Autumn Maurice and Madelyn Guinn

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.