Feminism and sexism are enemies to lovers. Despite opposing each other in ideologies, they are both responsible for the continuous unappreciation of women. They bicker, yes, but simply cannot live without each other.
Feminism is a political ideology and movement that advocates for the equality of the sexes through women’s rights. The movement began in the late 19th century with its first wave, although there are connotations of its ideas since Ancient Greece. It emerged out of an environment of liberal and socialist politics and industrialism. The first wave focused on suffrage, to provide women the right to vote. The second wave of feminism, which began in the 1960s, is the most associated to the feminism we know of today. It called for the deconstruction of the patriarchal view of women, and contributed to giving women reproductive rights. The second wave was highly radical and anti-capitalist due to its belief that the patriarchy coexists with capitalism. The third wave, starting in the mid-90s, was similar to the second, but used the patriarchal view of women as tools of empowerment, by claiming back those stereotypes, instead of deconstructing them.
Our 21st century society has been largely impacted by the contribution of feminism. However today, this once impactful, whether totally positive or negative, movement has evolved into near uselessness. Feminism has fallen in love with its enemy, sexism, and is regressing our society through it’s performative and extreme nature, it’s contribution to the unnapreciation of women in the workplace, and it’s undeniable profit from what it is supposedly fighting against.
Social media has been housing feminism for the past years. The movement has provided significant influence through it. Yet the gender-based issues that get most attention in the media are usually those of western women. In turn, it takes away attention from the struggles of women from the rest of the world, particularly in Asia and Africa, which are much greater. In regions such as South Asia and the Middle East and North Africa, the female labour force participation rate is at 24% to 20% per region, respectively. Worldwide, 129 million girls are out of school, most in these areas. Feminism on social media is centred around increasing privileges, instead of survival. The last feminist post you saw was most likely advocating for body positivity, female CEOs, or empowerment, which are all significant, but cannot be talked over the struggles of women who don’t have basic human rights. Contemporary feminism fails to represent all women, especially those with issues these contemporary feminists haven’t ever had to deal with.
Largely inspired by the second wave of feminism, radicalism and extremism is seen in contemporary feminism. With social media as their natural habitat, contemporary feminists have adopted ‘outrage culture,’ or ‘cancel culture,’ as their means of impact. This, in theory, is positive, as women get the right to speak out against sexism in the media. However, due to the extremism of the politically correct, people are being called out for no reason at all. Those who do not agree with their ideologies are often attacked. Cancel culture is highly responsible for the victimising image contemporary feminists make of women. It is enforcing a stereotype women have fought to disprove for centuries.
Through the 21st century evolution, diversification in companies has become increasingly important due to contemporary feminism. The representation of women in particular has been most prominent. Companies have made efforts to diversify their workers, and their strategy for that has been with gender quotas. These quotas are tools used to increase the presence of women in positions of importance. Despite being effective to get the percentage of women in a company to go up, they have both economic and social setbacks. Forceful diversification of gender in companies widens the wage gap and diminishes women’s worth through stereotypes.
The term used to represent the difference in the amount of women and men in a company is “representation based gender gap”, or RGP. An increasing RGP means the ratio of men to women in a company is becoming of greater difference. The compensation based gender gap, or CGP, is the difference in the amount of payment women and men get from working in the same company. It is commonly referred to as the “wage gap”. When there is legal enforcement, the CGP can widen through the RGP. The gender quota, as it increases the amount of women in a company, decreases the RGP, and the ratio of men to women in a company becomes smaller. If the RGP decreases, there would be a supply overshoot of female workers; each individual woman would then be paid less as there are more female workers that are now receiving payment. In turn, the CGP would increase. This causes a greater wage gap between the female and male workers in the company.
From a social point of view, the gender quota is harmful to the way women are perceived in a society. It enforces stereotypes of women being less competent than men. Workers who are hired to fill in for a diversity goal are usually looked down on, according to a 2006 study. Instead of hiring women because they are valuable workers, managers hire women because they feel pressured to reach the diversity goals. The gender quota creates a disruption in the meritocracy of the company, and can cause workers to feel unmotivated as they stop trusting that rewards are merit-based. They could also have a hard time collaborating with each other due to this negative outlook on those who were hired to fill in the diversity goals. Feminists who advocate for the forced representation of women in a company are contributing to the negative stereotype that women need an extra push to be as successful and competent as men.
Feminism, as a political idelogy, coexists with sexism. The movement has the most power when it is most controversial, as seen in its shocking radical ideas during the second wave. The more sexism exists, the more feminism is “needed” by women. A political movement gains power with people’s reliance on it. The more women rely on feminism to beat sexism, the more power it has and so it grows. As long as feminism exists, so will sexism, to increase its influence. Feminism is highly marketable in its contemporary fase, as it has nearly become a slogan. It has significant influence in social media, and its merchandise creates an opportunity in the market. Contemporary feminism in all its uselessness has a surprising power, and it can thank sexism for feeding into it.
The feminism x sexism love affair can lead to a regression in our society. Gender equality will not be reached through performative social media posts or forced gender representation. Instead of making society believe women are equal to men, feminists should show it. Through educational and cultural shifts, our society will be completely gender equal, yet feminism might not be relevant to pursue this goal anymore.