This has underscored my other posts, a quiet theme that finally gets to have it’s own space. Blame it on a few factors: first, a male friend asked me to take a look at the subject. Second, last night, Reese Witherspoon and Patricia Arquette pushed the subject right under the noses of the viewing public.
So, a little homework first. Check out the links below, and I’ll be waiting after the cut for you.
Welcome back. Gender inequality is still a thing in the United States. Which is mind boggling for a country that was founded on principles of equality under God, huh? When we talk about the Equal Rights Amendment and Feminism, I know the first image that comes to mind is something out a 1970’s news report. Being raised by a single mother in the early 1970’s maybe made me more acutely aware of the issue as a child, no doubt. But, I admit to losing sight of there still being an issue. I believed that it was a done deal – that women had gained equality across the board and that was that. Slowly but surely, I could see that I wasn’t wrong to think that, but it wasn’t exactly correct to believe, either. It’s seemed like feminism and gender equality had been relegated to college campuses and has been the province of young women that need a cause. The overtones that helped spur the sexual revolution have grown into a parallel movement. I’ve written about “the shirt” (yes, I’m linking it here…this time, it’s relevant) and it’s not that I object to what it represents (claiming sexual autonomy, feminine empowerment, etc.) I’m all for that, I’m not comfortable wearing a shirt quite so graphic, but I can get behind what it means. But, Feminism is more than that, or at least it should be.
The idea of feminism is that women are powerful and have a right to claim it. We are powerful and have a right to be equal to men in all fields. We’re not, though. Look at the link above about our elected officials. Not many ladies, are there? There are have been four female directors nominated for Oscars, only two of those were Americans, by the way. Name four horror writers that are women (points if you know the name of the female author that created one of the most iconic monsters of all time.) Name four women that have changed how we do business, think about the world, or explore the future. Now, figure what the male leaders in all of these fields net annually in their piggy banks and take away the 22% difference (source) and that’s what their equally qualified female counterparts brought home. There is nothing equal about that.
Now take into consideration that women are expected to perform at their chosen fields with equal excellence, shrug off things like childbirth and responsibilities at home (extremely difficult for single mothers)to compete professionally. But we aren’t compensated equally. Feminism is about fairness. It’s about leveling the playing field only as far as the rewards go. In the name of fairness, think about legislation concerning medical treatments and the ways insurance is allowed to cover them. Look at the link concerning our elected officials again. There are ethical and morality issues that surround birth control. There are ethical and morality issues that surround abortion, too. I’m not here to discuss those. I bring them up because the laws that control these medications and procedures are written by men, voted on and passed by men. The politics of those men doesn’t factor into the argument. The dominating fact is that women allow these decisions to be made by men at all. We vote for them, we pay them and we don’t stand up for ourselves when it counts. We give our power away. Feminism is about taking that power back, making sure that we protect those that can’t for themselves. The decisions to use these procedures and medications should be ours to reconcile between us and our God, whatever we call Her/Him.
Which means that feminism, in and of itself, is not just a women’s issue. It’s a men’s issue as well. Until the inequality is put into balance, things just are wrong. Things like Fifty Shades of Grey happen, where women publicly embrace the worst soft porn ever, but decry actual porn as demeaning and wrong. It’s because we are aware of the scales shifted against us and we’re scrambling to fill our side with the things that might make it fair again. We claim promiscuity, saying it’s taking sexual power, but it’s not. It’s destroying our credibility – it’s making us into the worst version of the men we say have power over us in the first place. Feminism matters, because WE matter. Inequality matters. Imbalance matters. Prejudice and discrimination matter. This isn’t a limited to race – it’s spread across 50% of the world’s population, fuels persecution and abuse. Sexual and gender specific discrimination causes financial hardships, pay inequality creates a glass ceiling that can only be shattered by remembering it’s still there.
As long as all of that exists, feminism still matters
The conversation continues: The Impact of Twilight and Fifty Shades of Grey on Relationships