by Brianna Ford
Feminism. To many of us women, we feel that it is our duty to protect and defend this concept that men and women are equal. In 1972, the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) was passed, which banned discrimination based on sex. Still, every day women all over the world face oppression, while the belief of feminism is targeted for ridicule.
In South Africa, a woman is raped every 14 seconds. In China, women are forced to have their baby aborted if it is not a male. In the Middle East, women are being sold and traded in human trafficking as sex slaves. The U.S. State Department estimates that between 600,000 and 800,000 people are trafficked across international borders each year, and eighty percent of them are women and girls trafficked for sexual exploitation. Not only are these women completely helpless in these situations, but they are being degraded and mistreated.
Feminism is often misinterpreted as man hating or pushing female dominance. The truth is it merely strives to rid the societal dominance associated with gender. According to the White House Blog, on average women who work full-time all year make 78 cents for every dollar a man makes. For women of color, this gap is increased to 64 cents for African American women and 56 cents for Hispanic women. Despite the decades of progress women have made, the unfortunate fact that women earn less than men for the same work, still remains.
Rape culture is defined as society blaming the victims of sexual assault or the normalization of sexual violence. Our culture allows rape to thrive, and here’s how. Less than a third of rapes that occur are actually reported. Three percent of rapists spend even a day in jail. Thirty two thousand women get pregnant from rape each year in the U.S, and someone is sexually assaulted in the U.S. every two minutes. How do we expect the frequency of rape to decrease if the culture itself is constantly reinforcing the idea that “it’s not that bad” or “she probably deserved it”? If we continue to condone this belief that the victim is to blame, no progress can be made to reduce the amount of rapes. Teaching women how to not get raped is clearly not the problem, but teaching men how to stop raping them is.
People will criticize a woman who is dressed “inappropriately,” but condone actions like catcalling. First of all, a woman can wear whatever she wants, wherever she wants without having to be judged for it. Second, whistling at them is not going to get you anywhere. Catcalling is defined as making a whistle, shout, or comment of a sexual nature to a woman passing by. But what’s the point? It’s creepy, makes women feel uncomfortable and is completely unnecessary. I’m simply wondering if catcalling has ever actually worked. Do women ever immediately turn around after being whistled at and confess how much this derogatory call has turned them on? Probably not. Do women deserve to be objectified and called like an animal? Definitely not. Getting a woman’s attention is really not difficult, but whistling as they walk past is not the way to get a positive reaction. If anything, you’ll get an eye roll or a slap in the face. If you’re trying to get a woman’s attention, try talking to them instead of making them feel like they’re being whistled at by their owner like a cat. Senior Allie Crain comments, “It’s not an unusual occurrence for a girl to be greeted by a whistle or creepy comment while walking through the Stuart halls. The school is probably unaware that this has happened to countless girls here.”
Sexualizing women has become a problem in our everyday lives. You can choose to ignore it or pretend not to notice, but this deep rooted issue is becoming more and more severe. Whether it’s seeing half naked women in magazines and on tv, or misogynist commercials that promote male dominance and violence glorification, it’s impossible to miss. Anywhere you look, women are being unnecessarily sexualized. If you’re still in denial, think about when you’re scrolling through your Instagram feed on Wednesday. You’re not expecting to see fully-clothed, classy and sophisticated women. Most of the time, it’s either a model or actress wearing close to nothing, making women seem like they’re objects to be looked at and played with.
Another fun fact, 77% of anti-abortion leaders are men. However, 100% of them will never actually have to go through pregnancy and child birth. A woman’s body should not be in the hands of an irrelevant and unaffected man, it should be made on her own.