I was watching The Today Show this morning and they had a segment about anti-feminists and it made me so mad that I wanted to throw up or scream or hit my head against a solid object. I appreciated that the commentators both claimed they were feminists, but I was shocked that the focus was on feminism’s need to clarify it’s basic definition and not on the ridiculousness of the anti-feminists assertions presented.
There are women who don’t need feminism because they want to be “treated like a lady”. Ignoring that I’m not even sure what that means, because it must mean different things to different women, the crux of it, I have to assume, comes down to the idea that they want to be treated with politeness and decency, which shouldn’t be reserved solely for “ladies”.
Personally, I need feminism because I was walking my dog the other day and some guy catcalled from his work transportation, which made me uncomfortable. I need feminism because when I went to a football game back in college, a guy behind me grabbed my ass with both of his hands and squeezed after we scored a touchdown. I need feminism because I preemptively bought pepper spray for my move next week and because I’m already kind of afraid of my Thursday night commute on the subway. I need feminism because I had a male student who kept getting too touchy before I told him to back the hell off. I need feminism because I had a female student get touched by a male teacher and, while she ended up moving schools, he kept his job and is probably looking at a promotion.
More broadly than that, America needs feminism because women still don’t make the same amount of money as men. White women are making gain, but I need feminism because women of color aren’t, and that’s problematic on several levels. America needs feminism because women of color are often alienated from the movement. America needs feminism because there are creepy paternalistic songs on the radio of men giving women permission to think they’re beautiful. Thanks Pharrell, John Legend, and One Direction, but if you’re giving me permission, it doesn’t count. America needs feminism because Robin Thicke’s Blurred Lines was the song of the summer last year and I still hear it on the radio. America needs feminism because Robin Thicke’s newest album is a creepy attempt to get his wife back, attempting to gather public sympathy to- what? Guilt her into going back? And the media treats it like it’s a romantic gesture. America needs feminism because Gwen Stefani used Asian women as props and Miley Cyrus uses black women as props, and women of color are often used as props, and that’s ridiculous. America needs feminism because Thor is going to be a women and that’s somehow a problem. America needs feminism because Hollywood still acts surprised when female-fronted movies make money. America needs feminism because most movies still don’t pass the Bechdel test. America needs feminism because the men of the Avengers are asked about the complexity of their characters and Scarlett Johansson is asked about her work out regimen.
America needs feminism because abortion is still an issue, even though it was decided 40 years ago. America needs feminism because in the game of corporations versus women, corporations win. America needs feminism because when it comes to women’s issues, particularly as they relate to health and sex, men have a tendency to make a decision while silencing or shaming women. America needs feminism because how many trans-women were assaulted and killed last year? America needs feminism because lesbianism is titillating and a phase. America needs feminism because rape is a thing that exists. America needs feminism because a girl in Ohio was gang raped and the media felt sympathy for the wrecked football careers of her rapists. America needs feminism because a 15 year old girl was raped and it was put on the internet to shame and humiliate her further, because that’s what kids do now. America needs feminism because we teach girls to not get raped but we don’t teach boys not to rape.
But let’s go more even broadly than that. The world needs feminism because women and girls are often the silent victims of war, raped and killed as spoils. The world needs feminism because there are places in the world where women aren’t allowed to drive or to leave the house with a male chaperone. he world needs feminism because female genital mutilation is still a thingThe world needs feminism because there are places in the world where girls have to drop out of school when they start puberty because their schools can’t accommodate them. The world needs feminism because Malala was shot in the head for daring to get an education. The world needs feminism because hundreds of young girls were kidnapped because they dared to get an education.
What it comes down to is this: If a woman feels like her quality of life has been reached through feminism and that she no longer needs it, it is because she is either ignorant or selfish. Ignorant because she doesn’t realize there are billions around the world who are still suffering, or selfish because she doesn’t care.