Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Feminism is Having a Choice

One of the most prominent issues of Second Wave feminism was acquiring the right for women to have access to safe, legal abortions. People who believe that women have the right to choose whether or not they have abortions are called, as most everyone, knows, pro-choice. Although in the media today this term almost always pertains to abortion, in my opinion the goal of feminism as a whole is to give women the right to make their own decisions. This applies to so many facets of the modern woman’s life today.

Women should have the right to choose how they raise their children. First and foremost, lesbian women have just as much of a right to bear or adopt children as any other women. (Obviously, gay men equally possess that right.) The stigmas that many women are stuck with, though, often pertain especially to heterosexual relationships. Regardless, when it comes to working women have a right to go back to work after they birth their children, while their partners stay home and raise their children. Or, both partners can go to work and the child can be cared for at a daycare or by a relative during the day. But women should in no way be persecuted for electing to stay home and raise their children and not return to work, or maybe not return for years after the birth of a child. If they have the financial means and desire to do so, women should have the right to choose whether to go to work or remain at home after raising a child.

Women should have the right to choose how they dress. Some Third Wavers, like Jessica Valenti, believe that as long as women understand why society wants them to be thin, dress in a sexualized manner, and wear makeup, they have the right to do so. Others, like Ariel Levy, believe that by doing this, some women objectify themselves. The beauty and body ideals of society have fluctuated radically over the last century. One hundred years ago, wearing pants was controversial for most women. Since then, women have been told to dress puritanically and sexily; with every inch of skin covered and not very much at all; in skintight clothes and clothes that didn’t touch their bodies whatsoever. If women are forced to follow any of these fashions, though, they are not liberated. A woman has just as much of a right to dress in a way that could be perceived as conservative as she does in a way that could be perceived as sluttish- as long as it is her decision.

Women should have the right to choose their sexual activity. They have the right to elect when they lose their virginity. Today, more sexually liberated Third Wavers strongly advocate for the right of young women to have sex, including access to information and contraception. These feminists are very vocal in their belief that teens should have the right to be as sexually active as they want. It is awesome that this belief is becoming more prevalent, but young women’s decisions to have sex later in life, even after marriage, has to be an option too. If young women now have the right and means to choose to have sex in high school, they should also have the right to abstain for as long as they see fit.

This relates to countless other feminist issues being debated today. As long as all women are generalized into one group and not given the right to have opinions as individuals, they are oppressed. Feminism will have succeeded when the every woman can express her opinion and has the free will to act upon it.


  1. Great post! (and great blog) I agree. The concept of choice was always how I preferred to view feminism, as opposed to the series of "shoulds" that some women think it is (you should have short hair, you should be single, and so on).

  2. Great post! I had a (really funny) conversation with a hetero-male friend this week, who drunkenly asked me if I was a "a feminist who wants to have as much sex as possible, or a feminist who wants to stay at home and be respected." This guy's a feminist too, but when I explained, "Um, there are a few more kinds than that," he said, "That's what makes it so confusing!"

  3. @Miriam- thanks!
    @Liz- that does sound quite amusing. Feminism IS confusing, I agree, but the many tiny variations one can have on feminism is what can make almost anyone a feminist :)