Why Every Female Should Be A Feminist

Why Every Female Should Be A Feminist

Newsflash: It's not just a bunch of pro-choice, man-hating liberal women in pink hats.
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The weekend of Saturday, January 21st and Sunday, January 22nd was quite monumental for women. Following the historic Women's March, social media feeds were full of feminist sentiments, photos from the march, and posts about solidarity and female pride. The outpouring of support on these two days was to be expected – millions of women marched worldwide with the mission of upholding women's rights and showing how strong we can be when we come together. What I didn't expect is what I saw the next day...

I was rather shocked to see the social media posts on Monday, January 23rd. I expected there to be a few people who did not support the Women's March (mostly because I think a lot of people misinterpreted the overall mission to solely be protesting the presidency of Donald Trump, which was part of it but not the entire goal). However, I didn't expect to see so many of my friends – my female friends, my millenial female friends – who outright don't support feminism at large.

Females who don't support feminism? I'm sorry but...this does not compute.

I'm not saying every woman needs to lay herself out on the line everyday. That's not everyone's scene, and I get that. I myself did not attend a march on Saturday. But I do support the march because it supported feminism, and I really just don't understand why any woman would not support feminism.

Let's first get this one straight, because it's a point I saw a lot of in these anti-feminist posts. Feminism is not synonymous with man-hating. It is the goal of feminism to reach equality between males and females, not female superiority. You can love your boyfriend, your husband, your male coworkers and friends – it's not about that. It's about being equal to all of those people. And newsflash: even though you might feel equal at times, on a legal level, you're not.

Secondly, feminism is not a partisan issue. Yes, I think the majority of feminists probably are Democrats, but I'm quite sure that there are plenty of Republican feminists too. And why? Because female equality affects ALL females, no matter which side of the political fence you are on.

Finally, feminism is not just about abortion. I think since this gets so much attention from the media, a lot of the time it seems like these marches and protests are only about abortion. It seems like all feminists are "pro-choice." I don't necessarily think that is true. Like I said above, just like there can be Democrat and Republican feminists, I think there can be pro-choice and pro-life feminists too. Why? Because female equality is not just about abortion.

So then, if it's not all a bunch of pro-choice, man-hating liberal women, what is feminism about? What exactly are these issues of female equality? What does feminism fight for (or against)?

Let's start out with the most obvious and probably well-known: the pay gap. According to the Institute of Women's Policy Research, women make up almost half the workforce and receive more college and graduate degrees than men. But as of 2015, female workers make only 80 cents for every one dollar earned by men – a 20 percent gap. In tracking wage trends, IWPR estimates that if the pay increase continues at the same slow pace it has been, pay equality won't be reached until 2059 – 42 years from now. As of April 2016, the World Economic Forum reported that the US currently ranks at number 28 worldwide in our wage gap, the lowest rank we've had since 2007, and behind countries like Rwanda and the Philippines with rank in the top 10. You might not believe it, but it's true. In 2017 in the United States of America, women make less money than men for doing the same work as men. Isn't pay equality something we can all get behind?

Here's another: guaranteed paid parental leave. Let's check out this research from the Pew Research Center. Did you know that while three states (California, New Jersey and Rhode Island) have state-mandated paid parental leave, the United States is the only country out of 41 countries surveyed that does not have a national paid family leave mandate? The lowest amount of paid family leave offered in any other country is about two months – while in this country, it is left to the companies to decide. Pew reports that "in almost half of two-parent households, both parents now work full-time, and in 40 percent of all families with children, the mother is the sole or primary breadwinner." With the average cost of daycare in the US being $972 a month (and higher costs of $2000 a month in places like Boston and San Francisco), we are currently in a lose-lose situation. Isn't some amount of guaranteed paid parental leave something we can all get behind?

Need more? Feminism represents cracking down on sexual assault and rape. According to the National Sexual Violence Resource Center, one in five women and one in 71 men will be raped at some point in their lives. More than 90 percent of sexual assault victims on college campuses do not report the assault. Rape is the most underreported crime in the country, and 63 percent of sexual assaults are not reported to the police. Even still, rape costs the United States more annually than any other crime at $127 billion, $56 billion more than murder. And when people (I use that term lightly) like Brock Turner get a slap on the wrist for sexually assaulting an unconscious woman, being released from jail three months early from his already absurdly short six month sentence, what does that say about how we handle cases of sexual violence and what support we give to its victims? Isn't cracking down on sexual assault and rape, and giving its victims support, something we can all get behind?

While we're on the topic of violence, feminism also represents cracking down on domestic violence. Domestic violence encompasses a range of offenses, including physical, sexual, and psychological abuse between current or former partners, as well as family members, including threats and stalking. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, about 20 people are physically abused by an intimate partner in the United States every minute. The National Coalition Against Domestic Violence states that on a typical day, more than 20,000 phone calls are placed to domestic violence hotlines nationwide. Women between the ages of 18 and 24 are the most commonly abused – and only 34 percent of people injured through domestic violence actually receive medical care for their injuries. Isn't cracking down on domestic violence against both women and men, and giving its victims a voice, something we can all get behind?

Look, I could go on and on. Feminism represents promoting positive body image, ending stigmas against breastfeeding, ending sexual harassment, call out catcalling, putting an end to human trafficking, and making birth control affordable. Feminism stands to stop spreading the message that women were "asking for it" because they wore a short skirt, and that girls can't wear tank tops to school because it will "distract the boys" (which is to me is just as insulting to the boys as it is unfair to the girls). Feminism hopes to improve stigmas for men too – fathers should not be discouraged from taking an active role in their children's lives, men should not be looked down on for feeling emotions. Republican or Democrat, pro-choice or pro-life, female or male, aren't these all things we can all get behind?

All this, and I haven't even mentioned the struggles that specifically face women of color, LGBTQ women or female immigrants!

Yeah, we have it good in this country as opposed to other countries, and I really understand the arguments saying that if we are standing up for women's rights, shouldn't we stand up for women's rights in places where they have far fewer rights than in the United States. I do believe that we should, and I do think that there are lots of women and men out there fighting for the rights of women worldwide. But the fact is, no matter how terrible conditions are for women in other countries, it does not diminish the issues we are facing here. Our issues are important too.

You can sit here and say you don't feel like a second class citizen because you are a female, and criticize the women who march continue to march for these rights. But don't forget – less than 100 years ago, women did not have the right to vote (and while white women were granted the right in 1920, African American women couldn't vote until the 1960's). Information regarding birth control was classified as "obscene" until 1936, and the FDA did not approve birth control pills until 1960. Sex discrimination in schools was not banned until 1972. The Equal Credit Opportunity Act, allowing women to receive credit cards in their own name, was not passed until 1974. It was 1976 when the first marital rape law was enacted, making it illegal for a husband to rape his wife. The Pregnancy Discrimination Act, which bans companies from denying or firing a woman from a job because she is or may become pregnant, was not passed until 1978. Your parents, your grandparents, and perhaps even some of you reading this article, were born in a country where the rights we have today did not exist yet!

We have these rights because of people who protested, marched, were jailed, and were subject to ridicule and hatred. Let's not forget to thank Susan B. Anthony, Alice Paul, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Eleanor Roosevelt, Gloria Steinem, Rosa Parks, Rose Schneiderman, Sarah Muller, Betty Friedan, and the countless others who have stood up for women's rights throughout the years. Hey, there were plenty of women who didn't support suffrage back in the day, and I'm sure these feminists were met with the same disdain some of my fellow millenials are showing towards modern-day feminism. But it is because of them that we get to enjoy the rights we do have today. And the work is not done.

So think a little bit before you assume feminism is so one-dimensional, and that you automatically oppose it. Feminism works to improve the lives of everyone, and there is absolutely no reason you shouldn't support it. No one is saying you have to go out and march – but don't tear down the efforts of those who do march, as it is because of them that we continue to break the barriers of sexism, and fight for the rights that make this country so great.

Cover Image Credit: CNN

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Islam Is Not A Religion Of Peace, But Neither Is Christianity

Let's have in honest converation about the relgious doctrine of Islam

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Islam is not a religion of peace.

Christianity is also not a religion of peace.

But, most people in both religions are generally peaceful.

More specifically, bringing up the doctrine of Christianity is a terrible rebuttal to justify the doctrine of Islam.

That is like saying, "Fascism is not a good political ideology. Well, Communism isn't any good either. So, Fascism is not that bad after all."

One evil does not justify another evil. Christianity's sins do not justify Islam's.

The reason why this article is focused on Islam and not Christianity is the modern prevalence of religious violence in the Islamic world. Christianity is not without its evil but there is far less international terrorist attacks and mass killing perpetrated by Christians today than by those of Islam.

First, let's define "religious killings," which is much more specific than a practicer of a religion committing a murder.

A religious killings are directly correlated with the doctrines of the faith. That is different a human acting on some type of natural impulse killing someone.

For example, an Islamic father honor killing his daughter who was raped is a religious killing. But an Islamic man who catches his wife cheating and kills her on the spot is a murder, not a religious killing. The second man may be Islamic but the doctrine of Islam cannot be rationally held at fault for that killing. Many men with many different religions or experience would make the same heinous mistake of taking a life.

Second, criticizing a doctrine or a religion is not a criticism of everyone that practices the religion.

It is not even a criticism of everyone who make mistake while inspired by the religions. Human are willing to do heinous things when governed by a bad cause. Not every World War 2 Nazis was a homicidal maniac but human nature tells them to act this way in order to survive in their environment. It is hard to fault a person from traits that comes from evolutionary biology and natural selection.

However, commenting on a philosophy, ideology or a religion is not off limits. Every doctrine that inspires human action should be open for review. The religion may be part of a person's identity and it holds a special place in its heart but that does not mean it should be immune to criticism.

Finally, before going into a deconstruction of the myth that Islam is a religion of peace, there needs to be a note about the silencing of talking about Islam.

There is a notion in Western Society that if a person criticizes Islam, then that person hates all Muslims and the person suffers from Islamophobia. That is not the case, a person to criticize religion without becoming Donald Trump. In Western Society criticizing fundamental Christians is never seen as an attack on all Christians because there is a lot of bad ideas in the Bible that Christians act on. Therefore, criticizing Islam should have the same benefit of the doubt because the Quran has many bad ideas in it.

The Quran advocates for war on unbelievers a multitude of times. No these verses are not a misreading or bad interpretation the text. Here are two explicit verses from the Quran that directly tell Followers to engage in violence:

Quran 2: 191-193:

"And kill them wherever you find them, and turn them out from where they have turned you out. And Al-Fitnah (disbelief or unrest) is worse than killing... but if they desist, then lo! Allah is forgiving and merciful. And fight them until there is no more Fitnah (disbelief and worshipping of others along with Allah) and worship is for Allah alone. But if they cease, let there be no transgression except against Az-Zalimun (the polytheists and wrong-doers)"

Quran 2: 216:

"Fighting is prescribed for you, and ye dislike it. But it is possible that ye dislike a thing which is good for you, and that ye love a thing which is bad for you. But Allah knoweth, and ye know not."

There is no rational way to interrupt these passages in a peaceful way. The whole premise of both passages is to inspire followers that war against the unbeliever is justified.

The first verse advocates for genocide against non-believers for the mere transgression that a society worships a different god or worships another god along with Allah.

The second passage is arguable more dangerous because the first passage just advocate that fighting may be a necessity, while the second passage encourages it. The second passage claims that war on the unbeliever is a good thing under the eyes of Allah.

The reason why these passages are dangerous is because they directly incite religious violence. For most followers of Allah, these passages are ignored or they convince themselves the passages means something they do not. However, for a large numbers of followers that view the text of the Quran as the unedited words of Allah, these texts become extremely dangerous. These passages become all the rational they need to wage war on non-believers.

This is dangerous because there are millions of followers of Islam worldwide that believe every statement in the Quran is true.

Therefore, the Quran becomes a direct motivation and cause for its followers to attack non-followers. Rationally one can understand where the Islam follower comes from, if a person truly believes that Allah or God himself wrote these words then why would you not comply.

Especially when there is verses in the Quran that says the Follower who does not fight the infidel is not as worthy of a Follower that does wage war against the non-believer (Quran 4:95). Finally, when male Followers are told that their martyrdom fighting for the faith will be rewarded with an eternity in paradise with 72 virgins for personal pleasure. If a Follower truly believes all of this is the spoken word of Allah then there is more rational why a person would commit these atrocities then why they would not.

Men and women are radicalized by these passages on a daily basis.

No, it is not just the poor kid in Iraq that lost his family to an American bombing run that indiscriminately kills civilians but also the middle classed Saudi Arabian child or some Western white kid that finds the Quran appealing. If radicalization were just poor people, then society would not have much to be worried about. However, Heads of States, college educated people and wealthy Islamic Followers are all being radicalized and the common dominator is the doctrine of Islam.

Osama Bin Laden, one of the most infamous terrorist in history, was not a poor lad that was screwed by the United States military industrial complex. Bin Laden was the son of a billionaire, that received an education through college from great schools. There is no other just cause for Bin Laden to orchestrate such grievous attacks on humanity besides religious inspirations. A person can rationally tie Islam Followers gravitation towards terrorism to a specific verse. Quran 3: 51 tells readers,

"Soon shall we cast terror into the hearts of the Unbelievers."

Any rational person can tie Islamic passages like this directly to terrorism. It is not a complicated correlation to like Nazism and Jewish persecution to Christianity. The Holy Book of Islam directly encourages the Followers of Islam to inflict terrorism unto the non-believer.

So why do some many people deny these obvious truths about Islam and violence?

Political Correctness and the want to not be viewed as a bigot. The correlations here are as direct as the terrors of the Spanish Inquisitions and Catholicism and no one is afraid to retrospect and say, "Yes Christianity caused the direct murder of thousands of people". A person would not even be controversial if one stated that both World Wars has significant religious undertones. However if anyone states that terrorism and violence has a direct link with Islam then there is an outcry.

Even President Obama refused to use the terms Islam and Muslim when publicly talking about the War on Terrorism. I am a hypocrite also because I used the term Islamic Follower instead of Muslim in an attempt to sound more political correct.

That is a problem when society refuse to use terms that are correct in an attempt to not offend anyone. Imagine if scientist could not report their findings because the underlying politics. Society needs to be able to have open dialogue about this problem or else it will never heal. Society needs to throw away the worrisome about being politically correct and focus on identifying the problems and solving them.

The world of Islam needs to open themselves up to this criticism.

There can no longer be a closing of dialogue where the West cannot speak on the doctrines of Islam because they are not partakers (That applies to all organized religion too, especially the Catholic Church). People who draw Muhammed must no longer be threatened with attacks on their life.

When Islamic women and men speak up about the sins of Islam, they must stop being silenced. If humanity is going to take steps into the future with better technology and more dangerous weaponry, then we need to solve this problem with Islam and gradually to organized religion at all.

If not it will doom us way before we get there…

Thank you for reading and if you enjoyed this article follow my podcast on Twitter @MccrayMassMedia for more likewise discussions.

Cover Image Credit:

https://unsplash.com/photos/JFirQekVo3U

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Reflect On What Memorial Day Means to You, Even After The Day Has Passed

Memorial Day is a day about honoring, remembering, and mourning the lives of loved ones.

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As our nation is slowly dividing, I find it hard to understand the lack of respect some Americans have for the men and women that have sacrificed their lives for our freedom. Patriotism has a price and that cost is in the form of lives – not flags, songs, or words in Tweet. As a widow of a veteran, I walk with protesters and demonstrate my patriotic right to voice my opinion when my civil rights or the rights of others are abused.

I am disappointed with our government turning a blind eye to the rights of every citizen and calling it patriotism. These elected officials spend most of their time finding fault in the actions of protestors for political gain. It frightens me to read bigoted comments on social media criticizing protestors and applauding the abusive measures our government is taking to control the civil rights of many. Patriotism is not only the love of our country, but also the love of our citizens, no matter their gender, race, or religious beliefs. The rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness are for all Americans.

On this Memorial Day, my wish is that we as patriotic Americans take time and reflect on how many lives were lost in battles to protect our freedom. We should also remember and thank the many men and women on foreign soil today that are willing to give their lives as well.

This holiday came to be after the bloodiest war on American soil and it is known as "Decoration Day." In 1865, approximately 620,000 soldiers perished during the Civil War. On May 30, 1865, flowers were scattered on graves to honor all the soldiers that lost their lives in the war. Over the years the date of the holiday and definition has changed. The last Monday in May became the government holiday that all Americans observe. Although, May 30th is the official day of remembrance.

In the past, Memorial Day was more about the lost lives and less about the back-yard barbeque. After World War II, the nation was overwhelmed with patriotic pride, and flags were flown high and proud of all Americans that fought for our freedom. Memorial Day was a day to pay respect to the military and their families for their sacrifice. After September 11, 2001, the nation saw patriotism begin to grow in a different way, the nation included men and women of our police and fire departments and their families in this day of mourning.

Memorial Day is a day of honoring, remembering, and mourning the lives of loved ones. The lost men and women that made the ultimate sacrifice for our freedom and protection. However, these days, most consider this an opportunity to celebrate the beginning of the summer season. Many will have cook-outs and only a few will go to the cemetery and leave flowers or flags on gravesites.

If someone wishes you a "Happy Memorial Day," please remind them it is not a day of joyful celebration but a day of mourning. And to all the veterans, thank you for your service.

Cover Image Credit:

Barbara Myers

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