Redefining Feminism

Lumping these issues in with feminism creates a divide for those who want to support equality but disagree on these other topics.


A crowd of marchers gathering at the 2020 Women’s March (Getty Images).

Bella Rock, Reporter

The 2020 Women’s March swelled with the cheers of those striving for female equality, swaying signs, and the iconic pink hat. Empowerment pulsed amongst the marchers. However, I found myself listening to more presenters advocating for education reform, better immigration policies, and the increase of minimum wage than about the overall equality of women. Those protesting against the Women’s March lined the edges; however, some signs stuck out as they were against issues unrelated to women’s rights.

As the years go on, the percent of those who consider themselves feminists has declined. According to a HuffPost/YouGov poll, 20% of Americans consider themselves feminists. However, that same poll reported that 82% of Americans believe “men and women should be social, political, and economic equals.” We’ve shifted from viewing feminists as those in support of the equality of men and women to “femi-nazis.”

Part of the shrinking circle of those who consider themselves feminists may be the growing stigma that feminists are so much more than those striving for female equality. Over time, the American feminist movement has veered from simply fighting for equality to a convoluted jumble of typically more left-leaning issues, e.g. immigration and gun control. While these are important issues, women need a chance to have the central focus as themselves. Along with this, lumping these issues in with feminism creates a divide for those who want to support equality but disagree on these other topics.

Alison Simpson, a Boise High Junior and member of Humanitarian Club, which worked with the Boise Women’s March, believes that feminism should be narrowed back down to the topic of female equality. In regards to the feminism, specifically the Women’s March, Simpson stated, “While I understand that feminism can relate to sexuality or abortion, it gets to a point that people take it as an opportunity to express all their opinions, which makes it unwelcoming to others.” She went on to say that since feminism is a more progressive issue, it does draw in those with more liberal views; however, “In my experience, in the case where a non-relating political topic comes up at a feminist event, the people involved in the discussion are disrespectful towards the more conservative side of the topic.” This act of defining differences creates a divide in a movement that strives for united strength to achieve equality for all.

The current wave of feminism is fighting for the social equality of women. Therefore, it’s easy for these complications to arise because what falls under the umbrella of such a murky concept is widely debated. Additionally, recognition of the harm this can do in isolating some right-leaning feminists often goes unacknowledged.

The true ideals of feminism can sometimes get lost in the constant blur of politics. However, there is strength in unity. Therefore, it is important to remember the roots of the movement, allowing anyone who wants to fight for gender equality to feel welcome. As Simpson observed in Boise, “I find it disappointing when I go to an event meant to bring people together, but instead tends to leave people out.”