Monday, August 11, 2014

Feminism is important because…

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I recently found out that there is a whole social media movement against feminism… by women. Proponents of #WomenAgainstFeminism apparently think that since a woman almost became president and boys now get into trouble at school for snapping girls’ bra straps that our fight to be treated like equal humans is over. They think feminism is insulting and that feminists play the victim. They think feminists hate men and want supremacy over equality. 

I want to make it clear that feminism doesn't mean any of these things, although it can mean different things to different women. Here’s why feminism is still important to me:

Feminism is important to me…
… because strange men still feel entitled to put their hands on me.
… because daughters are taught to walk through dark parking lots with their keys like this. ---->
… because street harassment makes me feel small, powerless and terrified, NOT flattered.
… because even if I pretend to be flattered, he might hurt me.
… because even if I ignore him, he might hurt me.
… because strange men have followed me to my car on several occasions.
… because nursing mothers are hassled and told to cover up.
… because Bratz dolls.
… because I was the only girl in my high school physics class.
… because having ten white men on a board of directors is not a coincidence.*
… because at 52% of the population, we are not a special interest group.*
… because you never hear of a man taking his wife’s last name.
… because Maxim, strippers and porn.
... because boys learn early on to objectify women and that they need to "man up."
… because many college guys (and girls!) don’t understand that a drunk girl can’t give consent.
… because women are taught to prevent rape, and men are not taught to not rape.
… because being a little girl in Africa is the scariest thing ever.
… because sex trafficking is a worldwide problem.
… because way too many us have received a picture of some dude’s penis.
… because sexist plot lines are still prevalent in almost every American sitcom.
… because the term “bitch” gets thrown around a bit too freely.
… because I'm trying to raise two boys to become kind, compassionate and respectful men.
… because living in fear is no way to live.
… because too many women mistakenly believe feminism equals victimhood.
… because my voice alone won't make a difference - men and women need to fight for change together.

*These two are paraphrased quotes from the clever, witty Kara Swisher from her on-stage interview with Melissa Barnes at #BlogHer14 . 

I’m not saying we should all burn our bras on the courthouse lawn or anything like that. I’m just saying that we need to be vocal. If something doesn’t feel right, it probably isn’t. We need to feel free to stop pretending we’re comfortable with uncomfortable things. We need to stand up to those trying to put us in our place and keep us silent.

Don’t want to take your husband’s last name? Cool. Don’t do it.

Don’t like how your male co-workers keep interrupting you? Speak up and tell them to stop.

Don’t want to use a nursing cover in public? Great. Let your baby eat and breathe at the same time. (Seriously, if we’re going burn something, let’s burn nursing covers, shall we?)

For starters, you could check out these social media campaigns to stop street harassment and participate however you feel compelled. Even if it’s just a “like” or a share, use your voice.

#YouOKSis by Feminista Jones (I heard her speak at #BlogHer14, and… wow.)

#ThatsWhatHeSaid and #YesAllWomen on the Huffington Post