There are two very different associations with the word feminism. Both versions come from reality. One is the idea of equality; women receive equal pay for equal work, receive promotions based on ability on an equal playing field, and have all the same rights as men. The other interpretation of feminism is women trying to take power from men.
When I first understood this distinction, I was surprised. It had never really occurred to me, but after I thought about it for a bit, I realized that a lot of the press that feminism gets is about ‘women power’ and ‘women first.’ There is also the connection that people make with Matriarchal societies.
The original meaning of the word comes from a time when women’s status came from their attachment to men, first as a daughter, then as a wife and mother. All the women at that time were asking is equality; the ability to vote, buy land, and be able to make a living without a man. We have made a lot of progress since then, but there is still work to be done.
Today the meaning of the word has really been hijacked. When people think that people are trying to take power from them, of course there will be resistance. This idea is really damaging to the cause. In many ways, women do have the equality we have striven for. As we move about in society, for the most part women can do everything that men can do. The inequality is really more hidden now than it was. This means that it is easier to believe that the power struggle is the point.
I believe that equality is still the goal of those in the movement. Any gender-based power system is damaging. I encourage everyone to educate themselves to find out what issues are still being combated. I also have to acknowledge that there may actually be some people who are interested in taking power, but please do not let them ruin the battle for everyone else. We cannot afford to be taken back, and we do not want to push too far.
As a side note, all of these issues can also apply to other equality battles like racism and LGBTQ rights.