Feminists in History and Today

Feminism, in the simplest of definitions, means equal rights for women and men. In the article: Feminism, A Journey to Equality,  I discuss feminism and highlight the Feminist workbook by the creators of You, Me, & Uni – Feminism: A Journey to Equality.

There are silent supporters of the feminist movement who don’t want to march or protest the issues facing our society, but they support those who do.

“…We don’t have to join a picket line to say “I am woman, hear me roar.” It’s a gift and a creatively beautiful nod to the fact that we are to be extraordinarily comfortable in our feminine skins and live in celebration of all that we are, refusing to be minimized, sensationalized, or objectified or simply made small in any way.”

From Kerri in the Forward of Feminism.

Gloria Steinem

Known as the “Mother of Feminism,” Steinem led some of the first women’s movements in the 1960s and 1970s. And she hasn’t stopped! When I hear her speak, I can feel her strength and calm as she shares her views on feminism. She woos audiences as her intelligence brings the issues we face, to light.  She has been involved in the National Women’s Political Caucus, Women’s Action Alliance, and the Women’s Media Center, to name just a few of her accomplishments. In 2013 she was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom. In 1993 she was inducted into the National Women’s Hall of Fame!

“Curiosity leads to exploration which can lead to enlightenment.”

Gain Inspiration, Give Inspiration

Margaret Atwood

The Handmaids Tale was written in 1985 by Margaret Atwood. She wanted to write a dystopian novel and set out to do so with a female voice. The utopia and dystopia books she had read were from male authors and she envisioned a need for the woman’s perspective. The 2017 television adaptation of Atwood’s novel brought her book back into best-seller status as the screen made her story remarkably come to life. Watching her main character, June, endure a horrific existence and continue with a quiet strength that moved other characters to stand up and question their choices, creates a powerful feeling in me. The stories in her book bring old ways into the present in a relatable way that will inspire future generations.

Virginia Woolf

Woolf spent her life questioning the roles of women and men, wondering why they followed the roles they did. She chose a different life for herself, however, she followed enough societal rules to get her to the place where she could be free to write and express herself. She married Leonard Woolf and became a woman who had the financial means to hire household help to free her of the daily responsibilities of women. Without having children, which was not her choice, she was able to utilize her creative talents, becoming consumed with writing. She wrote about controversial themes, she wrote of feminism, and she recorded her life in journals and through her letters.

“It is fatal to be a man or woman pure and simple: one must be a woman manly, or a man womanly.”

Virginia Woolf

Simone de Beauvoir

In 1949 Simone wrote The Second Sex. She was a French writer and political activist who used her voice to share about feminism in a way the world had not seen before. Her book was criticized for its forward-thinking about modern feminism. She discussed social constructs that women faced and in turn, her book was banned by The Vatican and considered to be porn by the public. What a bold and brazen woman Simone de Beauvoir was!

“I am too intelligent, too demanding, and too resourceful for anyone to be able to take charge of me entirely. No one knows me or loves me completely. I have only myself.”

Simone De Beauvoir

Eleanor Roosevelt

She was the First Lady of the United States from 1933 until 1945. As the longest-serving First Lady, she was an American political figure, activist, and diplomat. She led a public life of her own prior to the presidency. As First Lady, she was known for her outspokenness on civil rights for African-Americans. She held regular press conferences, wrote a monthly magazine column, and hosted a weekly radio show. She made public appearances on her husband’s behalf, greatly shaping and defining the role of the first lady She spoke at a national party convention and publicly disagreed with her husband’s politics from time to time.

Eleanor Roosevelt advocated for expansive roles for women in the workplace, fought for the rights of WWII refugees, and civil rights of Asian Americans. After her husband died, she carried her public roles in politics for the last seventeen years of her life. She chaired the John F. Kennedy administration’s Presidential Commission on the Status of Women. This woman was known as “one of the most esteemed women in the world.”

“Create whatever causes a revolution in your heart.”

Elizabeth Gilbert in Big Magic

Rosie The Riveter

This fictional character from the 1940s sent a powerful message, showing women working during WWII. This iconic symbol is just as powerful today as we celebrate the power and strength that women possess. I would love to be a part of morning tea and coffee with the housewives as they first saw this character in the newspaper and magazines. Did they feel empowered to go to work or were they judging the women in the factories, thinking a woman’s place was at home with her children?

Deborah Frances-White

Deborah is a modern-day leader of feminism. Her podcast, The Guilty Feminist, reaches an audience of millions on-air and through her regular live shows with dynamic guests. They discuss topics such as friendship, equal pay, fathers, sex workers, empathy, women in charge, and domesticity. (link) They talk about the everyday reality of being a feminist. Wanting to not care about looking cute in an outfit or deleting a photo from social media that shows an extra chin, but feeling a need to! Entertaining discussions of feminists making a difference in the world is inspiring to me. I feel empowered when I listen to Guilty Feminist shows and inspired to make small changes that will make a big impact.

Check out the Gain Inspiration, Give Inspiration page to feel inspired. Share your favorite inspirational quotes with us, we would love to hear them!

What does feminism mean to you?

The workbook (Feminism: A Journey to Equality) will guide you through a journey of self-discovery. Take time for yourself and dig deep to find your hidden treasures.

Anastacia Elizabeth Walden

Freelance writer and editor in Gainesville, Florida

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