I can never decide what the best method is for dealing with Facebook ‘friends’ who share pro-Trump articles or articles about how feminists are dramatic attention-seekers. I have tried deleting them, but that just doesn’t seem to achieve anything besides a temporarily blissful absence of their ignorance. A ‘friend’ of mine recently shared an article from The Odyssey (not exactly the most promising of starts) titled, “I Am A Female and I Am So Over Feminists.” I read the article with as open a mind as I could muster, and decided that it is a topic that must be addressed.
Yes, I completely fall into the trap. People attack feminists for being overly angry and bitter, and I become (justifiably) angry and bitter. But still, I can’t help myself – I can’t just go about my day when this ignorance is placed so directly in front of me, almost calling out to me to address it.
The article, bursting with ignorance and popular misconceptions, attacks feminism for discouraging chivalry and for “blaming men and society about how we continue to ‘struggle’.” The author makes statements such as “We’re doing a kick-ass job, so let’s stop complaining” and “Relax feminists, we’re okay.” Are we okay, though? I’m glad that one woman believes she is entitled to decide for the entire female gender that women are “okay.” Ignoring the fact that women everywhere endure sexism that she may not be experienced, it’s okay – because “we’re doing a kick-ass job.”
The author identifies herself as “a very strong and independent female” who doesn’t feel “the need to put down the opposite gender for every problem [she] endures.” My question is that what feminists do? Go around blaming men for everything from having to get their car towed to breaking a heel? I think not.
The author also writes, “Let’s be realistic ladies, just as much as they are boneheads from time to time, we have the tendency to be a real pain in the tush… We don’t have to pretend we don’t need our men every once in a while. It’s OK to be vulnerable”. Belittling the feminist cause to men being “boneheads” and the idea that feminists are not comfortable being “vulnerable” is despicable. It is disrespectful to the women whose blood, sweat, and tears made it possible for women to even vote.
Feminism, at its core, is about equality between men and women. So I have to ask, how can any person, let alone woman, not believe that women should be treated with the same respect that a man is treated with? How can any woman not believe that she should earn the same pay as a man with the exact same job as her? How can any woman not see value in fighting the feminist cause just because “we’ve already come so far?” Sure, we’ve achieved change, but that in no way means that we should be finished fighting.
Some cannot see the inherent sexism within the US or the UK, despite how apparent US election media coverage has made it. It can be seen in the way that a man will shake the hand of every man in a room he just walked into, but ignore the women. These small-scale issues may seem frivolous, but they are indicative of a much larger problem, particularly for women of colour. We cannot reduce feminism to a cause merely built on men being “boneheads”.
One cannot claim that just because one woman does not experience gender inequality, feminists must be exaggerating the fact that so many do. Feminism is not just about one woman’s experience. It is about the experiences of women everywhere.
Is it really a coincidence that the wage gap between men and women is as high as 21 percent in some places? The Institute for Women’s Policy Research (IWPR) published a report that stated, “In 2015, female full-time workers made only 79 cents for every dollar earned by men.” The report added, “Women, on average, earn less than men in virtually every single occupation for which there is sufficient earnings data for both men and women to calculate an earnings ratio.”
The author of The Odyssey article in question emphasised how much women have achieved and will continue to achieve, but she is sorely mistaken. The IWPR reports, “If change continues at the same slow pace as it has done for the past fifty years, it will take 44 years—or until 2059—for women to finally reach pay parity.” To anyone who claims that we do not need feminism: are they really okay with the majority of women waiting another 44 years to earn equal pay?
Feminism is not saying that all men and women are the same. It is saying that any differences between one person and another as a result of their gender should not impact on how a person is treated, seen or paid. While we have made great strides in the past few decades, we are still far from where we need to be.