Women owe feminism a LOT. More than a lot.
Even if a certain Tumblr says we don’t. I would estimate that the vast majority of people that think we don’t need feminism have no clue what feminism actually means, or advocates, or campaigns for.
Much of the freedom and equality we enjoy today comes from a movement that stemmed less than two hundred years ago, when a growing number of women grew tired of being seen as lesser beings than their male counterparts. Yes, we have it good nowadays. We have rights, we have birth control, we can stay out as late as we want, but we wouldn’t have any of these freedoms without feminism. So I lay forth many reasons why feminism is still important to this day.
1. Because feminism is NOT about hating men. It does not advocate the oppression of males. That would just be stupid, considering the fact that the point of feminism is to bring women out of oppression and onto the same level as men.
2. Because finding ways of blaming a rape victim (what was she wearing? was she drunk? was she flirting?) is a despicable practice. Why should we be asking these questions of rape victims when victims of other crimes aren’t? I don’t suppose for a second a victim of burglary or murder would be treated in the same way depending on the clothing they were wearing at the time. And that’s not to say that men aren’t victims of rape, or that women don’t ever rape. It’s just that the vast majority of rape victims happen to be female, and the vast majority of the perpetrators, the ones that appear in court for their crimes, are male.
3. Because women are still slut-shamed, whilst men are mostly not. I have never heard of a guy being called “easy” because he had sex on a first date.
4. Because we are still told what we can and can’t do with our bodies. We are told we should breastfeed and then we are kicked out of restaurants/swimming pools/shopping centres when we do so because we should be modest and discreet.
5. Because we are told how our bodies should look, what we should wear, how much body hair to have, how much make up to wear and if we fall outside of the safe zone we are told we are unfeminine. We are not allowed to have wrinkles or stretch marks or saggy tits without it being seen as a “flaw”.
6. Because the normal “route” a woman is still expected to take in life is that of wife and mother. People still can’t seem to understand when a girl says marriage isn’t what she wants in life, or that she doesn’t want to have children. Those same life goals aren’t expected of men.
7. Because it’s still big news when companies like Disney hire a female to direct an animated blockbuster.
8. Because in Hollywood, women are asked how they juggle their work and home life and men are not.
9. Because western governments are still predominantly composed of middle/upper class white males, which only makes sense in those countries where the population consists only of middle/upper class white males. Yes, governments are a lot more proportionally representative than they used to be, but there is still a long way to go.
10. Because sexist and derogatory remarks about women are passed off as “banter” and if a woman or girl speaks up and defends herself she is seen as “uptight” or “hormonal” or told to “calm down”.
11. Because men need feminism, too. Men don’t need to be shamed or told they are feminine for having emotions. Boys don’t need to feel like they have to be “macho” or “tough guy” to be accepted. Boys should be allowed to play with dolls and play kitchens because one day they might need to feed themselves and they might even end up fathering children.
12. Because when men do end up becoming fathers and they do something fatherly, like taking their children out or going on play dates or becoming a stay-at-home dad, they are hailed as some kind of saint for doing what mothers are expected to do every day without much exaltation. And it shouldn’t be like that. I love seeing men make an effort with their children. Nothing makes me glow more brightly with happiness than seeing my partner doting on our daughters, but this shouldn’t be an anomaly. We’ve come a long way from Mary Poppins-style parenting roles (Mr Banks’ children could probably have done with more doting from their father) but there’s still a long way to go.
13. Because female genital mutilation, female virginity tests and sex-selective abortions still happen in many countries. We may have a certain level of freedom and equality in the western world but in too many developing countries women don’t stand a chance.
14. Because women are taxed on sanitary products. According to tax law, they are deemed as an unnecessary, luxury product. I wonder how unnecessary and luxurious they’d seem if we all stopped using them and bled all over the place, or if every woman took a week off work around her period because she couldn’t face going in.
15. Because in the UK, on average, women earn 80.9p for every £1 a man makes for the same work. So basically, the 19.1p we are being swizzed on is a tax on having a vagina (in addition to tampon tax, which is essentially punishing us for having a uterus). The issue is being challenged in some places in America (where on average women earn 76c for every dollar a man makes), with pop up shops springing up where women are charged 76% of the ticket price, while men are charged full price. This might seem unfair on men, but it’s no more unfair than the gender pay gap, which will take 70 years to close if it continues to close at the current rate.
16. Because human trafficking is still rife across the globe, and it is mainly women and young girls that are trafficked, and sex trafficking is the predominant sector into which these people are coerced.
Feminism is not about ditching men and becoming lesbians. It incorporates “fem” in it’s title because at the time of its birth, females truly were oppressed and they had to fight real damn hard* for the luxury of freedom that we have today, but it remains a movement that fights for the equality of both sexes and it still hasn’t reached all of its goals.
When we live in a world where feminism is no longer necessary, when we don’t have to fight for our own bodies and pay equality and the freedom to have or not have children, then it will have done its job. But until that day I truly believe we all need feminism.
*if you want to know just how much women have had to fight for, read this even longer list – it’s a timeline of feminism in the UK and is a huge eye-opener.