After seeing another of my Facebook posts dedicated to a mini-rant on misogyny and slut-shaming, one of my aunts asked me “when did you become such an angry young woman?” Ours is a strange time, dear readers. Back in December of this just-past year, Salon ran an article entitled Why are women scared to call themselves feminists? after Katy Perry felt it necessary to announce to the world that she is not a feminist as she accepted the Billboard Woman of the Year award. An odd choice of timing for such an announcement, but I guess that’s why she wins awards and I just complain on the internet. While I will not sit here and tear apart Ms. Perry for her statement, I can and will explain why I think her shying away from the term is dangerous.
Feminism has gotten a bad rap, especially in recent times. Some people still see it as a movement based on degrading men, or elevating women to a dictatorial position over men. While there may be some who identify as feminist and pursue these “ideals”, it is important to recognize that they are to feminism what the Westboro Baptist Church is to Christianity. To ignore a group because of its most fringe members is to miss the important lessons they can share with us. In this case, the message feminism seeks to spread is that women still need equal treatment.
“But why should I care?” you might be asking, especially if you read my title and noticed I hadn’t gotten around to it yet. “Because women’s rights are human rights,” I’d reply if this conversation actually happened. Women deserve the same rights that men do, and the simple fact is that they don’t have them. Women still don’t make the same pay that men do, and that is largely due to women being pressured from a young age into stereotypical jobs, or that they should be intimidated of maths and sciences, or that they simply shouldn’t earn as much as their husband. Just try to imagine what it would be like growing up and having everyone from your parents, to your teachers, to strangers you just met wondering why you would want to go into a particular field, just because of your gender. Its insanity that such commentary is still encountered by women in this day and age.
Statistically speaking, you probably know at least one woman in your life. There’s a good chance you are even close with one, whether by blood or your own choosing. Every day, they and people just like them have to deal with a society that wants to keep them “in their place”. They will be judged not by the quality of their work, but by their appearance and willingness to play their part in a man’s world. That’s not the sort of world I want for my mother and aunts, my cousins, my loved ones, and my future progeny. I hope its one you don’t want for yours, either.