What is feminism? Feminism is the idea that men and women are equal. Yes, equal. Not one gender is better than the other. I believe that feminism should be openly discussed more freely, so that we as people can bring attention to the very important issues that it stands for. However, it is necessary that people are educated on what feminism means, before they go on to discuss it; for it has been, and continues to be, misconceived. Some might ask, “Why is it so important? Aren’t women and men already equal?” The answer to that is no, not even close. Yes, we as a nation have made great progress in women’s rights, but there is still much to be done. For example, in America women still don’t receive equal pay, and are very much still oppressed and harassed. Feminism is a very relevant topic of discussion with President Trump in office, for he has put revoking the funding of (Planned Parenthood, an organization that provides birth control, sex education and more,) along with the legality of reproductive rights, into discussion, accompanying him making misogynistic comments, and being accused of sexual assault by multiple women.
Feminism also includes women outside of America. In fact, women in second and third world countries are not offered what some would think is a given. For example, women in Saudi Arabia have just been given the right to drive. Many of these women are the same women who don’t have access to safe medical care, and have unjust laws concerning sexual harassment and domestic violence. Actually, there are about 20 countries that don’t outlaw domestic violence, including Egypt, Lebanon, and Kenya. Many countries also haven’t outlawed marital rape. There are even countries that have punished rape victims by throwing them in prison.
An abundance of girls worldwide are denied education till this day. Malala Yousafzai was shot in the face as a young girl because she believes that women deserve the opportunity of education. Currently, many of these women remain uneducated and can barely afford to feed themselves as adults.
Various women don’t have access to menstrual products, making them prone to infection and discomfort. In America women are taxed on these products because they are considered “luxury,” yet men’s razors are tax free because they are a “necessity.” Not to mention women’s razors, deodorant, and other personal hygiene products are sold for much more, just because they’re “for women.”
Women are openly objectified and harassed day after day, yet the majority of people who can do something, do nothing. At as young as twelve years old, my friends and I were already getting honked and whistled at. Things like this are part of rape culture, or an “environment in which rape is prevalent and in which sexual violence against women is normalized and excused in the media and popular culture.” Defines Marshall University Women’s Center. They also describe rape culture as something that is “perpetuated through the use of misogynistic language, the objectification of women’s bodies, and the glamorization of sexual violence, thereby creating a society that disregards women’s rights and safety.” Some other examples of rape culture are victim blaming (she was wearing _____ ; therefore, she asked for it,) underestimating and excusing sexual assault, sexualized jokes, and teaching women to abstain from getting raped, instead of teaching men not to rape. The last example is very prevalent in some schools’ dress codes, where teen girls are taken out of class and are restricted from their education because their shoulders are showing per say, and it’s “distracting to boys.”
Women are constantly shamed for the way they look, dress, act, and feel. We are taught to be “ladylike,” “submissive,” and “nice,” and men are taught to be “strong,” “authoritative,” and “opinionated.”Women are regularly held at a double standard, as opposed to men. For example, when a man has multiple partners, he’s seen as “cool;” however, when a woman has multiple partners, she is name called and shamed. Women also aren’t given enough credit for the same ideas, or given the same opportunities as men. They don’t even get paid the same amount for working the same job!
On top of all of this, women are put under constant pressure to look, act, and feel a certain way at all times. Society has shaped its own “perfect woman,” and if you don’t meet those standards, you are seen as “less beautiful” and “less of a woman.” Society has taught us that we should see certain things as “flaws” by rarely representing them, and instead editing them away. Instead of seeing these “flaws” as natural, we see them as ugly and unacceptable. These flaws include stretch marks, belly rolls, and even disability and skin color. Yes, women are oppressed and for their disabilities, and are still shown prejudice because of their race. All of these things are rarely represented in the media, and often ridiculed, especially in the talent industry.
Additionally, there is a large percentage of men who still believe in male hierarchy, including many men in positions of authority, and use this superiority to make women feel scared, vulnerable, and many times pressure women into doing things, or acting in a way, that they are uncomfortable with. Take Harvey Weinstein for example, for he is a man in a position of authority who used his high ranked job to sexualy assult women on numerous occasions. Specifically with men at high ranks and positions of authority, this behavior is often pardoned. It’s very hard to come out and talk about your experience with sexual assault, especially if your job or anything else could be on the line. Sexual assault is sometimes disregarded and not taken seriously, which is another major issue that must be resolved.
I believe that feminism should be openly discussed more freely, so that we as people can bring attention to the very important issues that it stands for. We are told not to talk about many of these things because they are sometimes considered “taboo,” but progress requires change. We as people need to stop putting women in boxes, we must discuss the issues at hand, and educate others about feminism, what it stands for, and why it’s so important and necessary in today’s society. Men and women are equal; therefore, they should be treated that way. Equality is not only a want, it is a need.