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Traditional and modern feminism

Traditionaland modern feminism


Traditionaland modern feminism

Theterm feminism is used to refer to economic, cultural and politicalmovements that are initiated with the aim of establishing equalrights for women that are protected by the law. It was started as acampaign that brought to light the issue of gender differences andhoped to engage the society in a dialogue that ensured genderequality and protection of women interest. Historically, feminism cabe subdivided into three distinct waves. The first wave occurred inthe 19thcentury and continued into the better part of the 20thcentury. The second wave took effect in the 1960s and 1970s and wasfollowed by the third wave that started in the 1990s to date (Loomba,&amp Sanchez, 2016). As a movement, feminism has played a vital rolein altering several predominant perspectives, especially in thewestern world. Some of the issues advocated for by this movementrange from legal rights of women, the right to bodily autonomy andintegrity, reproductive issues, and abortion among others. However,with an ever-changing world, sharp differences have manifestedbetween traditional and modern feminism. The paper provides ananalysis of the similarities and differences between these two formsof feminism. It also evaluates the society’s perception of themovement especially that of the male gender.


Inorder to understand the similarities and differences betweentraditional and modern feminism, it is important to evaluate eachmovement in brief. Traditional feminism gave rise to the entiremovement. Those that were the first champions of the movementbelieved women and men were all equal. Thus, they opposed any social,economic and political action that made them appear weaker to theirmale counterparts. Also referred to as liberal feminism, the movementbelieved in ensuring that political issues such as equal employmentopportunities, women suffrage, and equal pay were addressed toguarantee women had equal opportunities of success as men (Loomba, &ampSanchez, 2016). Due to the many challenges that faced the societyduring the period, those who were involved were not able to do much,but they laid the groundwork that ensured future generations had anactual chance of reaping the fruits of the struggle.


Thismovement emerged during the 1960s at a time that the world wasexperiencing an unprecedented level of social transformation. Unliketheir predecessors, modern feminist champions applied a more radicalapproach as long as it would get them to their goal. The movement,which has been termed as the hippie movement, adopted an extremelyradical approach to matters. Their philosophy was an anti-authority,anti-God and anti-just about everything. Those who founded the newmovement were aimed at ensuring total liberation for all women.Modern /radical feminism is guided by several assumptions. Firstly,they believe that gender inequality has come about because of thecontrol that men have over women sexuality and reproduction and arefocused on doing away with the concept of gender altogether.Secondly, they assume that male dominance of women is universal(Loomba, &amp Sanchez, 2016). Lastly, they assume that sex-basedinequality is the greatest form of oppression at it mandates women tobe dependent on their male counterparts. Thus, the movement seeks tospark social changes that will tilt the balance to ensure that theseissues are corrected.


Fromthe above evaluations, it is evident that there are somesimilarities. Firstly, both traditional and modern feminismcampaigners agree that there is a need for social change in regardsto how the society perceives women (Loomba, &amp Sanchez, 2016).Both movements agree that women have been denied legal rights andhave continuously been viewed as inferior to their male counterparts.The effect of this is that the society has been structured in such amanner that makes a woman dependent on the male gender.

Themovements are also in agreement on the priorities of things that needto change in order to ensure that women have an equal stake ingovernment. Here, they believe guaranteeing gender equality throughissues like equal pay for work done, a non-discriminative employmentframework and economic and political freedoms are matters that wouldprovide a boost in their plight towards closing the social dividethat currently exists between the two genders.

Lastly,traditional and modern feminism movements agree that women and menare equal (Loomba, &amp Sanchez, 2016). This is an important issuein the discussion about gender roles as this has played a significantpart in creating the divide that exists today. The two groups are ofthe opinion that the society would be fairer to women if there wereno traditional bounds that stated what a person of one sex wasallowed to do and what the other was prohibited from doing. Thesecontinued practices made it difficult for even the most liberalpeople to avoid playing the gender card as it ultimately workedagainst women.


Thoughit could be argued that these two entities are a lot similarespecially given that one is a continuation of the other, the truthof the matter it that they are mode different than they are alike.For instance, these two differ in terms of what they advocate for intheir campaigns. Modern feminism is adamant that the best way a womancan be able to free herself from traditional shackles is by becomingpro-choice and pro-life. These are calls that give women completepower over their bodies, allowing then to have the final say overwhat happens to them with little or no consideration about what thesociety expects. However, traditional feminism does not take a hardstand against the society, but believes that it is possible to workwith the structures of communities and enable women to attain whatthey want without alienating everybody in the process.

Secondly,the groups also differ in regards to the values they want to upholdas a way of ensuring that they attain their goals. Radical feminismmovements are of the opinion that members need to make a choice onwhether to uphold traditional or non-traditional values (Loomba, &ampSanchez, 2016). In their view, their struggle for equality cannot beachieved if they do not abandon their traditional values and adoptvalues which they consider to be the initial steps toward achieving amovement that will give them an edge and get them closer to attainingtheir mandate. Traditional feminism, on the other hand, does notrequire one to pick a side between traditional and non-traditionalvalues. In their view, the best way to win the battle is to adopt andimplement policies that allow members to change their opinions andadopt more progressive stands when it comes to the issue of women`srights.

Theother area where the two differ is in regards to the role of men inchanging the current status to a situation where members from bothsides would be viewed as equals. According to traditional feminists,men and women are equal in all accounts. Though their desires andgoals may differ significantly, they all have the same abilities tochange and incorporate the needs of others. Moreover, the issue ofgender role should be a non-issue in the conversation as they believethat either gender can perfectly substitute each other when required.The modern movement upholds a very different approach and in theirview men are the cause of all the challenges that face women. Thoughcomplete getting rid of the male gender is not practical, it issomething that they can consider as a solution. Their radicalapproach allows them to take an incredibly sexist stand and this is acomplete opposite of what traditional feminist tried to achieve.

Thetwo movements also differ in the role of the supernatural in bringingan end to the challenges that women have faced for centuries. Modernfeminism falls short for calling all of its believers to be atheists(Loomba, &amp Sanchez, 2016). In their view, God has no role in thepredicament they face, and they have a responsibility to ensure thatthey fight for their beliefs until a time when they will not exist inthe shadows of men. On the other hand, traditional feminism does notimpose any religious stand on those that believe in their campaign.Similar to the argument presented above, the issue does not hold anyrelevance to the course that these women have undertaken. In theiropinion, someone’s beliefs are a private issue and invoking themwill not bring women closer towards achieving their goal of equality.

Lastly,these two movements differ in regard to how they view theirsituation. Traditional feminism movements are of the opinion that thecurrent status of women is as a result of societal segregation of thefemale gender and division of labour based on masculinity offemininity. Thus, to change the role of women will require asystematic undoing of these old practices that have made the womandependent on man. However, radical feminists have a very differentview as to why women have been on the receiving end of society forcenturies (Loomba, &amp Sanchez, 2016). To them, women have beenvictims of a systematic form of oppression by their malecounterparts, and in time this became normal and acceptable. However,it is their belief that this needs to change if society is to be ableto shed of this oppression that has been directed to the femalegender.

Men’sattitude towards feminism

Theworld has made significant strides towards ensuring that all membersof the society understand that they have a duty of ensuring theyrespect people of the opposite gender and view them as equals in allmatters. However, there are those who are still held in the past whenthere were distinct roles for both genders. This attitude is highlyinformed by the fact that gender distinctions is one of the oldestpractices upheld by the society, and even though there are stridesthat have been made towards ensuring that the situation changes,there is a long way to go before men are able to view women as theirequals. This noted it is important to appreciate that there aresignificant achievement made by both the traditional and modernfeminism movements, and if the level of progress continues, thesociety will start enjoying total freedoms and rights which are heldby their male counterparts.


Fromthe above discussion, it is evident that the traditional and modernfeminism movements have been working hard to ensure women are nolonger segregated against or treated as lesser beings because oftheir gender. In a society that prides itself for achieving progressin all areas of human interest, overhauling this mentality should notan unattainable task. Throughout the paper, it is evident that thoughthese two movements may be applying different strategies, they allhave the end goal of ensuring that women enjoy equal rights, freedomsand have access to same opportunities. Thus, it is upon the globalcommunity to come together and adopt policies that will ensure thisgoal is met sooner than later. This would be the first steps towardsensuring that future generations will no longer have to worry aboutbeing treated differently because of their gender and this will be asignificant milestone for the entire human race.


Loomba,A., &amp Sanchez, M. E. (2016). Rethinking Feminism in Early ModernStudies: Gender, Race, and Sexuality. Routledge.