When I was a wee lass, during those heady high school days with Shannon, Catherine, Betsy, and M’Lynda as my closest clique of friends, I often identified as a feminist. I knew I wasn’t a Republican like them (and really, I think Shannon is the only conservative amongst us now, though admittedly I haven’t spoken to Betsy since graduation) but I could not express why. Still, I knew I was a feminist.
I didn’t understand feminism in 1994, when I was fourteen and thought I was one.
I didn’t understand feminism in 2004, when I married a man who called himself a feminist.
I finally understand feminism in 2014, when I know I am one.
The definition of feminism that I recognize is thus: Feminism is the radical notion that men and women should be equal.
A lot of people think feminism means growing out your armpit & leg hairs and bashing on men for being pigs. Or that feminists are “feminazis” wearing jackboots and wanting only to subjugate men like fictional amazons keeping men in cages only to let them out for forced procreation and slave labor. Or that we don’t need feminism anymore because its 2014 and women can be anything – even President if we elect one in 2016.
But the fact is – we DO need feminism. In 2014. In America.
Because women make 77 cents on the dollar, compared to men doing the same job with the same experience/education.
Because women of color make even less on the dollar.
Because we teach girls to walk with keys between their knuckles, walk in groups, and never go out alone at dark rather than teaching boys not to rape.
Because we consider it a legit insult to call someone a “pussy”, “girly”, or “feminine”.
Because anything feminine is entirely devalued (poetry was once the respected game of high-class men, then women started writing it and the men sneered and said poetry was trashy. Men switched to novels, and it was respected. Then women started writing them, and novels became the new “lesser” form of expression. It goes on and on).
Because people say that a girl wearing a short skirt is “asking for it”.
Because men who have lots of sexual partners are called “studs” and women who act the same way are “sluts” or “whores”.
Because women only make up 20% of the senate & congress in the US.
Because people make comments along the line that we should not have/could not trust a lady president because she’ll “go nuts” for a week every month.
Fun fact: Post-menopausal women are actually the least “hormonal” age/sex group out there and really should be in charge of anything that requires a rational mind.
Because of our society’s creation and fixation on virginity – and because men talk all the time about taking a girl’s “cherry” but when was the last time you heard one actually care about giving her her first orgasm? Ohhh yeah, never.
Because if you show a man’s face during an orgasm in a movie, it can be rated PG-13. If it is a woman having an orgasm, it is rated R.
Fun fact: You can beat a woman to a pulp and still get PG-13. Just don’t show her having pleasure. That’s naughty!
Because actual, intelligent people actually believe “friendzoning” is a thing (all men are entitled to fuck a woman if he’s nice to her, apparently).
Because girls who pursue the sciences are still frequently overlooked and undervalued by their teachers and professors.
Because schools insist girls not wear things like tank tops, spaghetti straps, skirts or yoga pants because they’re a distraction to the boys, rather than teaching the boys treat girls like PEOPLE rather than sex objects.
Because we celebrated the invention of a date-rate-drug detecting nail polish (which, admittedly, was pretty great) rather than educate more boys on consent and how not to FUCKING RAPE PEOPLE (note: people, not just women… men are raped, too, and are less likely to report it because people don’t believe them… they also need feminism).
Because “boys will be boys” is considered a legitimate excuse for sexual assault, rape, and general douchebaggery.
Because actual state legislators have (in the past two years) tried repeatedly to create laws about our genitals.
Because girls say they don’t need feminism because they feel safe or equal, but completely fail to acknowledge that there are billions of other people in the world who are not safe, are not equal, are not able to speak out about it.
Because a woman who spoke out against misogyny in video games was “outed” on the internet, her address posted publicly, death threats sent to her… and worse. She’s one of many.
Because in the year 2014, in Nigeria, nearly 300 girls were kidnapped by rebels because they had the gall to attend school & get educated.
Because a female telling her opinion is a “bitch” but a man is just expression his opinion.
I don’t know what the solution is, other than teaching people from day one to respect other people no matter their race, sex, creed, sexual identity, favorite color, favorite band, et cetera…
But I want to fix it. Because some day I hope little Josie Jr. and her siblings and cousins and entire generation… won’t have to have “pepper spray” on their Back to School list.
If you think we don’t still need feminism… you’re wrong.
Note: Image is “Brain 001″ by (Obscenity) from SXC.hu