Linda Hughes and Sharon Harris, creators of A Feminist reader, talked to students Thursday night on the relevancy of feminism through history and in the modern day.
A Feminist reader, written by Linda Hughes and Sharon Harris, explores the evolution of feminism throughout time and what the women’s rights movement has achieved. It begins in ancient Greek culture and ends in the present day.
The documents incorporated into the book date as far back as 1405, and some are as recent as the Malala Yousafzai shooting.
In their book, Hughes and Harris look at feminism historically through a multi-cultural lens by taking articles, poems, and letters written by feminist writers from all over the world.
Harris and Hughes said they hope to preserve the history of feminist thought through this book for future generations.
“People think feminism started in the 1970’s but it really spans across all ages in time, and all diversities…there is a community history that needs to be understood about feminism,” Harris said.
“Feminism has grown since its inception. It has grown to include all races, nationalities, classes, and sexual orientations,” Hughes said.
Although many entries in the book by feminist writers date far back in time, the issues written about are still relevant today, Harris and Hughes said. Something that people in modern day may not realize is that feminism is not dead.
While things may be “better” than they used to be, women still have not achieved complete equality with their male counterparts.
Women still make only 77 cents for every dollar that a male makes and women only make up 18.3 percent of Congress and 20 percent of the Senate, according to Rutgers.
People tend to shy away when they hear the term feminist, because throughout the years it has gained some negative connotations, Harris said.
“There’s always been a little concern about what ‘feminism’ means, it can be taken by the media to mean anti-male, but it is really solely about equality for women and an avenue to achieve that,” she said.
This possible aversion to the word feminist for some people may have discouraged support or understanding of the movement, because compared to 40 years ago, feminism is not seemingly as prominent in society, Hughes said.
“I would say 40 years ago we were a lot more focused on removing obstacles in the way of equal pay and equal opportunity because there was a huge asymmetry,” she said.
But various feelings about the word feminism does not mean that there’s not support behind the women’s equality movement. “I would say the use of the term feminism has gone down, but the ideas and support of feminism has not,” Harris said.
Once there is an understanding about what feminism really means, the negative connotations will fade, according to the Feminist Majority website.
“It is in everyone’s interest to empower women, because when you empower women, you empower everyone.” Hughes said.