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Hello, my name is Karen. I am from Kitchener, Ontario, Canada. I am presently in first year at Wilfrid Laurier University, studying Political Science. I must admit that I know very little about the feminist movement but I'm trying to make a difference and I'm hoping that you can help. Right now I'm doing an essay on feminism. The question is as follows: What impact has feminism as an ideology had on modern society? Looking at Canada, has feminism been successful in altering the public policy agenda or the platforms of any major political parties? Based on you analysis , is it fair to treat feminism as a full ideology, or is it merely a movement that permeates political discourse?

I don't want you to write my essay but I wouldn't mind some feedback or something to maybe give me a better idea on what feminism really is. I'd really appreciate anything you could tell me. Thank you very much, Karen

Feminism means different things to different people. According to the dictionary definition it is: "the full social, political and economic equality of men and women." I support this and also believe that we aren't there yet. (For me, it means that I have the knowledge and the resources to make informed choices/decisions about my life. That I can choose to be an astronaut or a full-time stay-at-home mother; I can choose when and whether to have children. That I can wear short skirts, be confident about my body image because of my own standards, not because of a male or societal standard. It also means that I can have men in my life who are feminists.) Given this, I think that feminism is a "full idealogy" because it involves an entire restructuring/rethinking of much of what we have experienced in our lifetimes---and even for most of this country's and your country's existence. (Of course, this does not take into account the Native Americans and Canadians whose way of life does give examples of this equality.) However, it is also "a movement that permeates political discourse" because it needs that constant outside influence to bring us closer to our goals.

The most frequent misconception about feminism is that feminism is solely about "women's issues." "Women's issues" are everybody issues. Also, feminism by nature of it being about equality also works to liberate men from their "roles." Examples of what has changed as a result of feminism should not be limited to women's lives, but also include the fact that feminist and feminist discourse/thinking has always been at the forefront of the gay/lesbian movement; the civil rights movement; children's rights movement; labor rights movements; peace movements... Because of feminist influence in all of these areas, I think that the world is beginning represented in a way that mirrors what it really is. We have begun to change our language - chairman to chair; "girl" to "woman;" "My mother doesn't work" to "my mother doesn't work outside of the home". It has also changed our choices - women have now entered almost every career; however, men have yet to make the same transition. It has also changed our goals.

While the past 300 years have brought us closer to this goal, we still have a long way to go. Some of the most obvious examples of the continued necessity of feminism are:

  • The fact that in the U.S. women are 52% of the population yet we have yet to see a female President or Vice President; our Senate is only 9% female and our Congress is less than 20%.
  • Women still only make on average .71 cents per every $1.00 earned by men.
  • Women are still 90% of the world's illiterates.
  • Have you ever heard a man talk about how he will combine his career with child rearing? etc...

Unfortunately, I don't know enough about Canada to give specific examples. Perhaps you can use the above as a guide and ask similiar questions of your government.

I hope this helps—good luck with your paper and please let me know if you need more examples. I would be happy to put more thought to it.


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