Being a feminist is like being a union member: no one wants to be one, but everyone wants to reap the benefits of the work that they do.
Feminists have been instrumental in getting women the right to vote (let’s face it, men wouldn’t have given them that right when they did if it hadn’t been for the feminists), the right to enter into contracts and own property, the right to custody when there is a divorce, among other things. That’s just the First Wave feminists.
Since then the world has opened up for women. Women make more than they used to (although they still don’t make as much as men in many jobs); are represented in higher numbers in areas like sports, science, medicine, law, engineering, the military, religion and politics; have more rights (including reproductive rights) and hold higher positions of authority.
All of these advances came about because of the feminist movement. They certainly were not promoted by anti-feminists and conservatives. We would do well to keep that in mind.
On the other hand, there are those who think that we no longer need the feminist movement, that its work is done. Nothing could be further from the truth. Consider:
- Our political participation, while better than it used to be, is still far behind what it should be for gender equity.
- Women still make about 79% of what men make for equitable work.
- Mothers are discriminated against in the workplace.
- Quality and affordable child care is practically non-existent.
- Women pay more than men do for similar services.
- Women are often charged higher insurance premiums.
- Women are less likely to have insurance and other benefits.
- Research into women’s health issues is still lagging behind research into men’s.
- Women are still sorely under-represented in religion and undercompensated in upper management.
- Body image issues are a bigger hurdle for women than for men. (This includes aging.)
- Women are perceived as having less power and authority–and consequently do.
- Rape is still a crime that is difficult to prosecute; women are still being treated as being partly to blame.
- Domestic violence and homelessness among women is at a all-time high.
- Women are still concentrated in lower-paying, lower status jobs.
- “Women’s” professions are notoriously lower-paid than comparable “men’s” professions.
- Women still do most of the housework, even if they work outside of the home as well.
- Care-giving tasks still fall squarely on women’s shoulders.
And then there is the issue of socialization, which means that girls are still being trained to be more passive and less ambitious (while boys are being trained to hide their emotions and to solve their problems physically). Where girls are taught to react and to give while boys are taught to act and to take. Where girls are taught that how they look matters more than what they do.
Feminists are not the enemies of women, or of men, for that matter. They are a necessary component in our society. Without them we would be so much worse off. One reason I write this blog is because I believe all of that. I’m not so much trying to convince women–and men–to join the cause as I am trying to point out that problems still exist and need to be addressed. Call yourself whatever you want to as long as you’re willing to do something about the injustices in our society.
Source about pay equity: National Committee On Pay Equity.