Friday, April 5, 2013

Feminism is a joke, a hate movement, a hate group, a mental disorder; it is annoying, a lie, a dirty word, a sin, a failure. This is what comes up when you type ‘feminism is ’ into Google.  This is what people are googling; this is what people think of feminism. Or is it? Is this just what people think they are suppose to think of feminism? According to an in-depth study with the Communications Consortium Media Center and the Feminist Majority Foundation that was conducted Nov. 4–6, 2012 by Lake Research Partners, when a group of people were asked privately if they consider themselves a feminist, 55% of women and 30% of men say they do. If so many people think of themselves as feminists then it can’t be that everyone thinks the horrible things that are googled. It seems we need to recognize that nothing is wrong with being a feminist and spread the word that what they fight for IS needed, then we can progress our society.
So you agree that feminism is a joke? Unnecessary? Or annoying? Maybe you are even a woman and you think it isn’t a big deal. A study done by Glick and Fiske was repeated on a smaller scale by the University of South Carolina’s Department of Psychology and confirmed. The University of Psychology asked women ages 18 to 24 to write an essay about what it meant to be a woman. The study had three goals: to examine essay content to see if themes related to ambivalent sexism were generated spontaneously, to examine participants’ perceptions of themselves compared to older generation’s perceptions of women, and to examine the relationship between participants’ essay themes and their scores on the Ambivalent Sexism Inventory. Both this study and the national one done by Glick and Fiske found that 99% of respondents spontaneously reported at least one sexist event in their lives (Fields).  Clearly if women are writing about sexism in essays meant to just be about being a woman, sexism must be a daily part of being a woman. This study also found that 61% of women had self-statements agreeing with benevolent sexism (Fields). While that is astonishing, it also helps to support the final conclusion of the third goal of the study, which is that it was found in both studies that ASI scores are positively correlated with indices of gender inequality at a national level. What you can deduce from this is that the more sexist events in your life, the higher your ASI score and the more you are sexist or think that the sexism is okay or normal. This statistic makes sense, but also shows that the reason a lot of women might not believe in sexism or feminism is because they might not realize it is happening to them. They might think it’s normal and okay and nothing needs to change. However, that is not the case.
It is not okay that there are always double standards for men and women; it can change though. We don’t have to believe that when a man has a lot of sexual partners that he is awesome, held above others, but when a woman does the same she is a slut, whore, the lowest of the low. We don’t have to believe that when a man is angry it is for a good reason, but when a woman is angry she is just overreacting, hormonal, or PMSing. We don’t have to believe that guys are romantic when they go the extra mile to find you or show up unexpectedly, but when a woman does she is a crazy stalker or desperate. These double standards don’t just hurt women either. Men are expected to be breadwinners, to be strong, and to be all about sex. I know I wouldn’t want to be seen as sex crazed and having no control over my sexual aggression. Beyond that though with these expectations, it is hard for a man to take the role as primary caregiver to children even if that’s what he wants. Double standards hurt everyone, and if we become more aware we can end them.

Real Images I found when googling 'I need Feminism' with real captions by real people, who really think this.
These come from a website called full of more of these. 
While feminism may or may not be a dirty word around the world, gender inequality exists everywhere.  From Egypt, Bahrain, Syria, and Saudi Arabia where women have extremely high travel restrictions and are not even allowed to drive, to female infanticide in China and India, to the access of education for women in Afghanistan, to sexual subjugation in Morocco.  You can find gender inequalities similar to those in the US in places like Europe and Canada especially when you look at the work place. In the UK, women hold less than one third of the top jobs and make 10% less for equivalent positions. It was calculated that it will be 97 years before they close the wage gap there. In Ireland only 30% of management positions are taken by women, and women make 17% less than men for the same jobs. In the top 20% of Canadian earners women are underrepresented by almost three fold. In Canada, 35%  of women don’t even finish high school. In the European Union, women are making 17.5% of what men are making on average and the employment rate for women is only 62.5%. Only 8.1% of men work part time to the 31.4% of women who do. In fact, men make more than women for the exact same occupations in all countries except one.

While all of those facts are startling, one good thing is many European countries are doing something about it. Poland, Sweden, Finland, Denmark, and the Netherlands are working on these problems through corporate governance codes and charters that companies can volunteer to sign (Rubio-Martin).  Gender quotes set by legislation are even being considered. Norway became the first country in the world in 2003 to pass a law requiring at least 40% of each sex on corporate boards (Rubio-Martin). Spain, Iceland, Italy, Belgium, and France have since followed in Norway’s footsteps and passed very similar laws requiring the same. Through these small steps, these countries are making a huge difference in working towards gender equality.

In the United States, gender inequality is just as bad yet nothing is being done to fix it. Here feminism is seen, as the things people are Googling. Even though most people don’t take it seriously, the statistics for the work place in the US are startling. Only 59% of women in US are in the work force (Rubio-Martin). Women’s incomes are only 61% of men’s incomes. This isn’t because of women not going to college either. Women make up 60% of US college students and receive the majority of masters and doctorates. Yet one year out of college women are making 80% of their male counterparts. Then ten years out? It’s 69% of their male counterparts. This wage gap persists over all levels of education. Women make a median weekly wage of 81% of what men make for the exact same occupation. Women are also said to hold 15% of chair seats in Fortune 500 companies and only 2% of boards (Rubio-Martin). In 2007, the top five jobs for women included secretaries, nurses, elementary and middle school teachers, cashiers, and retail personal. Even in the top 20, there is no CEO, surgeon, or engineer in sight. Women make up only 5% of skilled trades and 21% of senior managers. In married families with children under 16, women are making an average of 48% of their husbands. Later on, ages 45-64, they still only make 51% of their husbands. Even Harvard did a study in 2010 and said, “companies say that they treat men and women equally…in reality, they don’t.” If everyone would look at these facts and spread the word, then maybe we can get talking and moving on these problems like Europe is trying to do. 

Now to change things, you need to go to our government. They pass the laws that will help us. In the US, women are not guaranteed the right to anything except voting. African American’s are guaranteed equal rights, but women still aren’t. This should be changed, but we still aren’t even close to equal representation in the government. In 2010, Women held 27% of state judgeships and only 23% of federal judgeships. In 220 years only four women have been justices on the Supreme Court. In the House of Representatives women hold 92 of the 435 seats. As for the Senate, women hold 17 of the 100 seats. Of course, changes can be made before equal representation is achieved. The UK shows proof of that, they only have 13.2% of their senior judges as women and are out numbered four to one in parliament. They at least are talking about this though. Many countries outside the US are making a difference. Slovenia, Spain, Portugal, France, Belgium, and others have laws that impose a gender quote for electing offices (Rubio-Martin). Others, including the UK, Norway, Sweden, Germany, and Poland, have political parties who voluntarily added gender quotes for electoral candidates (Rubio-Martin). These countries are making the difference that the US can too.
Unfortunately, as terrible as all these facts are, they are about to get worse. In the UK over 80,000 women are raped every year and on average two women die each week from domestic violence. Then you can look at Ireland where one in five women report being sexually assaulted, seven times as many as men.  One in seven women experience severe domestic violence, twice as many as men. Here in the US nearly two million women are assaulted each year by a husband or boyfriend. In fact, 18% of women report being a victim to attempted or successful rape. It’s not just all the assault either. It’s that when you go to insult a women, you call her a bitch, slut, whore, or cunt. If you’re going to insult a man? He is a pussy, bitch, cunt, or girl. Wait. So the worst thing to call anyone is always a woman. This shouldn’t be how it is.
Feminism is great, wonderful, progressive, enlightened, brilliant, and needed. So many things need to change and feminists will change them. Many countries are passing laws and talking about these issues. We need to talk about them here. We can make a difference if we stand up for ourselves and for feminists. There are a lot of us out there and when we come together, we will change things. So spread the word and start to make a difference.

Works Citied
Fields, Alice, Suzanne Swan, and Bret Kloos. "“What It Means To Be A Woman:” Ambivalent Sexism In Female College Students’ Experiences And Attitudes." Sex Roles 62.7/8 (2010): 554-567. LGBT Life with Full Text. Web.
Rubio - Marin, Ruth. “A new European parity-democracy sex equality model and why it won't fly in the United States.(Evolutions in Antidiscrimination Law in Europe and North America).” American Journal of Comparative Law 60.1 (2012): 99-125. Print.