feminism / gender / sexism / sisterhood / stereotypes

Why We Still Need Feminism

We need feminism, desperately. Now before you groan and think that feminism is one big man-hating rant, hear me out. Whether you love the phrases “girl power” and “equality of the sexes” or not, our society holds a very negative stigma against the pursuit of equality for girls. Feminists have been dubbed as “feminazis” and their passion has been branded as bitterness. Are some people afraid of the power women may hold? Absolutely. Should they be? Yes, they should. Women are the powerful, intelligent equals to men.

Why do we need feminism?

Because people are being taught sexism. Young adults, and quite frankly in my persona experience mostly young men, are being taught that women’s rights are stupid and a joke. The other day, I was sitting on the bus. A boy, my age, said to me: “Hey, wanna hear a joke?” I tried my hardest to conceal the fact that I was cringing as he’d told me ‘jokes’ before: they were nearly always sexist or vulgar. He repeated himself: “Wanna hear a joke?” and without waiting for my answer he yelled “Women’s rights!”

That was his punch line. Women’s rights was the punch line. I had to turn away and bite my tongue, so I wouldn’t say a scathing remark that would embarrass him in front of his friends. Who taught him that women’s rights was a joke? I couldn’t believe that yet another human being believed that they were superior to another person because of their anatomy.

How are women treated unequally?

Unfortunately, the easier question would be how aren’t women treated unequally. Yes, I know that not all guys treat women poorly and there are loads of nice guys out there, but those nice guys have not been in charge of our society for the past two thousand years. The aggressive, determined, arrogant men have been in charge.

How could they not have been like that? Men stereotypically have the physical upper hand on women; they can easily be in control should they want to be. Eventually, men learned that they could easily dominate a woman, and they taught their sons and the cycle of misogyny was born. Ever since, women have been raped, murdered, sold, traded, beaten and oppressed.

A recent study said one-third women will be sexually assaulted at one point in their lives. Another study said that one-third men said they would be willing to rape if they knew there would be no consequences. {SOURCE} So around 30% of our global population will experience rape, whether as a victim or as a rapist. The thing that disgusts me the most is that rape is not about sex: it’s about dominance. As immoral as it may seem, someone could just, say, hire a prostitute if they desired to have sex that badly. But, it’s not about sex, it’s about dominating the other person, and many men have been taught that women can be physically dominated.

A survey by Lisa Shea asked high school boys: “When is rape okay?” along with a set of conditions. 39% of these young men said rape is okay if she is: stoned or drunk, or has had sex with other guys. An even larger 54% agreed that rape is okay if the woman had led them on, or had changed her mind suddenly to no. It’s not okay that young adults – our future – have been taught that such oppression is ‘okay’ under certain circumstances. Equality does not come with a terms and conditions list.

Women can and should be encouraged to be just as successful and intelligent as any men. Unfortunately, there’s a rather large group of people in the world, dubbed ‘meninists’, who believe women are simple minded and belong in the kitchen, working hard to make their man happy. Sure, if a woman loves being in the kitchen, she can go right ahead, but no one can tell her she belongs there. These self-titled ‘meninists’ usually use this tired old phrase to back up their anti-equality campaign:

“Name one thing a woman has done to change history.”

For one thing, there are hundreds of billions of things that women have done to change history. Take Malala Yousafzai, for example. She refused to stop going to school as the government banned women from attending school and she anonymously wrote a blog that brought awareness to women’s education rights. She was shot in the head in an attempt to stop her from speaking up, but she survived.

Now Malala is a household name and there is much work to help with women’s education rights due to her actions.

How can women have made a difference when they have been forbidden (and often still are) from obtaining the same education that men are? Being educated is vitally important when attempting to create even the slightest change, and many women have been withheld that right. According to ‘Because I Am A Girl,’ there are over 62 million girls out of school worldwide. These brilliant young women are being prevented from having the ability to create the change we need to see in the world. Not shockingly so, 70% of people living in poverty are women. The limitation of education to women is a direct cause in that situation.

Many young girls are being treated as objects from the very first day in their lives. They may stay home and watch their brothers go off to school and experience a world of knowledge. They may be catcalled in the street because they wore a dress that day. They may be one of the 15 million newly married child brides each year. They may be raped and then told:“Why couldn’t you just keep your legs closed? It’s your fault,” or: “You were drunk and wearing something revealing, you were asking for it,” or the worst one of all: “Boys will be boys.”

No, boys will not ‘just be boys,’ they will be held accountable for their actions – just like everybody else.

I do not hate men or boys – at all. I know that there are so many people who genuinely believe that women are equal to men and that is fantastic, but there are still so many who are sexist. I am so lucky to live in a country where men and women are relatively equal, but I cannot be happy knowing that there are so many women being oppressed. Canada is a country where we are equal, where women and men have an equal literacy rate of 99%, but there are developing countries with inequalities such as a 30%+ gap in their literacy rates.

I refuse to be inferior. I am a girl, I am intelligent, and I am equal – we all are. I refuse to suffer because I am a girl. We need to change the world, we need to eliminate rape culture and physical violence and we need to educate and empower women.

Everyone, male, female or other, should stand up against the extremely outdated practice of sexism and cruelty against women: our very future depends on it. As the very young and brilliant feminist Malala Yousafzai once said:

“We cannot all succeed when half of us are held back.”

 
– Taylor Marie Jones

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