Wednesday, May 4, 2016

is feminism still relevant?

Today, there is a lot of backlash around the term "feminist" because though it definitionally refers to the movement towards equality of the sexes, its name implies it is purely a female-serving movement. I think a lot of this backlash comes from the progress we've made. Back during the suffrage and in the feminist wave of the 70s, it was obvious men were on higher ground than women, so a movement that pushed women up seemed necessary. Now that the lines are blurred, there are still definite disadvantages to being a woman, but there are definite disadvantages to being a man as well. A movement designed to help elevate women to level the playing field now seems unnecessary to many, who decide because of the current equality of men and women, feminism's goal must actually be to elevate women above men. I would argue that this isn't true, though I do think women are nearly equal to men at this point, because one of feminism's major goals is to combat discrimination on basis of gender, which is still very relevant. One of the biggest social issues today is discrimination against transgender people, which is gender-based discrimination (as we talked about with title ix). Also, although we are working at rectifying this, our society is still one that creates a needless binary of male and female, one that tells little boys they shouldn't play with dolls or wear skirts and that teaches little girls it's not "ladylike" to like trucks and bugs and dinosaurs. Feminism isn't just a women's movement; it's a movement combating gender roles in the fight for equality.

I did a little google research about the relevancy of feminism in the 21st century, and found a section of Debate.org devoted to feminism- on debate.org, you can vote whether or not you agree with a controversial statement and provide a comment including your rationale. On this website, 50% of the voters think feminism is still relevant, and 50% think it is not relevant, which seemed reasonable. When I looked at the comments, however, I found the irony of the whole thing- if you look in the comments for people who voted against feminism, you will find the reason we need feminism. One commenter said that he didn't believe "any more should be given to women until they can show they deserve it". He reasons that we don't see women in positions of power because they aren't "capable of handling it".
 Many other dissenters claimed that women have every right men have, so there's no need for feminism. We forget that we are talking about women in America, a first world country. In a place like Saudi Arabia, women literally cannot drive, interact with men, go anywhere without a chaperone, or even try on clothes in a dressing room of a store (because the thought of women undressing is too much for men). You can make a pretty valid argument of equality in America, but it's hard to deny that in other parts of the world women are nowhere near equal.

I enjoyed the article about "The End of Men"-- I am definitely amazed by how much progress we have made in just several decades. It's very empowering for women to be deciding more and more that marriage isn't necessary, because in the past, women were considered to be basically "nothing" without their husbands. I was happy to learn how well working-class women were doing in their careers, even in cases where their husbands were struggling to find jobs. Parents are starting to prefer girls over boys in places where women used to hate themselves for giving birth to girls instead of boys. Women are dominating colleges, earning the majority of BAs and occupying a 70% majority of places at some community colleges. The only places where women aren't fully equal, if not more successful than men, are in the upper class and in big businesses. Only 3% of CEOs of Fortune 500 companies are women, but Rosin did argue that these companies do tend to be very successful- more so than others. More and more women are becoming the primary breadwinners for their families. It's true that we're making massive progress with women's rights, but that doesn't mean it's time to give up just yet.

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