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Posted: 18th April 2024

Each time a woman stands up for herself, without knowing it possibly, without claiming it, she stands up for all women” – Maya Angelou

How far has feminism actually come?

Given the events that have occurred over the last 150 years, you would think that the feminist movement has come a long way, which arguably, it has: From the suffragette movement, resulting in the right to vote, to almost equal pay for both genders. However, despite these successes, it is clear that the global expansion of social media has drastically slowed down the progress of feminism.

Social media and its impacts on feminism…

Primarily, it is important to highlight the constructive nature of social media in feminism. Social media acts as a unique bridge that connects women across the world, which allows them to voice their concerns and stand up for the injustices that unfortunately still exist. Social media was the main catalyst that converted traditional feminism to modern feminism. It’s allowed an increase in awareness about real challenges that millions of women face such as: equal pay in a workplace, the right to an education and in particular protection against sexual harassment and assault.

I’m a feminist because I’ve known sexism since I was 8 years old” – Emma Watson

An extraordinary woman and actress Emma Watson, who stood against the difficult and dehumanizing challenges that arose from her rising fame, is an iconic example of one of the many women who have set out to fight on the frontline for those who are unable to avenge themselves.

Emma Watson has had an impressive career which started at a young age of 10 years old. Her fame exponentially rose after starring in the Harry Potter series. However, an even more impressive achievement is that she is now the UN Women Goodwill ambassador. Watson uses her social media platform to advocate all sorts of issues and movements. For example, she advocates her HeForShe movement (which aims to mobilize men and other genders to advocate for gender equality) and encourages her millions of followers to join and support the movement.

Her passion and determination to bring about change has inspired many young women, providing them with a glimmer of hope for a better future for them and the generations to come after them. Emma Watson’s work is evidence of the powerful impact of social media as the HeForShe movement registered over 2.1 million online commitments worldwide and the campaign even managed to outlaw child marriage in Malawi.

Despite social media having a vast positive impact in the world, it also comes with horrendous side effects. It’s well documented, the mental pain, vulnerability and havoc adults, and in particular teenagers, experience after being exposed to impossible beauty standards that are being advertised across all platforms. A study found that ‘about 65% of students were in the normal-weight range, but only about 54% perceived themselves as “about the right weight’. This highlights how female teenagers encapsulate false images and internalize them which often leads to harm to the women’s body image, mental health and self-esteem. Social media has the capability of touching the hearts of billions and completely altering their lives for the better, however, it also has the destructive capabilities of demolishing, corrupting and utterly butchering the innocent, developing minds of many teenagers and even adults.

I believe this displays how there are gaps that still need to be filled and how the feminist ideology is constantly challenged as the world grows and develops. As a teenager in the 21st century, I am extremely grateful for the strong and passionate women before me who have bravely fought battles so that I can get basic human rights which would’ve been way out of my reach around 100 years ago. I am very proud of how far feminism has come and I intend to be a part to fill in those gaps.

Dhruti Shah, student