photo by Annie Lomshek
The day after Donald Trump moved into 1600 Pennsylvania Ave, millions of Americans took to the streets from Washington D.C to Fairbanks, Alaska to declare that their rights weren’t up for grabs. At the Women’s March in Kansas City, I watched as thousands filled Washington Square Park to recognize how far women had come since the days of Susan B. Anthony and rally together for the continuing fight.
So when I hopped on Facebook the next day, you can imagine how surprised I was to see that in the midst of girl power pictures, my peers were sharing articles about being “over feminism.” Articles in which women wrote about their belief that the job of feminism was done. Women are already equal, they said.
*insert side eye here*
Feminism is not a velour tracksuit that can be thrown out when some fashion blogger declares it to be “over.” Feminism is more like a pair of jeans. It’s ever evolving, here to stay – and without it, women might still be wearing corsets and hoop skirts.
Despite what these articles might say, feminism is not and has never been about being better than men. It is and has always been about equality. Yes, there are radical feminists out there, but that doesn’t mean they speak for the whole movement. That would be like assuming that the Westboro Baptist Church speaks for all Christians.
However, I understand why some women might might feel disconnected from the movement. As a middle-class, suburban white girl, I don’t exactly feel the fist of the patriarchy striking me down, but I recognize that disparities and injustices still exist.
The U.S. is the only developed nation that doesn’t guarantee paid maternity leave, let alone paid leave for both parents. Almost half of the world’s countries do – including Saudi Arabia. So unless you’re willing pop into the office a day after popping a baby out, we still need feminism.
The pay gap affects all subsets of women, from the Bonner Springs teen who made a quarter less per hour than her male co-worker to the gold medalist soccer players who make less than their medal-less male equivalents.
It’s bad enough that on average women make only $0.80 for every dollar men make, but for women of color, the gap is even worse; they make between 54-63 percent less compared to what white men make. If life were a test, some women are getting F’s despite doing A work. The gap may have narrowed over time, but we are still failing a huge group of women in this country.
We still need feminism.
Wherever you stand on the abortion issue, it’s impossible to deny that the recent closings of Planned Parenthood and other women’s health providers is devastating to the women who depend on the clinics for services like mammograms, pap smears and birth control. At least 162 clinics have closed nationwide since 2011.Texas, in particular has lost more than half of theirs, leaving many women several hours from a clinic, and far less likely to seek out the life-saving preventative medical treatments they provide.
We still need feminism.
When women comprise only 24.8 percent of state legislatures and only 19.4 percent at the federal level, we still need feminism. When society lets skirt length and intoxication excuse the actions of a rapist, we still need feminism. When more than 130 million young girls across the world aren’t able to attend school, we still need feminism.
If you aren’t convinced by now that feminism is still relevant and important then I don’t think any statistic will ever change your mind. I’m not asking you burn your bra or shun all the men in your life, only to think logically. If you are lucky enough to have the privilege to feel secure in your belief that you are equal to the men in your life, that doesn’t mean you should go around criticizing feminism. Because the fact of the matter is, the rest of us still have progress to make.