- Politics and Social Issues
Why the West Still Needs Feminism
In the midst of the Women’s March protests following Donald Trump’s inauguration, both women and men seem to be split on the idea of whether or not women in various places participating in the marches (the United States, Canada, Australia) still have equality to fight for. Below I’ve outlined the areas in which inequality still exists, and where we need improvements.
In 2016, a story about a swimmer at Stanford made a big splash. He was charged with “assault with intent to rape an intoxicated woman, sexually penetrating an intoxicated person with a foreign object, and sexually penetrating an unconscious person with a foreign object.” He got a notoriously lenient sentencing - just six months in jail. He was released after only three for “good behaviour” (perhaps it was the lack of unconscious women to penetrate).
You’ll note that I referred to him as "a swimmer at Stanford," a detail that was repeatedly emphasized throughout the trial. In fact, many media outlets focused on his athletic accomplishments and reputation before they got into the fact that he sexually assaulted an unconscious women behind a dumpster. Apparently his status as a male athlete overshadowed his crimes committed against a woman whose only mistake was drinking too much.
This leads into the next problem within our rape culture, which is the suggestion that if a woman gets too drunk, or flirts too much, or wears something revealing, a man cannot be held entirely accountable for his actions. In 2014 a Canadian judge told an alleged rape victim that “pain and sex sometimes go together” and that she could have prevented being raped on top of a sink by “sinking her bottom down into the basin.”
The twisted idea that women are somehow to be blamed for being raped is unfortunately not an uncommon one. Most people are also very familiar with Todd Akin’s comments about rape, saying “if it’s legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut the whole thing down.” Again, here is a man telling women that if they’ve been raped they must not have tried hard enough to prevent it.
Shouldn’t we be focusing on the fact that men shouldn’t be raping women in the first place instead of trying to find ways to shift some of the blame onto the victims?
A common gripe against women who participated in the Women’s Marches on January 21st is that their speeches and signs were “too vulgar.” Many of the people clutching their pearls over what was said and written are men and women who voted for and/or support Donald Trump.
Here is a small sample of some of Trump’s vulgar comments:
“It doesn’t really matter what [they] write as long as you’ve got a young and beautiful piece of a**.”
“You have to treat [women] like sh*t.”
“It must be a pretty picture, you dropping to your knees.”
“I moved in on her like a b*tch but I couldn’t get there, and she was married. Then all of a sudden I see her, she’s now got the big phony tits and everything. I’m automatically attracted to beautiful women, I just start kissing them. It’s like a magnet, just kiss, I don’t even wait. And when you’re a star they let you do it. You can do anything. Grab them by the p*ssy. You can do anything.”
(About an underage girl) “I’m going to be dating her 10 years, can you believe it?”
Apparently all of this is fine to say if you’re a man running for president, but vulgarity is strictly frowned upon if coming from women. It’s also no coincidence that these Trump quotes are in reference to women, and there’s another long list of comments coming from him that judge women strictly based on their appearances rather than their accomplishments.
Complaining about women cursing or using “offensive” terms while electing a man who has said all of the above proves, almost perfectly, why we still need feminism.
Birth Control Symptoms
From 2008-2012, a study found that a birth control shot for men effectively prevented pregnancy in women. However, the study was cut short and the shot was never offered to the public due to “adverse side effects.” Yeesh, that sounds rough. So what were these side effects?
One case of depression
One irregular heartbeat
Site injection pain
Just for comparison, here is the list of side effects from the female birth control shot (Depo-Provera):
Site injection pain
Decreased sex drive
Permanent dents in the skin where the shot is administered
(There is also scientific evidence to link all hormonal methods of female birth control with depression.)
Compare the list of side effects, and try to think of a good reason why the list of the men’s side effects were unacceptable, but the list of women’s side effects are okay.
Let’s also not forget that women are expected to eat the cost of taking this birth control, and that many people feel women should be forced to have a child even if she pays for and experiences these side effects but the birth control fails. Society is setting women up to suffer for having sex, while at the same time not taxing Viagra so that men can enjoy it at a lower cost. Make sense to you? It doesn’t to me.
Criticizing Feminists on Appearance
Another unintentional way anti-feminists are convincing the rest of us that feminism is necessary is the array of comments pouring in about how “fat and unattractive” feminists are. Putting the focus on appearance and not what they’re saying (a Donald Trump tactic) is exactly what these women are fighting against.
Here are some examples:
“Dear Ugly, Fat Feminists: Admit it, You HATE That Men Don’t Find you Attractive” (the title of an article written on louderwithcrowder.com)
“Why Are Most Vocal Feminists Also The Ugliest?” (the title of an article written on returnofkings.com)
“Why Are Feminists Fat & Ugly?” (the title of an article posted on infowars.com)
There are also thousands of tweets pouring in after the Women’s March with photos of “ugly” women being used to display that feminism is an expression for those who don’t get attention from men. Again, further encouraging feminists to speak out because the point seems to be lost on these people. A woman’s worth is not connected to her appearance and not everything she does is a result of what men think of her.
These are just a few examples of where women are still treated unfairly or valued less in comparison to men. You may look at this list and think “oh that’s not so bad, stop complaining” but that’s part of why these issues are so dangerous. We do not have the type of inequality that many places do, the kind that you look at and recognize immediately regardless of your political affiliation or preconceived notions about feminism. These are pervasive, subtle, and sometimes hard to spot. But they’re there, and if we continue to accept them without questioning them then they have the potential to spiral into something bigger, something more obvious. I don’t want to wait until it reaches that immediately recognizable kind of sexism. I don’t want things to get worse so that my daughter has to fight harder in the future. I want to cleanse these seemingly small remnants of sexism that live in our society before they grow into something that’s harder to wipe away.
I’ll leave you with some pictures of fat, ugly, undesirable feminists...