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Free Research Paper on Feminism

Before taking this class I had never really put much thought towards the subject of feminism. I had a general idea of the term, but no real sense of what it truly entailed. After realizing that, I felt that I needed to gain an understanding of feminism and what it meant to be a feminist. Following just the short amount of time spent reading material and listening to lectures I have come to a much clearer view of what the term means to me. As a result I have come to find that feminism is a movement for the equality of women who are fighting against the historically accepted ideals of gender.

To understand feminism we must first look at part of its cause, the social construction of gender. Gender is all around us. From the first day of our lives we find ourselves being labeled by it. For example when a baby is born the first thing the mother wants to know is what sex her child is, and the resulting answer will determine what color, blue or pink, the newborns blanket will be. It has become socially acceptable and to many necessary to place these titles, male or female, on an individual to give them a sense of identity.

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Yet, I challenge the fact that it is not for the individual’s needs but more our own sense of security that we do this. A newborn child does not care whether it receives a pink or blue blanket, or what sex they are, they instead need to feel the security and love of there parent. The label of male or female therefore only gives the false sense of identity to the parents of the child.

I have also come to see that we as a society do depend on the division of labor and assigned responsibilities, and as a result we use the classification of male and female to help us to do this. Consequently we have created a stratification system in which men have come to be ranked above women. We can find this discrimination in the workplace, educational system, political or religious sectors, as well as many others. How many women are CEO’s of large corporations, been president, or even are just accepted as single parents. If a father and mother both worked who would you think to receive the largest paycheck. These along with many more are just examples of the injustice that women face on a daily ongoing basis.

This system of stratification has been brought into place as a result of societal ideals, norms, and expectations that have become a part of many of our own senses of worth and identity. For example I never challenged the ideas of gender because that was not what I was raised to do. My father worked, my mother stayed home. That is how things were in my house. I was never taught to challenge this or question it, instead I accepted it. Therefore much of my own value system and beliefs have been shaped by what society has wanted me to believe. When I really looked closely at my own self I came to find that I have only helped the concept of gender to continue its prevalence in our society.

In conclusion I have come to see that feminism has nothing to do with “bra burning” or to “trashing men”, but rather gaining an understanding and making sense of the world around us. Feminism deals with challenging rather than accepting what we are told by society is right and wrong. It is standing up for ourselves and taking pride in what we do. We must see and understand our relation to the world and its practices rather than just go along with them. Feminism therefore as I have come to understand it is a movement away from historically accepted norms to a more open and equal way of living.

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