Feminism: Is it Needed?
March 8, 2017
In order to know why feminism is needed today, one has to know what “feminism” means. The actual definition of feminism is “the advocacy of women’s rights on the basis of the equality of the sexes.” Yes, equality of the sexes, not the overshadowing of men as one often thinks. Some people may shy away from the word “feminist” because they picture radical feminists, the ones who take the fight way too far, and instead of fighting for equality, they desire supremacy. Feminists are getting a bad rep because the first thing people picture is a big group of radical feminists chanting “kill all male babies” and yelling at various white men on Twitter.
Living in a society where people vote for one presidential candidate simply because he is running against a woman makes you question whether the two sexes are truly equal. Although women’s rights might have come a long way in the past 100 years, the idea that women are equal just isn’t true. Yes, women do have more social, political, and economic rights than ever before, but the fact is that we still have to deal with the harmful side effects of gender inequality on a daily basis. We still have to deal with pay inequality, body-shaming, sex-shaming, slut-shaming, mansplaining (when a man explains something to a woman that he thinks he knows more about in a way that is condescending or patronizing, i.e. “Oh sweetie, I know you like that car, but here’s why I think it’s not a viable car to buy”), victim-blaming, and the constant erosion of our reproductive rights in terms of rights to abortions and artificial insemination or hysterectomies. So despite what non-feminists might say, it’s painfully evident that the global struggle for women’s rights is far from over, and we definitely still need feminism.
We are not feminists just for the women here in the U.S though. As a matter of fact, it is more needed across the globe. Women living in developing nations around the world are still being forced to cope with harsh, gender-specific health threats, and fight for basic rights like education. Women in third-world countries can’t get education, serious careers, or step out of line for any reason because they’re seen as a lesser sex. In developing countries, women are still subjected to lives of servitude and obedience. Domestic violence is often justified when a woman disobeys her husband and is beat because of it. In some countries, women don’t even get to own or inherit land; widowed women lose rights to land entirely because they gain access to the land through their marriage and actually possess no property rights.
Under Islamic law, there is a well-known term that’s been coined as “honor killing,” which basically states that women who dishonor their families may be killed by their relatives. Dishonorable women include those who have been raped, those who have engaged in premarital sex, those who have committed adultery, or even just those deemed dishonorable by relatives. Women are actually being killed in Egypt and Pakistan for getting sexually assaulted. There is also a procedure called female genital mutilation, or FGM, that has been performed on young girls in the Middle East and Africa in which a girl has all or most of her external genitalia removed. The procedure is typically used to ensure premarital virginity in young girls in cultures where female genitalia are considered “unclean.” Basically, FGM removes any possibility of sex being treated as a fun activity for the woman; this way, sex is only used for babies and babies alone.
In some countries in southern Asia, like India and Bangladesh, families may give men dowry, or an inheritance payment of sorts, in order for their daughters to be married so they don’t have to live with the shame of having an unmarried daughter. Women in many underdeveloped countries also lack any sort of legal protection, so they are often afraid to speak up about what’s happening to them for fear that they may not be heard or punished if they are. While the Americas may have caught up to the times as far as women’s rights, women in the East are still unable to show their wrists to people other than their husbands let alone get college degrees.
Even though the fight for equal rights among women and men has proved mostly successful in the last few decades, there are still lingering traditional views that are hindering us from achieving true equality. Many folks may be raised in households that still have traditional values, and since that is what they’re used to, they have not fully opened up their minds to the possibility of women being equal to or even higher than men in the workforce. Some folks are still stuck in the ‘60s where women were mostly nurses or teachers (if they worked at all) and worked far less than their predominantly breadwinning husbands. It has been almost 100 years since women earned the right to vote for leaders of the country, yet we still somehow treat them like they are less than their supposed human equivalent, men. Feminism is needed because most of the world is stuck in a traditional view, and it’s about time women got the place they deserve in society.
Alright ladies, throw away those razors, but don’t forget you’ve paid the pink tax! I am here to tell you that Trump is still your president, you have to wear a shirt in public, and everyone is oppressed. The problems of today aren’t exclusive to females. Don’t feel special. Right now, feminism is the most vehement social movement and sadly enough, all current feminism seems to be radical feminism. We aren’t looking at the 1960’s wave of feminism either, we’re talking about our brothers and sisters flooding the streets of Washington and various other locations in the world defacing others, criticizing those with different beliefs, and overall, making a complete mockery of what we’re really up against. We must stand together for what we believe in, not make a fool of other people in the process. If we do, we’re being counterproductive and that is what we fail to understand.
So what exactly is feminism? This question is hard to answer because the original intent of feminism consisted of one central theme, world peace and equality for all. This has completely belly flopped over the decades. Feminists nowadays are those who are representing misandry and above all acts, being complete hypocrites. Most recently, we have witnessed the Women’s March that stretched anywhere from Washington, D.C. to our own Indianapolis, Indiana. My biggest problem with the march is that if you have an issue with the president, speak to him like he has opinions and be respectful about it. Just because someone else is being ridiculous doesn’t mean you have to. We’re all guilty of it; if we disagree with someone, we can easily get defensive and ugly, but that isn’t always productive. I feel that sometimes, the best way to handle conflicts is to agree to disagree.
When you believe in something, you should allow others to express their beliefs as well without completely shutting them down. I completely understand the spectrum for why someone would be for or against abortion, for example. When it comes to something as vital to us as our rights, we can’t just call someone with such privileges orange. We have the right to protest the government and to express our grievances and I encourage that, but we can’t make fun of someone in the process. I don’t agree with all of Donald Trump’s policies, but he isn’t just affecting women. Ultimately, he is affecting all of us. If too many of those on the far-left side won’t even have an intellectual conversation with those on the far-right side, or vice versa, we’ll forget we’re all being oppressed by the government and our own society.
Many people have trouble with the feminist movement because of the supporters who then become “anti-men” and that more and more feminists call all men misogynists. Many radical feminists are now doing the exact opposite of the original intent. Equal rights? Equal rights doesn’t and can’t include women discriminating against men in any aspect. Some go to the measure to say things as “death to all men,” and that is disgusting. Those feminists who complain about the misogynists and say things like the aforementioned are no better, period. Meninism and misandry are equally awful. Again, if you are pleading equal rights, you can’t degrade someone else who you think has more rights than you do. At that point, you aren’t with them, you’re against them.
On a different note, many feminists use the argument that they are looked at as sex objects, but women are not the only ones sexualized. Everyone is sexualized. Whether a woman is walking around with a low-cut shirt or a man is strutting around without a shirt, we will look at their chest. This means our eyes are in the same direction and if we think he is attractive, that is the equivalent of sexualizing him. With that, many radical feminists are frazzled when a man opens a door for them or when a man offers to pay for dinner. Many times, I pay for a dinner and that isn’t a feminist statement. There is nothing wrong with chivalry. That’s me being polite.
Women have been respected for birthing and have been seen as goddesses for many generations in many cultures. There are numerous female superheroes in television, like Wonder Woman, Invisible Woman, Ms. Marvel, Jet, and the superhero to be, America Chavez, a queer Latina woman. It also upsets me that it is now a “feminist statement” when a woman cuts her hair, chooses to or not to shave, or have tattoos. Women have been wearing those for decades now; it isn’t always a statement.
As a woman, I realize that the idea of the pink tax seems unfair, but let’s dissect it a little bit. Women’s shirts are cut differently to fit breasts and curves into the measurements. It is harder to make the shirt, therefore raising the cost. I know it’s a hassle, it is annoying, but it’s understandable in the long run. Most “men’s” products are truly unisex. Most people who go to Hot Topic, for example, use the men’s section of clothing because the body type is straighter than that of a woman’s.
The wage gap is exaggerated as well. As much as we want to avoid stereotypes, men and women statistically apply for different jobs. Admittedly, more men are involved in construction and jobs that involve physical labor while women apply for jobs that involve paperwork, for instance. Moreover, there are men in higher paying fields. For instance, more men are doctors, electricians, and surgeons than women are. When we look at the General Motor’s controversy, we see that Mary T. Barra received a beginning salary that was less than her predecessor Dan Akerson. Her womanhood is not necessarily what directly affects her pay. Barra’s pay, according to a report by USA Today, is calculated by the company’s performance and is variable for her being a new, “at-risk” worker. Say there are two equally available and capable employees at the same age, but one is a women and one is a man. Honestly, the woman is automatically less likely if she is at an age where women commonly become pregnant. Many women join the workforce, birth children, and go back in their thirties after their children are able to take care of themselves. Also, 60% of college attendees are women. Many jobs automatically pay more if you have special training or a college degree. This means that the woman with a college degree has a much higher chance to receive the job that the man without a college degree was applying for.
We don’t need feminism, we need something better, something for everybody. At the end of the day, feminism is just too secluded and counterproductive. We have come very far since the 1900’s alone with the introduction of women’s’ suffrage, women working with different career initiatives, and more women involved in leadership, etc. I’ll admit, other countries need help where their rights truly are being violated under religious persecution. If this is the case, this is also more than a feminist movement, but an everyone movement where we all have to come together, without argument, to protect one another from such injustice. Feminism hasn’t presented itself with the same intentions as it once did and it’s moving people apart instead of bringing people together like feminists say they want it to.