JPOV: Feminism Yesterday and Tomorrow

By REBECCA SIMON

What does it mean to be a feminist? Merriam Webster’s Dictionary defines a feminist as an individual who advocates or supports the rights and equality of women. Rush Limbaugh would probably try to tell you that a self-proclaimed feminist is a crazy-eyed anarchist with hairy underarms and legs. The GOP would most likely say that such a person is a threat to the state or an unstable time bomb waiting to abort the freshest fetus. Men beware! The FemiNazi is coming! I can just imagine Alice Paul rolling in her grave, digging her way out from amongst the dead. Today we live in a world that has manifested itself into a bubble, and it’s shrinking by the minute. Suburbia traps us all–it shields us from seeing both the past and the present. Our shiny cars and white picket fences blind us from the income disparity between men and women in the workforce. Ivy League prospects and five star hotels render us oblivious to the abduction of little girls in West Africa. It is because we seem to have it all that we have neglected to appreciate how far we have come and how far we still are from attaining gender equality. We are running an interminable marathon to the top and we have forgotten all those who have given us our strength to begin.

Screen Shot 2014-05-15 at 10.27.02 PMRecently, Joel McHale, E! comedian and Community cast member, hosted the annual White House Correspondents’ Dinner. He quipped about Chris Christie’s notorious “Bridgegate” scandal and the hilariously aloof Joe Biden. However, it was a joke about former Secretary of State and First Lady Hillary Clinton that stood out: “She has experience, she’s a natural leader,” said McHale, “and, as our first female president, we could pay her 30% less.” It is 2014 and nationwide, women earn 77 cents on average for every $1 earned by men. In April, the Paycheck Fairness Act, a piece of legislation originally drafted in 1963 to protect the Fair Labor Standards Act and the Equal Pay Act, was blocked by House Republicans. For 51 years the Equal Pay Act has been a law in the United States, yet after 51 years a median wage gap still exists between the sexes. 
In 1848, Lucretia Mott and Elizabeth Cady Stanton, along with 300 other progressive women and men of the time, met in New York at the Seneca Falls Conference. There, the Declaration of Sentiments was signed. Inspired by the Declaration of Independence, the opening lines of the document declared, “We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men and women are created equal.” Were these pioneers misguided in their fight for an egalitarian society? Based on the legislation passed in the subsequent 150 years, it seems as if they were. The American dream has been the Holy Grail for the oppressed for over two centuries. This dream is to live in a nation where there is a Republican government and equality of opportunity. However, today, only 18% of the seats in the 113th Congress are held by women. We live in a country where the needs of 50% of the population are represented by 18% of the government.
By no means is this editorial intended to shame men or bully them into submission. A feminist by definition is a man or a woman; both sexes have played integral roles in the feminist movement. And after all that has been said and done, as a citizen of the world I am glad to call America my home. Although my government is imperfect and my fellow patriots are far from saints, I am a 17-year-old girl who is able to exercise her inalienable right to speak out against what she believes is unjust. We all live in a flawed world and it is our plight to fix this extraordinary planet. Recognizing women as equal members of our society is a huge step in the right direction.
One Comment

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  • Anacrhist Bob
    29 May 2014 at 4:58 pm - Reply

    Something needs to be taken into consideration first…
    The average wages are lower because women choose different jobs and they take time off for child-bearing and rearing.

    Here is an economist’s point of view…
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EwogDPh-Sow

    Also, you are definitely no anarchist.
    Anarchists don’t turn to the government for ANYTHING.
    Least of all using the force and violence of the state to force businesses to pay more or less via legislation.
    The market pays what it pays for things based on the quality and service provided.
    NOT based on gender.
    You might say that there are a bunch of bigots and racists in huge government-subsidized companies that will have to play ball because their government says so to stay a legal corporation,
    but does this apply to all mom and pop businesses?
    Do they choose to pay women less for bigoted reasons? All of them? Really?

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