When writing essays about feminism, there are a lot of aspects you can focus on. We have collected some of the best essay examples with prompts.
Feminism is a socio-political movement that is about fighting for equal rights and opportunities for all genders. While many point its beginnings to the women’s rights movements in the 19th century, when women were liberated and finally allowed to vote, feminist thinking can actually be traced back to as early as the late 14th century with the works of French writer Christine De Pizan, touted the first feminist philosopher.
Today, the definition of feminism has expanded to end discrimination, oppression and stereotyping of all genders from all walks of life. It aims to make radical reforms to eliminate cultural norms and push the legislation of equality-supporting laws.
Because feminism is a widely relevant topic, you may be asked to write an essay about feminism either as a student or a professional. However, it may be difficult to find a starting point given the broad spectrum of areas in which feminism is found relevant.
For help with your essays, check out our round-up of the best essays on feminism to provide inspiration:
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1. Men Explain Things to Me by Rebecca Solnit
“The battle with Men Who Explain Things has trampled down many women — of my generation, of the up-and-coming generation we need so badly, here and in Pakistan and Bolivia and Java, not to speak of the countless women who came before me and were not allowed into the laboratory, or the library, or the conversation, or the revolution, or even the category called human.
Solnit starts with amusing narratives of real-life experiences with men who have critiqued her books wrongly. Solnit points out that men’s arrogance and tendency to explain things to women, thinking they know better, have forced women into silence and weakened their credibility even in places where their voices are crucial – such as in the court stand when women testify to being raped. Solnit, thus, emphasizes that the fight against mansplainers is important to the feminist movement. For more, check out these articles about feminism.
2. Bad Feminist by Roxane Gay
“I want to be independent, but I want to be taken care of and have someone to come home to. I have a job I’m pretty good at. I am in charge of things. I am on committees. People respect me and take my counsel. I want to be strong and professional, but I resent how hard I have to work to be taken seriously, to receive a fraction of the consideration I might otherwise receive. Sometimes I feel an overwhelming need to cry at work, so I close my office door and lose it.”
Gay reveals a series of secrets that make her believe she is a “bad feminst.” At first, she had tried to hide her fondness for men, fashion and thuggish rap, among many other things that gave her joy but went against the ideal feminist image etched in the mind of many. Eventually, Gay embraces the “mess of contradictions” that she is, proudly owning the label of a “bad feminist” while she speaks up on issues critical to the feminist movement and debunks myths on the unrealistic standards surrounding the sisterhood.
“There is no photo for what my father did to his daughters. It came into our bodies as a habit of being, a structure of consciousness, a way of life. Maybe it is akin to feeling discovered and conquered and colonized. Maybe the first colonizations are of the bodies of women and children, and from there they extend like the outstretched hand of a man grabbing land. Cultures.”
Yuknavitch highlights her rage against “fathers” both in her personal life and in each political administration that she survived. Yuknavitch described how these fathers and father images try to take control of others’ bodies and lives and crush others’ spirits. In her confrontation and memory of such men, however, Yuknavitch also learned to create art and find her feminist purpose.
4. Trickle-Down Feminism by Sarah Jaffe
“Women may be overrepresented in the growing sectors of the economy, but those sectors pay poverty wages. The public sector job cuts that have been largely responsible for unemployment remaining at or near 8 percent have fallen disproportionately on women (and women of color are hit the hardest). Those good union jobs disappear, and are replaced with a minimum-wage gig at Walmart—and even in retail, women make only 90 percent of what men make.”
Jaffe gives an in-depth view of the gains and impasse in the fight to improve women’s working opportunities. She stresses that women’s breakthroughs in the workplace may not always be a cause for celebration if these do not translate to long-term and more concrete changes for women to be treated better in the workplace. Jaffe encouraged feminists to continue organizing themselves to focus on solutions that can address the continued low wages of women, gender pay gaps and the minimal choice of professions offered to women.
5. Emily Ratajkowski Explores What It Means to Be Hyper Feminine by Emily Ratajkowski
“I often think about this. Why, as a culture, do we insist on separating smart and serious from sexy? Give women the opportunity to be whatever they want and as multifaceted as they can be.”
American model Ratajkowski writes a candid memoir on what it means to be hyper feminine in a society that represses and shames sexuality. She recounts how a misogynistic culture heavily influenced her early adventures on exploring her feminine side, how she took it to her advantage and turned being “sexy” into her strength. Ratajkowski also reveals how she feels about feminism today and women, in general, having their own decision and choices.
Writing Prompts on Essays about Feminism
For more help in picking your next essay topic, check out these seven essay prompts that can get you started:
1. Definition of feminism
Feminism is largely believed to be women’s fight against the patriarchy. Could it be a fight against all forms of oppression, discrimination, objectification and stereotyping? Could it be something more? You may even investigate some common myths about feminism. You might be interested in our list of adjectives for strong women.
2. Does feminism still matter in the workplace?
Now that several women are climbing to the top of corporate ladders, have the right to vote and could get a doctorate, does feminism remain relevant?
Your article can explore the continued challenges of women in the workplace. You may also interview some working women who have faced obstacles toward certain goals due to discrimination and how they overcame the situation.
3. Would you consider yourself a feminist?
This would tie in closely to the topic on the definition of feminism. But this topic adds value and a personal touch as you share the reasons and narratives that made you realize you are or are not a feminist.
A common misconception is that only women can be feminists.
4. Historical evolution of feminism
The First Wave of feminism started in the 19th century as protests on the streets and evolved into today’s Fourth Wave where technologial tools are leveraged to promote feminist advocacies. Look at each period of feminism and compare their objectives and challenges.
5. Criticisms against feminism
While feminism aims to benefit everybody, the movement has also earned the ire of many. Some people blame feminism for enabling hostility towards men, promiscuity and pornography, among others. You can also touch on the more controversial issue on abortion which feminists fight for with the popularizd slogan “My body, my choice.” You can discuss the law of abortion in your state or your country and what feminist groups have to say about these existing regulations.
6. How can we achieve gender equality?
Gender equality is pursued in various fields, especially where women have had little representation in the past. One example is the tech industry. Choose one sector you relate closely with and research on how gender equality has advanced in this area. It may be fun to also interview some industry leaders to know what policy frameworks they are implementing, and what will be their strategic direction moving forward.
7. Who are the feminists in your community and what are they fighting for?
Everyone surely knows a handful of feminists in their social media networks. Interview some friends and ask about feminist projects they have worked on or are working on. Of course, do not forget to ask about the outcomes or targets of the project and find out who has benefitted from the cause. Are these mothers or young women?
WRITING TIPS: Before you head on to write about feminism, check out our essay writing tips so you can have a struggle-free writing process.
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