Any fool – male or female – who claims feminism is no longer needed deserves to live in Alabama. Our state legislatures and governor just defunded Planned Parenthood, which is responsible for health check-ups, birth control, and emergency health concerns such as UTIs. The right-wing attacks on Planned Parenthood isn’t about the 3% of abortions performed, it’s about controlling women. The fallacious claim that feminism is unnecessary is as stupid as it is unfounded, and the motive of such a claim is about controlling women. Oral contraception wasn’t legal until the 1960s in the United States. It remained illegal in Ireland until the 1990s. A woman (in America) is beaten every 15 seconds. One in four women will be physically assaulted and/or raped by an intimate partner in their lifetime. According to UNICEF, more than 125 million girls and women alive today have been victims of female genital mutilation. According to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, one in three women are the victim violence via an intimate partner sometime in their lifetime. Statistics for the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency 2013 report are chilling. Victims of domestic violence resulting in homicide: 42% wife and 25% girlfriend/ex-girlfriend. From my own experiences, I’d wager the percentage is closer to one in two women for the Southern region of the United States. South Park’s skit “Alabama Man” is funny but depressingly accurate.
There are male feminists just as there are female misogynists. It is only the wealthy – women of means – who have achieved any sort of equality. Classism is the ism of the day, and women of means and power often are just as chauvinistic as their male counterparts. Such women have reconstructed the “glass ceilings” they broke, barring the door for girls and women outside of their socioeconomic class. The only brand of fascist serving “feminism” that’s achieved positive attention is the military scheme of converting women into equally worthless serfs of American militarism. Unfortunately, radical feminists (political correct police and regressive leftists) have done some stupendously dumb things in the name of feminism. As called out by Ayaan Hirsi Ali, separatist feminism of the 1970s and the adherents of today focus on “trivial bullshit.” Silly, pseudo issues like “shirt-gate” and “gamer-gate” are not examples of sexism and/or misogyny. Telling a man he can’t wear a shirt with pin-up models made for him by his girl friend isn’t progress. It’s regressive, rude, and juvenile.
The troll arguments against feminism fallaciously claim that it’s unneeded or sexist. Let’s make this as clear as crystal: Feminism exist to save lives. In the United States, the South remains a stark second world region. In a first world country, women are denied basic human rights: birth-control, health care, equal pay, personal autonomy. Men, namely white men, are not a disenfranchised group. They have not been discriminated against due to sex/gender. Unlike women, they have not been denied their reproductive rights. As we still fight for our inherent reproductive rights, women still die in childbirth at alarming rates: “Maternal mortality is unacceptably high. About 800 women die from pregnancy – or childbirth – related complications around the world every day. In 2013, 289 000 women died during and following pregnancy and childbirth. Almost all of these deaths occurred in low-resource settings, and most could have been prevented.” (World Health Organization) Despite statistics, biological, and historical facts reporting the dangers of pregnancy and childbirth, we still have the archaic custom of requiring a woman’s child take a man’s last name. Women have periods, endure pregnancy, and go through birth to have men take the credit. With such a custom – a custom that is relatively ubiquitous – it is no wonder that women’s health issues are considered controversial in even the most developed, first world countries.
While states opt to defund and slander Planned Parenthood, it is no coincidence that very states doing so have the highest statistics for maternal mortality deaths. Southern states are among the highest for maternal death: Arkansas, Alabama, Texas, Florida…. According to The Washington Post (2014), “The researchers estimated that 18.5 mothers died for every 100,000 births in the U.S. in 2013, a total of almost 800 deaths. That is more than double the maternal mortality rate in Saudi Arabia and Canada, and more than triple the rate in the United Kingdom.” And while the GOP concerns itself with fetal tissue: “U.S. women are more likely to die during childbirth than women in any other developed country, leading the U.S. to be ranked 33rd among 179 countries on the health and well-being of women and children.” (Modern Healthcare)
It is a failure of human conscience that feminism is attacked and denied legitimacy when atrocities such as female genital mutilation, rape and victim shaming, wage inequality, maternal death rates, demonizing of single mothers, poor shaming, slut shaming, forced “adoptions” are social and global epidemics. Both the neoliberal (regressive left) and typical conservative often dismiss all the above as “cultural” issues. Cultural issues are women’s issues, and women’s issues are human issues. Girls and women do not stand alone as a separate and inferior species, although some cultural, political, social, and religious factions seemingly classify females as such.
When you first get the budding of boobs or your first period, you’re no longer considered a child. You’re looked at as fertile ground for a rapist, be it a family friend or stranger. You’re taught how not to get raped, as your male peers are told they can grow up to do and be anything. There’s a creepy “virginity watch” on you. Theoretical debates begin over your virgin womb before you even know what the fuck a womb is. Society begins to sexualize you as early as kindergarten with dress codes targeting girls. Religious creeps tell you you’re evil because you have a vagina in between your legs instead of a penis and scrotum. It’s ten times worse if you attend a parochial school. Yet we live in a society where some erroneously claim feminism isn’t needed.
I sincerely hope that there is a “post feminist” future ahead. But I don’t expect to live to see it. Maybe my hypothetical grandchildren will live in such an enlightened and evolved world. I sincerely hope that one day we can truly say women’s rights are finally considered human rights by all. Until then, we need feminism.
Pew Research Center
“Even though women have increased their presence in higher-paying jobs traditionally dominated by men, such as professional and managerial positions, women as a whole continue to work in lower-paying occupations than men do. And some part of the pay gap may also be due to gender discrimination – women are about twice as likely as men to say they had been discriminated against at work because of their gender (18% vs. 10%).”
National Coalition Against Domestic Violence
World Health Organization
Alabama Law Enforcement Agency
Illinois Department of Public Health
Central Intelligence Agency
The Washington Post
Center for Disease Control and Prevention