Op-ed: ” You Say Feminism, I Say…”
You say, “potato,” I say “potahto”; you say “feminism,” I say “Take out the trash.” Joking aside, the previous statement does not support my actual beliefs. However, I do believe that feminism has evolved (scratch that, devolved) from the days when courageous women such as Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton protested against female oppression in the late 1920’s. Radical feminists and misandrists of recent day like Alice Echols and Andrea Dworkin solely protest against men.
The terms “women’s rights” and “feminism” are often used ambiguously. As a wholehearted supporter of women’s rights, I believe women should have the same rights, pay, and respect as men do. I do not support, however, the hypocritical division portrayed by modern-day “feminists.” These “feminist” women often make statements such as, “Women only make 77% of what men make,” or “Women in this country get paid less than men.” What these women fail to recognize from these tenacious platitudes is that they are littered with falsehoods.
“Women make 77% of every dollar men make.” We hear this quite often as of late. Contrary to popular belief, this is not because of gender; rather, it is the average taken from the annual income from American men and women. The reason for this gender wage gap isn’t because men simply get paid more for the same job; rather, it has to do with the professions that males and female choose to undertake. According to an article in The Daily Beast, the majors and minors men choose result in more lucrative pay than those chosen by women.
29% of moms are stay-at-home, and according to the U.S. Census Bureau, 80% of single parents are women, many of whom are on welfare. These two factors contribute immensely to the fact that the 77% statistic isn’t as much of a statistic as it is a political card played to female voters.
Modern day feminists will often disregard the inequalities that men face. In industries such as modeling, men make $200 less per photo than women. This inequality is rarely protested by feminists. On another note, why is it that men have to pay alimony and women don’t? Why is it that if a woman slaps a man, it is seen as an act of passion, but if a man slaps a woman, it is viewed as abuse? These double standards are not blatantly advertised; however, they exist and should be prevalent in our minds.
Another pestering aspect of modern-day feminism is the complete disregard for male sexual abuse. Feminists act as if men are never raped or used as sex slaves when in fact, this is the norm in countries such as Cambodia and Thailand. In the opening sequence of the movie Let’s Go to Prison, there are some startling facts about the number of rapes that occur in American prisons. Every year there are enough men raped in prison to fill up three football stadiums. Where are the feminists when they hear about this?
Calling sexual abuse a feminist issue removes the fact that men suffer from sexual abuse as well. Men and women alike need to be humanists, not supremacists or chauvinists, or even feminists.
I don’t like walking on my main road anymore. To get to my house from the center of town on, I have two options: take the back roads, or take the main road until I reach my house. I opt for the first choice. Although the main road saves time and hassle, it is also where, as women, we are the most prone to rude and disgustingly sexual remarks by teenage boys in their cars; this is called “cat-calling”.
Around the age of twelve, I could not walk on the main road without hearing some teenage boy cat-calling me. Since then, I opted to take the back roads, for less people take them. The frightening fact is that I am not the first, the only, or the last girl that this has happened to. Cat-calling does not only make the person being singled out uncomfortable and unsafe, but it is almost expected in society for the female to “deal with it.”
Cat-calling is one of the many symptoms of the lack of feminism in the patriarchal society that we live in today. Why do we need feminism, you might be asking? There should not be any reason why feminism needs to be justified in society; feminism is needed in society for a very simple reason: every human being on Earth, both females and males, deserve to be treated with the same degree of respect, have the same amount of rights, and freedoms as one another.
First of all, there is one misconception that must be cleared up. The definition of feminism is the theory of the political, economic, and social equality of the sexes (according to the Merriam-Webster dictionary). Feminism does not mean that women should try to overthrow and hate men; that is misandry. Feminists are not out for men’s blood; although the definition of feminism has been looked down upon so much in the patriarchal society, that misandry and feminism have been linked together.
Feminists fight for the freedom and respect that women still need in today’s society. “Well women look pretty free to me,” you might be thinking. However, today’s society advocates that women have it pretty good in life. That is false. If women were viewed equally as men were, women would not be looked down upon and judged for their bodies, or how many sexual partners they do or do not have; they would no longer be objectified by the media and society. They would no longer be socially limited to job positions, to breastfeeding in public, or to higher places in politics. Women would no longer have to justify to the government why they should have control of their own bodies and reproductive system, as opposed to the predominantly male political parties that choose what a woman can and cannot do with her body. I could write a novel why women are not at par with men in society, but I will cut to the chase.
A huge reason why we need feminism is to battle what is known today as “rape culture” in our society. What is rape culture? Rape culture is a culture that views rape as persistence, and that rape is “just the way things are.” But how can society accept rape culture? Why in the world is the killing and raping of million girls acceptable? How has this been brought about in today’s society?
Rape culture has been brought about to antagonize the victim of rape, by asking questions such as “Well, what were you wearing when he raped you? Did you lead him on? Did you have too much to drink? Who knows what you did to deserve this?” This line of questioning makes the victim of rape sound as though she (or he) (yes, male rape happens too) is at fault as to why she was raped.
Not until the last half of the 20th century was rape taken seriously as a crime, along with domestic abuse. This was due to the rape culture in society. Rape culture has taught men in society that it is all right, and expected to objectify women to the point that the claims of rape are viewed as “not a big deal.” or even that “she was asking for it.” As young ladies, we are taught how to not get raped in today’s society, when young men should be taught to not rape in the first place. Why is this acceptable? Why should one gender be constantly afraid of being targeted and hurt, while the other one does not?
Now, most of the male readers reading this are probably thinking, “Well, rape does not happen that often, does it?” Well, sexual harassment is equally as traumatizing as rape, and according to AWARE statistics, 79% of women have reported sexual harassment happen in the workplace alone. This does not count the sexual harassment women face on the subway, on the bus, walking down the street, being catcalled, or by their own family members.
From my personal experience, I have noticed that what we as women find to be sexual harassment, men seem to see it as normal. For example, the majority of men find catcalling to be a “complement” to women. Women, find it uncomfortable and degrading. Yet, large masses of population of men try to rebut this claim but saying that women secretly enjoy it. As a women myself, I can tell you that I do not secretly or openly enjoy being catcalled. It is not that hard to understand what women do want or do not want.
Men have been taught by society that they are entitled to women’s bodies and attention so much, that the women’s consent has been thrown out of the window. All these types of sexual harassment and rape have only contributed to rape culture. Rape culture has also manufactured the term “slut-shaming”, which shames a woman with insults because of how many sexual partners she has; this objectifies the woman again, making it look like because she has had a multitude of sexual partners, she almost deserves to be raped/ sexually abused. But what does the amount of sexual partners have to do with respecting someone and her consent? Why is it so shameful for women to be with whomever they want? And, furthermore, why aren’t men regarded in this way, as well?
Another reason why we need feminism is due to the large pay gap that exists between a man’s paycheck, and a woman’s paycheck. Why does the wage gap exist? The answer is simple: if a man and women work in the same office, the same career, why is the man paid more? This is due to the hours that the man and women work. Employers typically assign men to “overtime” jobs, or higher positions. Some employers will not even consider giving a female worker a raise of salary, as opposed to her male counterpart. This is due to the poor thought that women do not “need” the extra money, for society has conditioned both men and women that women will eventually find a suitor who will financially provide for women, as women’s main role in life is to bear and care for children. This gender role that has burdened women throughout the history of time still has an impact in today’s workforce for women. Why should a woman limit herself to becoming just a mother and wife to a man? Why should her employer decide that her ultimate role in life is to become a mother, instead of chasing career? And why are so many people okay with that? We need feminism to make everyone aware that both men and women deserve that raise if they worked for it, or that promotion if they earned it.
When men hear “feminism,” most automatically assume that the topic is only related to women’s rights. However, men need feminism as much as women do. “Boys don’t cry. You punch like a girl. Act like a man…” These sayings are often said to young boys in our society to reaffirm their masculinity. In other words, if you are a guy who is not proving his masculinity, you are compared to a girl, and viewed as weak. Why do men need to prove themselves to be accepted in society as a man? Why is being compared to a female such a degrading thing? Although we have become accustomed to hearing these sayings, it does not make them okay for parents or friends to re-assert them into young men’s brains. Feminism is also needed to spread awareness about male rape. Yes, males too get raped by women and men, but this does not mean that feminism ignores this fact. Feminism, again, does not mean that it is only advantageous to women, but for the equality of both sexes. Whether you want to call yourself a humanitarian or an egalitarian, you are still a feminist. Men can be feminists as well, for feminism does not exclude any gender or race.
Feminism is needed not only in America, but worldwide. It is needed in India, England, Brazil… name a country, and chances are, women are still not completely free or in danger. Feminism is needed to re-define the idea that women are still not on par with men—that they need to prove themselves to men to be of some worth. It is needed to prove to men that they do not need to be “manly” to be a man in today’s society. Feminism is needed to fight established and unfair gender roles, rape culture, objectification, violence, and the unequal treatment of men and women. Yes, women do have more freedoms than the past, but that is still not enough.
“Enough” will be when women are respected as equally as men are. Men and women do not need to be anatomically equal to have the same human respect or rights. We need feminism to encourage young girls to know that they should not have any restrictions because of their bodies or gender; that they should not be afraid to walk alone in the street.
You say “potato,” I say “potahto.” You say “feminism,” I say, “Get your facts straight.” We see abuse every day. We have become so accustomed to it, that we choose to ignore when others are looked down upon, or even shunned.
What do you think when you hear the word “Feminism”? Before I knew what the term properly meant, I thought it referred to a group of feisty women fighting for something that made no sense to me. Well, now I know what a feminist is, and I choose to become one.
By definition, feminism is the belief that men and women should have equal rights and opportunities. It is the theory of the political, economic and social equality of the sexes. Feminism is not the belief in just women rights. Women just happen to be the key supporters, because in this day and age, they are the ones being wronged the most.
One out of every six women will be raped. One out of every ten men will have been raped by the age of 20. It is estimated that there are 5,900 rapes or sexual assaults annually. Those are only the reported ones. As a feminist, these are the atrocities we try to stop. No one should ever have to experience being raped or sexually assaulted. Furthermore, no women should be asked what she was wearing to prove that she “deserved” rape. No means no, no matter gender, race, sexual preference, and clothing choices.
Let’s talk politics, where the largest and most controversial gender gap occurs. States have yet to reach total gender equality. Women only hold 23% of federal judgeships and 27% state judgeships. Only four women justices have ever served for the Supreme Court. Women only make up about 31.1% of all lawyers in our country, and roughly 11% of the largest law firms in the U.S do not have a single woman working there. In the 112th congress women hold 17 senate seats out of 100, and 92 out of 435 house seats. Not to mention we have yet to have a female president.
Let’s talk parenting. When you hear the word, whom do you think about first? Mother or father? Most say that they need the love and nurturing of their mother. Unfortunately, most will say less about their fathers. Why? Our society pushes so hard for women to be the loving ones and the fathers to be the correctors. No one likes being told what to do or corrected, so the father gets pushed out of the picture. Men all over the world fight for custody of their children, and hardly ever win. As of 2007 only 17 percent of men would win custody cases. (Yes, feminists insist on equal rights for men and women…not just women.)
Image is another scenario in the feminist realm. Maintaining one’s image is something every person seems to worry about—whether it is keeping the body in shape, not having acne, or even portraying socially acceptable feelings. Men and women all over the world struggle with the thought of not being beautiful or handsome. We have the media to thank for placing these standards in our heads. Men conceal their feelings, so they are viewed as manly. Women hide their intelligence to yield to a man’s ideas of the perfect women. People spend hours at the gym trying to get the perfect body. Men must be muscular and tall; women must be skinny and pretty. 10-15% of men will develop an eating disorder. 80-85% of women will develop an eating disorder. All cases of Alzheimer’s Disease, Autism, and Schizophrenia combined is roughly 12.1 million. Eating disorders top all of those with a whopping 30 million diagnoses.
As a nation, we must come together and fight for what we believe is right. Some may be against feminism, but most, when afforded the true definition of feminism, come to realize that they, too, are feminists. No one wants to see inequality happen, and degrade people. Ghandi once said: “Be the change you wish to see in the world.” This quote rings true. We have the power to stop the atrocities that inequality allows to continue. No one should be put down for skin color, gender, or race. Emma Watson said in her speech, “For He, For She Campaign”… “If not me, who? If not now when?”
The time to act is now.