Feminism has been around for several years and it has only been evolving since its original formation. There is no chance that women are backing down anytime soon. Feminism first emerged in the nineteenth century and following came the evolution of different waves of feminism. We are fighting for our reproductive rights, equal pay, an end to sexual assault and rape, domestic violence and other issues that have been following women since the beginning of time. Feminism is a movement for everyone and those who believe in the liberation and empowerment of women should follow suit. While the reasons feminism is relevant are endless, there are six that specifically stand out.
1. Our reproductive rights are in grave danger.
You would think that with time, our society would continue to progress and evolve accordingly. Even though it has been forty-five years since the landmark decision highlighted in the Roe v. Wade case, we are still struggling to maintain the right to our own bodies. The limitations and barriers that women face when seeking a safe abortion are innumerable. Many women are forced to face long travel distances to find a clinic, face financial distress, and face local restrictions when it comes to their medical care. Some of the restrictions include the requirement of parental consent for minors, waiting periods and gestational limits. Women aged 20-24 account for one-third of unplanned pregnancies in the United States which means that women who are in college are most likely to be in desperate need of these services at some point during their academic career.
2. The war on women is very real.
Domestic violence is not strictly a women's issues, but it does affect women at a disproportionate rate. The alarming statistics should be enough to convince you that we need feminism to speak up for the women who are currently unable to speak for themselves. Even with the provided statistics, it is impossible to know approximately how many women have been victims of domestic violence, mainly because many do not report. For instance, "38,028,000 is the number of women who have experienced physical intimate partner violence in their lifetimes." To simplify that, "1 in 4 women experience severe intimate partner physical violence," and all too often, women are killed by their partners in the end.
3. The gender pay gap reminds us that we are not equal in the workplace.
While there are many factors that impact the gender pay gap such as race or regional location, there is no question that women make less than men doing the same job in many areas. To break it down, "in the year of 2017, female full-time, year-round workers made only 80.5 cents for every dollar earned by men, a gender wage gap of 20 percent." If the woman worker is Black or Hispanic, they will earn even less than the white woman on average. According to a recent study conducted, "in an examination of women's income from 2001 to 2015, the Washington-based Institute for Women's Policy Research found that women's income was 51 percent less than men's earnings, which includes time with no income." Overall, the numbers do not lie. Women make up a significant part of the workforce but their earnings do not reflect their importance.
4. Rape culture is well and alive, even in our criminal justice system.
Survivors of sexual assault and rape are often shamed when they are brave enough to come forward about their abuse. Sadly enough, the criminal justice system continuously fails to serve justice to rapists and abusers. We have all seen examples of rape culture on a daily basis, even if you do not recognize it as such. What we saw with Brock Turner is routine: little to no jail time and then let off with a "warning" as if rape is only worth a slap on the wrist. According to RAINN, "Out of every 1,000 rapes, 995 perpetrators will walk free." Rape and sexual assault are not taken as seriously as it should be in this country (and in many others). Too often, women become silenced and pushed to the side in these occurrences. Feminism gives them a voice. Women who attend college can relate specifically because sexual assault is an epidemic on college campuses nationwide. One in five women experiences sexual assault in college. By advocating for consent education and campus safety, we can work toward reducing these tragedies.
5. The majority of women experience street harassment during their lives.
Being cat-called and whistled at while simply trying to reach a destination can be very intimidating, and in today's society, even deadly. We fear to reject a man's advances because we may end up assaulted, or worse— dead. There are far too many news stories featured about women killed for saying "no," or ignoring a strange man on the street. A campaign called Stop Street Harassment analyzed a national 2,000-person survey conducted in 2014 surrounding street harassment and found that "65% of all women had experienced street harassment." Women deserve to feel safe on the streets, and everywhere, because we matter.
6. The societal expectations for women are harmful.
If you're a woman, I'm sure you've heard it. "Don't be so bossy" or "act like a lady" or "girls don't ____" are all examples of how society pushes toxic expectations onto us about how we should look, act, and behave. Not all women are the same and that's okay. We should be able to like whatever we want and act however we please, regardless of expectations. Even if it does fit your vision of a woman, we are still valuable and worthy of respect. Contrary to popular belief, we are not all fragile and weak. We are actually strong enough to create and birth a human, so I would say we are pretty damn strong.
As women, we have come a long way but we still have a long way to go. We must never forget the fight of our sisters before us, we must continue to fight until our final days, and we must prepare our sisters after us to fight even harder than we did. Because, after all, we are the future and we will not be ignored.
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