I haven’t always been a feminist. In fact, for a while I dreaded being associated with the “crazy cat lady freaks who thought men were Satan”. As I progressed through college and entered law school, I actually figured out what it meant to be a feminist. Being feminist is about ensuring that women are treated the same as men. As a woman, it means standing up for your rights to ensure that you are afforded equal treatment.
It seems that many people my age (I’m 21) have a problem with feminists. We are accused as being pro-women, anti-men, and out for only our interests. I believe this misconception comes from the fact that women’s rights have come a long way. After all, just this week for the first time a woman obtained a major party nomination while running for President. But at the same time women still face significant obstacles.
1 in 6 women in the United States will experience an attempted or completed rape during their lifetime. While sexual assault is not unique to women only 1 in 33 men in the United States will experience attempted or completed sexual violence in their lifetime. We live in a time where awareness about sexual assault is growing, but rape culture still exists. People still believe that women shouldn’t dress like “sluts” and that women shouldn’t drink alcohol. It’s as if they think that the women’s outfits or alcohol consumption are somehow to blame for their rape. Twitter user @chloecheeeky definitely seems to understand what I'm saying. Somehow Brock Turner (the former Stanford swimmer who got just 6 months for raping an unconscious woman) is viewed as too intoxicated to make good judgment while the sexual assault survivor is seen as too drunk to even be out in the first place.
Then there’s the fact that women are still making less money than men. As of 2015 women were still only making 79 cents to a man’s dollar. Recently I read an interesting book called "Sex and the Office" that highlight other effects that might lead to women getting paid less. For example, coworker mentor-ships are incredibly important to getting promotions. Having a friendly relationship with a manager may lead to tips about work and mentions at meetings were candidates for promotions are being talked about. Unfortunately, there seems to be a barrier between female subordinates and male managers. Because men still dominate executive positions in professional settings women may not be mentored and may not mentioned at promotion talks.
Women are also still having trouble getting access to reproductive health services. Conservatives are attacking women’s reproductive health more than ever. Targeted Regulation of Abortion Provider (TRAP) laws make it harder if not impossible for women to get abortions. The Oklahoma legislature recently passed a law that would have outlawed abortion altogether. The law wasn’t signed by the governor because she said it unconstitutional. However, she would sign an abortion ban that would hold up in court. The attack on Planned Parenthood has not only threatened abortion services but also contraceptive services and STI testing. Planned Parenthood also tries to educate young people on how to have a safe sex life.
I could keep on listing reasons why feminists are still needed, but that could go on for pages. The women’s rights movement has come a long way, but we cannot forget why our mother’s and grandmother’s started this fight in the first place. We want total equality not just partial equality. I will continue to fight for women’s rights, and I will continue to be unapologetically feminist.