When most people hear the word “feminist” many things go through their mind. Man-hating women. Women who believe that they deserve special privileges. But none of these are what the they truly believe in: equality. According to the Cambridge Dictionary, feminism is “the belief that women should be allowed the same rights, power, and opportunities as men and be treated in the same way” (Cambridge Dictionary). Some don’t even see the problem, not understanding what the fuss is about, and that men and women are treated equally now anyway, and don’t understand all the fuss that is being made about it.
Well, I see a problem when asking a trio of eighth graders what they thinking women are capable of, they respond with “sex and making sandwiches.” I see a problem when I see a boy being shamed in the hallway for wearing a pink shirt. I see a problem when girls being sent home from school everyday because their clothes are deemed “to distracting for other students,” showing us that a male’s education is more important than theirs.
Most instances of gender discrimination often goes unnoticed, because they have become so normal they are almost invisible. Like why are all of our sports not co-ed? Why do we have separate bathrooms, separate sections in the stores? Why are we segregating ourselves? Why is it so ignored by our society? Sexism has become so deeply ingrained into our society that it is not even addressed. There are many parallels between racism and sexism. According to Laurence Thomas, a professor of philosophy and political at Syracuse, “racist attitudes are relatively easier to give up than sexist ones” (Thomas 240). In his essay, “Sexism and Racism: Some Conceptual Differences,” he wrote: “If a black were to report to his colleagues (all of whom are white) that he had just been called a “nigger”…his colleagues would convey considerable sympathy for having been subjected to such extreme vocal abuse. But if a women were to report to her colleagues (all of whom are male) that she had just been called a “chick,” “fox,” or even a “dumb broad,”…they would be less inclined to view her as deserving of or in need of sympathy” (Thomas 239-240). Racism is usually taken pretty seriously, but feminism is not. We need feminism because it would simply acknowledge that everyone is human and deserves the same treatment.
Feminism is also desperately needed because sexism quickly grows in the minds of today’s youth. When we were in kindergarten we were asked the question “What do you want to be when you grow up?” We hear the little boys say police officer, firefighter, doctor. And from the girls we hear ballerina or fashion designer. What is this telling the girl in corner of the room who wants to go into the military like her father, or the boy who aspires to be the the best stay-at-home dad he can be? This is showing them that just because of how they were born, they have to follow a pre-set ground of morals that tells them what they can and cannot be.
I also find an issue when it has been proven that yelling the word ‘fire’ is more effective than yelling the word ‘rape.’ I see something wrong when NFL player Ray Rice is suspended for only two games for abusing his fiancée to unconsciousness, while a sixteen game suspension is assigned for the smoking marijuana (Morris), which is sending all of us a clear message that abusing another human is less important than abusing a drug. I see a problem that cheerleading is no longer considered a sport when boys are part of the team, showing that boys can’t be taken seriously if they do something that is traditionally feminine. I need feminism because even though it is statistically proven that women vote more than men, but they still make up less than 20% of the seats in Congress, and because there is still a 23% wage gap between men and women (Cavanagh).
Being a feminist is not about what you look like, how much makeup you wear, what gender you are, or who you date. Feminism does not mean punishing men or belittling them. Feminism isn’t about making women strong. They already are. It’s about changing the way the world perceives strength.
Cambridge Dictionary. Cambridge Dictionaries Online. Cambridge University, 2014. 18 Oct. 2014.
Cavanagh, Casey. “Why We Still Need Feminism.” huffingtonpost.com. Huffington Post, 18 Sept. 2014. Web. 25 Oct. 2014.
Morris, Benjamin. “The Rate of Domestic Violence Arrests Among NFL Players.” fivethirtyeight.com. ESPN, 31 July 2014. Web. 24 October 2014.
Thomas, Laurence. “Sexism and Racism: Some Conceptual Differences.” Encyclopedia of Ethics: P-W. January 1980. Web. 18 Oct. 2014.