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According to (Alcoff,1995 ) Cultural feminism is the ideology that a woman needs to appropriate the value of her female nature in an attempt to authenticate her female attributes that were previously determined and undervalued by masculinity itself. In cultural feminism, a woman’s enemy lies not just in an economic institution, backward values or even a social system but the root of it all lies in masculinity itself and even in male biology. It is a celebration womanhood, of the separation of a woman’s existence from mans and taking pride in the very essence of female sexuality right down to one’s anatomy.
The power of popular culture and the “Vagina monologues” All aspects of feminist culture seems to occur in waves over periods of time however overlapping and questionable in terms of generations they may be they are most evident in western parts of the world, such as the suffragists of the 1920’s and the American women who fought for sexually reproductive rights in the 1960’s.
A wave of popular culture swept across America in the early 1990”s that was indeed a reflection of how cultural feminism was present in their society known as “the vagina monologues”.
In her book Baumgardner (2011:102) writes about a how the series of fictional stories inspired by the real life experiences of women of different races, ages and ethnicity on their sex life’s, relationships and personal struggles inspired plays in different universities across the nation gave birth to the V-day an international movement that stands to end violence against all women and girls.
This wave of popular culture encouraged not just the lesbian woman but the heterosexual female to be proud of every bit of her womanhood and sexuality.
In (Alcoff, 1995:435) suggest “woman should not dismiss their biological importance simply because patriarchy has used it to overpower us, our biological make up and the paradox of a woman’s body holds the key to reconnecting with ourselves, our inner genius and beguiling physicality. ” Cultural feminist movements today and the fight against FGM A primary concern of cultural feminism today can be seen in the stance against Female Genital Mutilation (FGM).
Which according to (WHO, 2010) involves the piercing, cutting and burning off of the clitoris or labia and the stitching of the vagina. It is the horrific violation of women’s rights and is predominantly practiced as a result of cultural beliefs in Africa. (UNICEF,2011)estimates the number of women being subjected to FGM in Africa today ranges between 100 to 130 million, FGM is most prevalent in Ethiopia, Kenya, Sudan and Somalia which has approximately 98% of girls being mutilated.
This is an important example of why feminist movements are still needed because third world feminist struggles and first world struggles differ. Feminist movements have developed non governmental organisations like (The Feminist Majority Foundation, 2010) Amnesty International group that seeks to replace cultural practices like FGM with symbolic ceremonies that will still promote traditional beliefs without causing any physical harm.
Such Non-Governmental organisations truly represent how feminism has evolved and has become more concerned with helping vulnerable groups without the help of government aid or funding to address struggles and inequalities by providing health care without asking for anything in return and advocating for policy development and policy change that affects women.
Radical feminism It can be said that radical feminism is at the root of all types of feminism. Bates (2005:66) states that radical feminism has been the incubator from which many feminist ideas rose, from the period of 1967-1975 radical feminism was the leading edge of most feminist theory, however it is no longer fit to solely describe “feminism”. It is often misrepresented as women who detest men when in actual fact it is about women who detest patriarchy.
Nachescu (2009:30)mentions how radical feminists challenged the knowledge of politics under their slogan “the personal is political” this redefined political areas that affected human life such as abortion and contraceptive laws all of which were previously part of ones personal life. Sexuality and the “closet feminist” Generally feminism is torn between two opinions on the issue of sexuality; some believe sex is the root cause of female oppression whilst others believe it is what truly liberates a woman.
Prostitution challenges female liberation from male objectivity especially in states where sex work has been legalised creating miscommunication between radical feminists and prostitutes. According to (Morris 2007:6) “they only believe in finding a way for prostitutes to escape but what is wrong with having sex for a living, who am I to you if I enjoy how I earn a living, and are such people without dignity? ”. Although this may be a sensitive topic, the legalisation of prostitution in some countries has served to protect sex workers.
Today even though one might support various issues of feminist concern, no one wants to bear the title of the ball busting ice queen. The modern woman fears being branded as a narrow minded cliche of a radical feminist who would much rather burn a bra than buy one. Women prefer to be recognised as non-neutralists and are more content to make a sizable anonymous donation than stand and protest for the cause itself.
This has sparked a trend of “closet feminists” who are deluded by the so called illusion of “having it all”. Genz, 2009:101)The modern woman can be described as an individual figure that tips her hat to past feminist accomplishments but now thinks of them as superfluous and extreme. Feminism and why the cause will never die The struggle has changed but the cause is still very much the same, society may have guaranteed equality for women on paper but in actual reality there are still hidden mechanisms still obstructing progress.
Over time feminist movements have addressed the most obvious struggles and inequalities like education, equal pay and reproductive rights which previously were hard to detect at individual level. However(New York Times, 2011:22)reported “the right to vote was only granted to women by King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia in 2011 but women will only be allowed to vote or run for municipal positions in 2015 and only with the consent of a male family member. ” Even in todays so called “enlightened era” the lists of human rights denied to women in some parts of the world are appalling.
Feminist movements are still present addressing the relationship between oppression and power, which is evident in today’s society as sexual harassment and rape and attacks on the gay and lesbian communities. Roy (2011:12) journalist at the New York Times reported the rape of a 15 year old girl in New Delhi, India the story made headlines because her attacker was granted a reduced sentence on the account that he was his family’s primary breadwinner.
These injustices have given birth to different kinds of global movements such as the “slut walk” in which women protest on the right to wear what they choose without fear of male attack or rape. (Reader: 2012) reports on women and men taking their protest to the streets after a Toronto police officer accused a rape victim of “asking for it” flashes of cleavage and legs on show their slogan reads “consent is sexy”. Too often very light is shed on such organised protests but this is a specific example of how the feminist movement is not over it is merely manifesting itself in different ways.
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