February 2015]

The Guardian (2012) Body image concerns more men than women [online] available from http://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2012/jan/06/body-image-concerns-men-more-than-women [23rd February 2015]

Daily Mail (2013) Men appearance [online] available from http://www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/article-2424325/Men-appearance-age-46–women-work-looks-decade.html [23rd February 2015]

Wikipedia (2015) Germaine Greer [online] available from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Germaine_Greer

Greer, G. (1970) Female Eunuch. London: MacGibbon & Kee