Nowadays, feminism is being widely discussed throughout the world, and a lot of people are being educated on the topic. Despite of the fact that the movement has existed for many years, the concept of feminism still stirs a lot of controversy in the society and the media. The overall representation of the notion of feminism depends on the media, and it is very important to discuss this dependence in all its versatility.
The notion of feminism comprises several movements that have ideologies that generally are concerned with the aim of defining, establishing and then protecting the political, economic, and social equality for women. The movement is also strives to establish equal opportunities for females in such spheres like discrimination and employment – the ones that are discriminated a lot. The feminist movement resulted in the occurrence of the feminist theory that is used to explain the correct nature of the equality by defining and comparing the social roles of both sexes.
Feminism is also concerned with defining the importance of the roles of women in the contemporary society, as well as of the importance of their experiences. Employing various theories within many disciplines, feminism tries to respond to the occurring issues concerning the equality, as well as concerning the long-existing social constructions concerning both sex and gender. The basic ideas that feminist activists are trying to communicate to the society are the ones connected with the rights of women, as well as with the equality that should exist for men and women concerning their political, social and economic rights.
Furthermore, feminism tries to promote the change of the female image existing in the contemporary media towards the more realistic one that would advance the ideas of the bodily integrity and independence to look the way a woman wants, not the way she is supposed to look.3 Feminism is the force that was behind many societal changes that occurred throughout the history, like the gender neutrality that now exist in the English language, contemporary reproductive rights that a woman possesses, as well as the equality of salaries.
It is believed that the word “feminism” was created by Charles Fourier in 1837. Even though the goals of the movement changed throughout time to correspond to the existing situation, they were always connected to the liberation of women and to struggle against sexism. Due to this, the reaction of the society towards feminist ideas change over time, and still the topic is considered a controversial one. Nowadays, the support for the feminist ideas is on the rise, and people identify themselves as feminists more often than they used to.
One of the major concerns for the contemporary feminist movement is the struggle to break the stereotypes that surround the notion, as well as the prejudices that were built around feminism by the media over the years. The concentration on the predominantly female issues has made feminism an outcast amongst other social and political movements. For many years, the US media has been portraying feminism in a negative way, and this led to the creation of many stereotypes on the matter.4
The state of affairs with the media representation of feminism has led to the situation in which feminists are perceived as being separate from the rest of the female population. The media, that used to be a form of dialogue has became a wall of a sort, and it is important to understand the direct connection that exist between the media representation, and the social reaction and awareness towards feminism.
The feminist movement has been widely criticized, and attributed various negative characteristics. For many years, it was seen as the one occurring from the prolonged insecurity and dissatisfaction. The feminist movement has bee described as the one that was acting against men in general, or as the one that is merely dealing with critiquing the portrayal of females in the popular culture. However, the contemporary discussion of such issues as abortion and the birth control, has stimulated more and more people to come out as feminists.5
Surely, there still are the ones that think the word feminism equals the belief that all men are bad, as well as the ones that organize such movements as Women Against Feminism. There still are stereotypes that equal feminism to being fragile and weak, with no sense of humor, and the need to always be politically correct. Thereby, in order to prevent and diminish the existing alienation and confusion, feminist movement needs more focus.
Nowadays, such focus can be created by the media that are being used for a dialogue. What is more, media aid in providing the feminist point pf view on the variety of questions. In the contemporary world, social media play a vital part in the process of conveying feminist ideas to the rest of the world.6 For example, the social media were one of the drives that set the development of the networked feminism in motion. The phenomenon of the networked feminism is a rather recent one, and it is majorly concerned with coordination of feminists in a response to a certain sexist act, but it also helps to share the feminist ideas with the help of the social networks.
Nowadays, the social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter and Tumblr are being the places of feminist manifestation, as well as of promotion of the feminist equality throughout the world. The social media are becoming the places for the expression of the voice that is not usually well represented, and of the viewpoints that are often not even considered. One can even say that the contemporary social media are the places that help to promote the development of feminism and spread the ideas concerning gender equality to the masses.
For example, the social media promote feminism with the help of hashtags that act as the means for grouping the information on the topic, as well as to improve the mass convergence of feminism. In this case, the social media becomes a ground on which the feminists and their supporter are able to fight the occurrences of sexism and discrimination. Another way in which social media are helpful is that they give the opportunity to communicate and discuss the important questions related to feminism and discrimination.
The social media are the ones that are able to change the ways in which the contemporary society perceives and treats both feminism, and the proponents of the movement. This is achieved because social media provide a voice for the women, and a chance to express their opinions on various matters.7 For example, the social media are becoming one of the places that raise awareness on such topics as the domestic violence. One of the recently popular tendencies is concerned with women explaining the reasons why they stayed in the abusive relationship.
This kind of communication and discussion is possible only because of the existence of the social media. The attention of the society is nowadays forced to consider the burning issues concerning women.8 The voice of feminism has thus been amplified, and the chances that it will be considered grow. Considering the crucial role of the social media in the promotion of feminism, one may even say that this is a social media revolution for women.
What is more, the social media help to realize that the issues connected with the equality and discrimination of sexes are everywhere, and there is a need to consider and to address them. The process of destroying the wall in perception, and making more women associate themselves with the discussed feminist notions has been set in motion. The feminist ideas are now accompanied by the everyday stories of the ordinary women, and they are becoming less and less marginalized, taking up the space that has been prepared for them.9 The feminist movements connected with social media are even more important as they are rising the consciousness of the average citizen. What is more, they are able to organize a protest on the matter of sexual discrimination, or start a campaign, and the entire world will know about it.
The issues connected to feminism used to be available for only the small circles of the supporters of the feminist ideas, and this lead to a creation of many stereotypes that still affect the entire movement.10 Even so nowadays, feminism is becoming more and more mainstream, and the people that are involved in the dialogue are not all feminists. Surely, the majority of people that nowadays support and spread feminist ideas are still women. However, with the help of the very same social media, one can observe that men join the movement too.
All in all, the media played a very important role in the process of scattering the negative ideas about feminism. These ideas led not only to creation of negative stereotypes and prejudices, but also to feminism being marginalized and perceived negatively by the majority of the population. However, as the recent event show, the usage of the social media can help in changing the situation for the best and in providing feminism with the strong voice that will be heard and considered.