As I have become more informed and more exposed to feminism and the subjugation of women, I have struggled to understand why we as a society continue to hold such strong biases towards females. Now, before you jump to conclusions and stop reading, just because I am a feminist that does not mean that I hate men or that I believe that women deserve more than men. To me, being a feminist simply means that I believe in equality. Imagine living in a world where there is no discrimination, where no one group over powers another, that's what feminism is for. I believe that everyone deserves an equal shot in life. In the United States, we are told from an early age that we were all created equal. If we are all created equal, then why does this lesson seem to only apply to men?
My belief is that feminism is the hope and desire that we, as a human race, will all be treated equally, whether it is on a sports team or in the classroom. Over the years, I have played on a couple co-ed teams and one thing I have noticed is how differently I am treated compared to the men who participate on the same team. I am starting to believe that coed teams are more or less men’s teams plus one or two girls. And even then, the girls either hardly get any playing time at all, get put in positions where they might as well not be there or when they do get to play the game is adjusted so that it is easier on them. While some adjustments to the sport may be unintentionally sexist, that doesn’t change that it is just that, sexist.
I understand many times men have more muscle mass than women that does not mean that women are not good at a particular sport or even better than the men. While I am on the topic of men versus women when it comes to sports, have you heard about the latest controversy regarding the United States women's and men's soccer team? Recently five of the All-Star Women’s World Cup Champions just sued the U.S. Soccer Federation for pay equity. Just last year, the United States' Women's Soccer Team earned around six million dollars more than the men’s team and were paid almost four times less. And even if we ignore that the women's team has a substantially better record than the men's team, both teams play twenty games each year. Female players earn $1,350 for winning a game, while male players earn $5,000 if they lose and up to $17,625 if they win, depending on the other team's ranking.
For this article, I chose to do a little research of my own. I asked around on campus and on a few social media sites what people thought feminism was and if they had ever experienced or watched someone they know being treated differently due to their gender. When I spoke to one of my dear friends, Rachel Royer, she said something that really made a lot of sense to me, "I strongly believe that gender inequality will never die without changing our sexist language, behaviors and beliefs... by changing the language that we use, we are forming a new identity for the human race, one without so much emphasis on gender roles.” For example, many times when we see a girl we compliment her on her appearance. If this continues young girls will keep thinking that they are only worthy if they look a certain way. And it goes both ways; if we continue to tell boys that they are only a “man” if they are strong and tough then they will focus more on that and less on who they are as a person.
Recently, I was assigned to watch the film “Iron Jawed Angels.” It is about a young woman, Alice Paul, who fights for women’s rights. I believe that this film contains a very powerful message about what a group of people can do if they put their minds to it. It is amazing to me that the determination one woman, Alice Paul, changed the face of a nation. She and her fellow activists persevered through persecution from their neighbors and even their own family so that their daughters and their granddaughters would one day have the right to vote. I thoroughly enjoyed this film; honestly I think it may be one of my favorites now.
During one part of the film the women who participated in a protest outside of the white house gates were arrested for “obstructing traffic” when in actuality they were arrested for political reasons. Alice Paul, one of the approximant 280 women who were arrested, chose to endure a hunger strike for the cause and was brutally force-fed, not only once but a number of times. Words cannot describe how relieved I was to learn that word did get out about the prison brutality towards these women who did absolutely nothing wrong. Because word got out, President Wilson finally agreed to back a constitutional amendment and congress approved it.
While many people today romanticize the early 20th century, I now feel the need to tell them about the suffrage women faced during this time. It almost makes me wonder if 100 years from now people will romanticize these times, whether it is our fashion or the technologies we have created. But the fact of the matter is the fight for equality is not over, women today only earn 77 cents for every dollar that men earned in 2012, according to new data from the U.S. Census Bureau. Women who are working just as hard as the men in the positions are being paid less solely because they are a woman. We may have the right to vote but I think that we still have a long ways to go for 100% equality.
Along with women’s equality we also have to take into consideration the rights of the LGBT group and the BLM group. So many people are fighting for their rights when it should not be a cause we are fighting for. American was built on the belief that we are all created equally, not just rich, white, straight men. My hope is that we will overcome the obstacles we face today when it comes to equal rights. I wish I knew what I could do to help these various causes but for now I will continue my education and learn as much as I can so that I too can contribute to society today.