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Roxanna Walker

Professor Foster

RHET 1312

31 March 2017

Should U.S. Feminist Shifting Their Movement

When you look up the word, feminist, the definition would read along the lines of social,

political, and economic equality of the sexes; but for some that definition is too broad and does

not truly represent the movement of feminism. A definition that truly respects and recognizes the

meaning of the word is the personal definition Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie used in her book, We

Should All Be Feminist. She defines feminism as someone, man or woman, who recognizes that

there is a problem with gender and believes it should be fixed for the better for both genders and

not in favor of one. However, the problem with gender is not uncommon and situated in one

country, it is universal and global. Feminism has been around for many years and therefore has

aided women in getting the rights that are unarguably entitled to men. In the United States,

American feminist in the twenty-first century are currently fighting for womens rights that

include equal pay as men, reproduction rights that covers contraception, abortion, and health

care, and many others. However, there are some countries that do not have the right to fight for

even the average modern American woman right. Due to this, some have begun questioning

whether American feminist should shift their movement to fight for womens rights in other

countries that have less rights than they do.

American feminists should not shift their feminist movement to international women's

liberation for three reasons. The first being, that feminists -American or not- cannot fully fight
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for womens rights for other countries when they are not seen as equals in their respective

country. Secondly, any and every upper movement for womens liberation is upper movement for

all women. Lastly, the focused concerns in America by American feminists is not viewed as

oppressions in other countries, because of this, the benefits for aiding those countries would be

none. However, even though American feminist are recognizing an issue within the genders in

their own country and believes it should be fixed, many argue that they are not truly feminists

since their movement is centered on women issues in their country alone.

Feminists, whether theyre Western and Eastern, must realize for anyone to help others

they first must be able to help themselves. According to Paulo Friere in his book Pedagogy of the

Oppressed he believes that, It is only the oppressed who, by freeing themselves, can free their

oppressors. The latter, as an oppressive class, can free neither others nor themselves (Friere 8).

Considering this, if American feminist didnt fight for their rights and dont continue to fight for

their rights, how will they be able to help others who are facing similar issues they are trying to

liberate themselves from? This is also evident for all rights regardless of issues surrounding

gender. For example, African- Americans couldnt vote until 1870, however women werent able

to vote until 1920. As a result, even though African- Americans could vote, this only included

men which meant black women were unable to vote until women could vote which was 50 years

after African-American men could. Considering this, if it wasnt first for African-American men

fighting for their right to be able to vote and then the American feminists fighting for their right

to vote that African-American women could be able to vote. For instance, if women were able to

vote before African-American, African-American wouldnt have been able to vote regardless of

being women, because African-Americans as a whole were unable to vote. As a result, African-

American women wouldnt be able to effectively help other countries or highlight political issues
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surrounding America, since they did not have the right to effect change. Therefore, it must be a

continuous fighting for all rights that are not equivalent to those in your own country, not just a

fighting for almost all, majority, nor some rights.

When women, anywhere around the world, have rights that other countries dont have,

that opens the door to the possibility of those countries to get them as well. Because of this, any

and every upper movement for womens liberation is upper movement for all women, regardless

of country and social classification, this is evident in the suffrage movement that was taken place

throughout the world. The first wave of feminism began during the late nineteenth and early

twentieth century and was focused on women gaining their right to vote in the United Kingdom,

the Netherlands, Canada, and the United States. However, the first country to successfully gain

their right to vote was New Zealand on the 19 of September 1893. When the news came out

about the success of the New Zealand movement, other suffrage campaigners wrote to them that

their victory gave a new hope and life to all women struggling for emancipation (Ministry for

Culture and Heritage). However, it wasnt until many years later, 1918, that British women

gained their right to vote, then the United States two years after that, and the French in 1944.

Indian and Pakistani women couldnt vote until 1947 and 1950, nevertheless, the United Nation

called for full womens suffrage in 1952 (CQ Global Researcher). Even though all women were

eventually allowed to vote, it wasnt until the victory of a feminist movement in a certain country

was allowed to vote that women in other countries were eventually able to as well.

Although feminist movements revolve around gender equality, the focus varies from

group to group and from place to place. Considering this, the drive around womens rights in

America is a movement for physical liberation and having the ability to express themselves

without being seen and revered as objects for males to lust after. However, this is not a concern
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for some countries who do not worry about how their physical appearances makes others feel nor

worry about what they might think. Due to this difference, other countries way of thinking and

dressing is significantly different from Americans and other modern countries. Since American

feminist focus is on the representation and liberation of their bodies, however for Muslim

women, their culture and religious traditions do not view their dressing traditions as oppressive

nor submissive to males (Aossey para. 2). Therefore, for a feminist group that focuses on

physical liberation, their movement and opinions on other countries that do not see themselves as

physically oppressed would be invaluable and infringes on that countrys culture and religious


A true feminist movement isnt and shouldnt be sectional and isolated, it should go

where it needs to and help those in need of helping. However, feminism is so often segregated

and situated around a certain group of people that it becomes categorized and labeled, separating

it from actual feminist movements (Al- Sibai). American feminists are labeled as such because

theyre centered around the American womans strife. Feminist movements that are surrounded

around people of color are often categorized as black feminist movements and therefore, they

only concern themselves with issues that plague their community. However, feminist

movements should focus on all issues that are not equal for all regardless of ethnicity,

stereotypes, nationalities, genders, and etcetera. Feminist movements should be two things global

and intersectional. For feminism to be considered a global movement requires the primary

concern for womens rights movement to be both forward moving and worldwide. When

feminist movements are organized intersectional, feminists interconnect the oppressive

institutions and avoids examining them separately creating a variety of other feminist movements

(Al-Sibai). When feminist organizations are divided, they do not aim to improve womens rights
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that affect women -and men- on a global scale nor do they correctly represent and demonstrate

the true meaning of what feminism is.

Feminism is a movement that requires identifying an issue concerning gender rights and

working towards a solution. The drive to fixing a gender issue is done by a diverse group of

people, not just a group of women. However positive this movement might be, feminism has

many conflicting ideas and groups of people who differ on how to fix the issues they face

concerning gender, human rights, and equality. One of these issues is whether American feminist

should continue to focus on the issues and conflicting ideas that concern their country or become

more international. Some of the reasons American feminists should continue to fight for their

rights is because, they must first be free from oppression themselves before they can help others.

Secondly, all women rights gained -regardless of country- is beneficial for all women. Lastly, the

issues that countries focus on varies from country to country. Due to this, what one country

might consider oppressive might not be oppressive to the country they wish to help. However,

many still believe that the feminist movement should be global and diverse. It should concern

with advocating for human rights, not just American rights, same sex rights, or people of color. It

should focus on all rights that effect the equality for all and not some. Nevertheless, this conflict

concerning the direction Americans should focus their movements is still being debated, they

continue to advocate for human rights -equal womens rights- that take place in America.
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Work Cited

Adichie, Chimamandra Ngozi. We Should All Be Feminists. Anchor Books. New York. 2015.


Al-Sibai, Noor. Four Ways Mainstream Feminism Fails Muslim Women.

http://everydayfeminism.com/2015/01/feminism-fails-muslim-women/. Everyday

Feminism. 2015. Web. 31 March 2017

Aossey, Gabby. Muslims Are the True Feminists Huffington Post


feminists_b_9877692.html. 2017. Web. 31 March 2017.

Brief History. https://nzhistory.govt.nz/politics/womens-siffrage/brief-history. (Ministry for

Culture and Heritage), updated 13 January 2016. Web. 31 March 2017.

Freire, Paulo. Pedagogy of the Oppressed.

http://la.utexas.edu/users/hcleaver/330T/350kPEEFreireCh01table.pdf. 1968. Web.
31 March 2017
Glazer, Sarah. Womens Rights. CQ Global Researcher 3 April 2012. Web. 31 March 31,