Feminism is not about hating men at all, as Emma Watson so powerfully said in her speech at the UN in support of the ‘HeForShe’ campaign. It is about a basic human right: the equality of men and women. As we all know, the reality is painfully different. This is why we need feminism.
Only about 135,000 men from all over the world have signed the pledge to help make changes happen so that women and girls no longer face discrimination. Yes, I have signed. Have you? Here is the link to the pledge. We have a long way to go!
“Both men and women should feel free to be sensitive, both men and women should feel free to be strong.” -Emma Watson
What’s wrong with our society? We are gender obsessed. From the moment we are born, we are expected (and indeed forced) into a stereotypical role in line with our sex. Blue for a boy, pink for a girl. It starts early, and even earlier for those who insist on knowing what the gender of their little baby will be.
Miss America gets the prize!
Let me give you a few other examples of our sexist and anti-feminist society. Look at the Miss America beauty contest and the thousands of others around the world, based on the same old formula, since 1921. That is nearly a century! The Miss America slogan is “style, service, scholarship and success.”
As we all know, the reality is totally different. Why would you test a person’s knowledge, sensitivity, social commitment and intelligence by asking her to walk around on a stage half-naked? Why would you ask her the most tortuous question and expect an answer in 20 seconds? Why limit the entrants to those who have never been pregnant or never have had children? The view of a woman’s role in society is still distorted and wrong.
Can you imagine testing a man’s knowledge and management skills by asking him to strut around in his underwear?
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Feminism is important. Here are several more examples why we need feminism:
- Blatant sexism permeates economic, social and economic life
- Women want to be called strong, not bitchy
- Women should never need to apologize for their success
- Urgent need to accept people of all genders and identities
- Women do not need to be told how to live their life
- We need to get rid of hypocrisy and double standards when talking about women
- We need to erase the gender binary
- Men who are called feminists should not be mocked
- One day, the word feminism will become obsolete.
Women and men in running the home
We still have a long way to go to get rid of the idea that running a small family unit and rearing kids is for women only. If a woman chooses to work outside the home, she still is often assumed to have to do all the housework, or most of it! There are still very few stay-at-home dads.
The solution? We could have more paternity leave and government-funded childcare. Equal pay would be excellent. It seems that these are pretty normal in Sweden, but still a long way off in the USA and Europe. Now Sweden is not on another planet, or is it?
The media is rife with sexist language and propaganda
“No one can make you inferior without your permission.” -Eleanor Roosevelt
The media should be leading the way towards a more tolerant society in which the sexes become equal. But, again, it seems like a mirage in the desert. Just look at the sexist language and stereotypes we are subjected to every day:
- Women can only be skinny
- The average UK woman worries about her body image every 15 minutes (because they have been bombarded with sexist and fat-shaming propaganda in advertising)
- Darker skinned women must get a paler complexion
- Female nudity is used to sell tabloid newspapers in the UK. No paper prints photos of male attributes (yet!)
- Men are often portrayed as being dumb and incompetent on many sitcom shows, showing the sexism is not all one way.
- Some men are portrayed as fat in family sitcoms, while the wife is always skinny and sexy.
- Smart people are usually male, while females are dumb but always attractive.
- No prizes for guessing what the majority sex is when words like paranoid, humourless, selfish, man-hating, butch, and aggressive are used in the media.
If you want change to happen, make sure you sign up to Endangered Bodies, a global initiative to stop advertisers sending women messages which make them hate their bodies. Just another reason why we still need feminism.
Violence against women
The overwhelming majority of female homicides are carried out by male partners. In the UK, 54% of female murder victims were killed by their partner, ex-partner or lover. Figures from around the globe are equally harrowing. Resorting to firearms is not the answer, as this report shows.
Why we still need feminism
As you can see from all the examples above, we still need feminism to ensure that the war for equal rights among the sexes is won. The battle is being fought on these fronts:
- Eliminate the pay gap of 23% between men and women
- End FGM (female genital mutilation), which prevents women from fully enjoying sex. It is still practised in 29 countries
- No longer assume a women has to take the man’s surname in marriage or civil partnerships
- Stop justifying rape on how a woman is dressed
Once there is full equality in political, economic and social life, there will be no need for the word ‘feminism’. It will simply become obsolete. As we are nowhere near this Utopia, this is why we sill need feminism.
Featured photo credit: I need feminism because…../Leeds College of Music via flickr.com