Essay: 21st Century Feminism in America

So, what does a 21st century feminist look like? Well, she looks like anyone, either male or female. That is anyone who refuses to go along with gender privilege while demanding real equality for everyone under the law. The 21st century feminist takes responsibility for her choices. She is a woman willing to protect herself, buying guns if need be. She is willing to take the time to home school her kids or stay at home, sacrificing careers for more personal goals and aspirations. On all fronts she rejects the concept of “victim.”

Grassroots feminism embraces all say its practitioners even calling for the elimination of laws that protect women at the expense of men. These type laws involve hiring practices and family law as it relates to child custody cases and practices.

Feminism has its roots in the 19th century abolitionist movement to eliminate slavery. The modern civil rights movement was born of this as well. In the 1960’s young women began to fight back against sexism in male dominated groups such as SNCC, and the SDS to name two. The movement was propelled forward by white middle class women like Better Friedan, founder of the National Organization for Women in 1966. Others, like Gloria Steinem became the face of the women’s movement. Black women and other women of color also played parts in the movement activities.

Lesbians, led by Phyllis Lyon and Del Martin were instrumental in getting NOW off the ground but later broke away to found the Daughters of Bilitis the first lesbian rights organization in America. Martin also sat on the Board of Directors of the National Organization for Women. Moving into the 21st century feminism is now considered to have entered its third wave of activism led by feminist women of color, lesbian feminists and other radically young women and young men of all backgrounds who are still unhappy with American civil rights progress.

Much of today’s civil rights fight concerns battling the changing face of internalized racism against Blacks and other minorities as well as ending discrimination against gays and lesbians in the military. There is also a major drive to allow gays and lesbians to marry. Critics contend the sanctity of marriage will be tarnished if gays and lesbians are allowed the right to enter into marriage. However, the social tides in America seem to indicate that most Americans don’t care and are in favor of doing away with old taboos in society and military life.

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