The Phoenix

It’s Time to Talk

Some facts and opinions on feminism

We asked three people what they think the definition of feminism is…

“I think it’s women having the equal opportunity as men and having genders no affect someone’s ability to succeed in life.” -Leigh Steiner

“Feminism, as I understand it, is recognizing and defending the equal dignity of women and their contributions, but it does not mean that they need to be the same as men to have that dignity and value.” -Mr. Bosch

“People creating a movement for women’s rights” -Sawyer Schugel

 

There is an underlying issue in our society today that many people do not like to discuss. The discussion of feminism and topics related to gender equality is commonly tabled and ignored. Many may roll their eyes at the discussion we are about to have. Although the topic is random in the context of our current school year, we are here to potentially open people’s eyes to issues that cause deep division and inequality in America, where “all men are born equal”. Out of the variety of issues regarding women’s rights and equality, we want to address two things: the societal reactions to women in terms of sexism and the physical struggles women deal with in everyday life such as the wage gap, domestic abuse, and victim-blaming. We decided to ask the student body and staff some questions about feminism.

 

What is the most common stereotype or sexist comment you have heard?

“You can’t do it because you’re a girl.”  -Maggie Berg

“People always tell me that I’m intimidating, but if a guy were athletic and smart it wouldn’t be a big deal if I were a guy.” -Anonymous

“You’re acting like a girl. I think that really just implies weakness.” -Colin Dosedel

“Guys can’t show emotions.” -Dominic Phillips

 

The biggest challenge that the feminist movement is trying to tackle is the social and cultural reaction to women as well as the stereotypes, bias, and sexism that exists to belittle women as well as men in the world. There is a common misconception that anything related to women is considered weak; therefore, men are held to the illusion that being emotional is feminine while women are told that being strong or intelligent is manly. For decades, women have done their best to work towards equality but equality should not mean that women must conform to male versions of success. Feminism strives towards the equality of the sexes, not solely females. With equal opportunities and eradication of sexism, men and women are able to strive for their goals while not being held to stereotypes of strength vs. weakness or intelligence vs. foolishness.



What is the hardest struggle women have to deal with in the real world?

“Basic human rights. Especially in Saudi Arabia, the restraints and laws keep them from a lot of opportunity. The biggest issue in the United States I’d say is the pay gap.” -Dr. Pottebaum

“Women have to be better at everything in order to advance in their careers. They have to be better than their male counterparts.” -Mrs. Halvorson

“Trying to live up to men’s expectations, because our world is run by them.” -Mrs. Barnholdt

 

    Women have always been fighting for equality, but we saw the first surge of this movement in the United States during the nineteen-hundreds. The 19th amendment gave hope to many women, but the amendment only gave women a voice in the government. It did not fix other inequalities between men and women. The physical as well as social justices sought after by women are seldom accomplished. For example women typically struggle with things such as the wage gap, domestic abuse, and victim-blaming.

The wage gap, although often refuted, is very much a real and big problem for women in the United States. According to AAUW.org, in 2016, full-time working women were paid 80% of what a man was paid. Although, this percentage has increased since the mid to late 1900’s, the rate of the change is slow; if it continues, we won’t see equal pay until 2059 (AAUW). Location, race, and maternity affect the depth of this gap. For example, Hispanic women were paid only 54% of what white men were paid in 2016.  Furthermore, there was little to no real facts opposing the wage gap. The main arguments against the wage gap are that men choose higher paying jobs, they choose to work dangerous or isolated jobs that pay more, and my personal favorite, said from CBS NEWS, “Even within the same career category, men are more likely to pursue high-stress and higher-paid areas of specialization. For example, within the medical profession, men gravitate to relatively high-stress and high-paying areas of specialization, like surgery, while women are more likely to pursue relatively lower-paid areas of specialization like pediatrician or dentist.” These ‘facts’ are ridiculous and misguided. Other than the fact there was little statistics support these facts, the argument that women won’t or can’t work harder than men just promotes the cultural problems of women being seen as weaker than men.

Another thing that affects women (and men) daily, is domestic abuse and rape. According to NCADV.org, 1 in 3 women and 1 in 4 men have been victims of [some form of] physical violence by an intimate partner within their lifetime. However, women are affected more as the violence becomes more severe and rape comes into play. Not only does this cause physical damage, but emotional damage as well. Along with domestic abuse, victim-blaming plays a big part in our society, specifically, when it comes to sexual abuse cases. As said by Southernct.edu, victim-blaming marginalizes the victim/survivor and makes it harder to come forward and report the abuse. If the survivor knows that society blames them for the abuse, he or she will not feel safe or comfortable coming forward.

You could argue: “Yeah, but society has gotten better and women have rights now.” True, but progress does not mean sexism has disappeared and the advantage of having certain rights does not inherently make the two genders equal. The goal of feminism is not to just pass legislation, but it also strives to change centuries of misconceptions and cultural biases. Both the mentality against women and the physical injustices make equality very difficult to achieve. Everyone in American society is held to a standard of success but when inequality stands in the way of one gender reaching success, both must work together for the benefit of all.

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