Hear me out: I’m a feminist

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Hear me out: I’m a feminist

Katlyn Sherinian, staff writer

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Feminism is the advocacy of equality between genders. Unfortunately, the word feminism  has developed a negative connotation. It has become a running joke that feminists are angry women who hate men. However, feminism is merely the simple idea that the treatment of men and women should be equal.

 

Some Americans see no use for feminism in our society. After all, women can vote, they can own land, they occupy 47% of the workforce, what more could they want?

 

While these are all positive societal progressions, there are still many laws that are outdated and sexist. For example, in North Carolina, there is a law that states that once intercourse begins, one cannot withdraw consent. Changing this law would benefit everyone; both men and women can be victims of rape. Full consent is only given if there is an option to walk away. In Alabama, Maryland, Minnesota, North Dakota, and New Mexico rapists have parental rights. There are no laws preventing child custody to a rapist. Just imagine being raped and getting pregnant then being forced to share custody with the rapist. That is absolutely senseless.

 

Sadly, another problem is that first world feminists are often told to relax and be appreciative for the progress that has been made in women’s rights. They are told that at least first world feminists are not oppressed like women in third world countries. A woman in Pakistan was told that she did not need feminism because she was born in the city. As a result, she was not married off to men twice her age. Twenty-one percent of girls in Pakistan are forced to be married off before age 18. A woman who was married off to her uncle at 15  was told that she doesn’t need feminism because her husband doesn’t beat or throw acid at her. This line of thinking that someone will always be worse off, that there is no reason to complain as long as you are not being mistreated—this line of thinking excuses oppression at all levels. This line of thinking must change.

 

Obviously, feminism is needed. It is needed worldwide. Feminism is about empowerment. It is about empowering women to feel comfortable expressing themselves through words, actions, and clothing.  It is about women speaking assertively and not being called a derogatory name. It is about women being paid fair wages. It is about women being able to wear a skirt without the fear of being catcalled.   

 

Yes, let’s go there . . . let’s discuss the way women dress. Some men think there is an unwritten rule: if you show it, I can touch it. Some women agree. Exposed skin is not an invitation. A short skirt or low-cut blouse is not to be blamed for a sexual assault. The only person at fault is the attacker. Women should not have to live in fear of being judged or assaulted based on what they are wearing.

 

Girls are taught at a young age that their bodies are sexual objects; that they need to covered up in order to avoid lustful looks and actions. Girls are being taught that they are responsible for the actions of others. Shouldn’t we rather be teaching all people to control their urges? Anne K. Ream, advocate for women’s rights and founder of the Voices and Faces project, makes an excellent point:

 

It’s not a lack of female modesty

But a sense of male entitlement

That leads to sexual violence

And the idea that we women

Can change men’s behavior

By changing our clothes

Is not only disconcerting

It has been debunked

As millions of women know all too well,

No one will ever avoid rape

by wearing a longer skirt

~Anne K. Ream

 

 

Unfortunately, one of the main problems with feminism is the extremists. Every group is going to have extreme members. As with any other issue, extremists need to be considered as outliers and should not muddle up the important truths. Most people agree with our right that all people should be treated equally regardless of gender.

 

Feminism, at its core, is about striving for equality between genders. Think before you laugh at a sexist joke at the expense of another person. Think of your sister, mother, grandmother and aunt. Let’s come together and create a more accepting world for everyone.