If you’ve been online in the past few days, I’m sure you’ve heard about or seen #YesAllWomen. Now I’m sure you’ve also seen some posts and maybe rolled your eyes at the thought of another ‘feminist rant.’ And I’m also sure you’ve seen the responses women have gotten to even being bold enough to use her voice and remind people about why this matters. More often than not, the responses have been rude and ignorant, and quite frankly, I’m ashamed people even feel this way.
So first, I would like to define the word feminist.
Feminist: fem-i-nist: [fem-uh-nist] adj. 1. advocating political, social, legal and economic rights for women equal to those of men. n. 2. an advocate of such rights.
Feminist. Such a nasty connotation behind a word describing a person who advocates for women to have equal rights to men. Yes, that’s right. A person. Anyone can actually be a feminist. A man who wants equal rights for women can also be considered a feminist. I would also like to point out that no where in the definition does it refer to women hating men. They simply want equal rights to those of men. So why does it leave such a bad taste in some people’s mouths?
Well, I’m sure there are hundreds of reasons, but regardless, it leaves such a bad taste, people are willing to disregard the fact there are problems. There is inequality. It does exist.
Women earned 77 cents per every dollar a man made in 2012. Latina woman earned 58 cents per every dollar a Latino man made and African-American women earned 69 cents on the dollar compared to African-American men.
Ok, so there’s a wage gap. Most people are aware of this fact but casually dismiss it. You know, I could say it’s because life isn’t fair, blah, blah, blah, and all that crap because, well, life isn’t fair. But you’re going to tell me that I can work my ass off for years using the college degree that I earned, do twice as much work, and then at the end of the day I may not get promoted because of my gender? And even if I do get promoted I’ll be making less than my male counterparts, not because of the quality of my work or my efforts, but because I am a woman. Yeah, that seems fair.
But this hashtag brings something to light much more powerful than the cold, hard fact there’s a wage gap. It highlights our inequality to men in a different way. Women are sharing their experiences of being sexually assaulted, sexually harassed and abused on Twitter. They are sharing legitimate fears. They are coming together to let the world know that these experiences happen all too often and they usually go unnoticed or unmentioned – and that is not ok.
Additionally, I found an extremely powerful story attached to a tweet this weekend that very accurately describes how women feel on a regular basis,
“We were discussing homosexuality because of an allusion to it in the book we were reading, and several boys made comments such as “That’s disgusting.” We got into the debate and eventually a boy admitted that he was terrified/disgusted when he was once sharing a taxi and the other male passenger made a pass at him. The lightbulb went off. “Oh,” I said, “I get it. See, you are afraid because for the first time in your life you have found yourself a victim of unwanted sexual advances by someone who has the physical ability to use force against you.” The boy nodded and shuddered visibly. “But,” I continued, “as a woman, you learn to live with that from the time you are 14 and it never stops. We live with that fear every day of our lives. Every man walking through the parking garage the same time as you is either a harmless stranger or a potential rapist. Every time.” The girls in the room nodded, agreeing. The boys seemed genuinely shocked. “So think about that next time you hit on a girl. Maybe, like you in the taxi, she doesn’t actually want you to.”
It shouldn’t take such a saddening and tragic event to point out that sexism still exists. Men and women alike should realize that this is a problem, otherwise the hashtag, #YesAllWomen, wouldn’t exist.
This post isn’t to shove my beliefs down your throat, it’s simply to compile some disheartening evidence that despite it being 2014, women are still objectified and mistreated and inequality still exists. We are still afraid to walk to our cars at night. We take self-defense classes to prepare ourselves against potential attackers. We carry pepper spray on our keychains. We are taught that the clothes we wear may attract unwanted advances. It’s 2014 and we are still afraid.
*Not all men are like this, but there are obviously enough to be a part of the problem. I encourage all genders to be respectful toward everyone, including yourself. Become informed and be a part of the solution.