I’ve said before that I cannot fathom how there are people – women especially – who don’t understand the need for feminism. That we’re all equal and all feminists really want is to be above men. It drives me crazy every time I hear or see it, because it feels like a smack in the face to every woman who has ever fought for anything. So today, I want to talk about four things that feminists have done for you, without ever receiving so much as a thank you.
The Right to Vote
Perhaps the most obvious, feminists are the sole reason behind your right to vote, whether or not you choose to use that right (which, by the way, is another thing I can’t fathom – having absolutely no interest in the men and women leading your country. But that’s a post for another time). Up until 1920, women were not allowed to vote on the basis that they were not as smart or reasonable as men, and therefore were incapable of making such an important decision.
Right now, it may seem incomprehensible that there was ever a time where there was that large a gap in equality between men and women. Something that clear that men were allowed but women were not. The right to vote is a relatively recent one for women though, and without feminists we still would not have it.
It wasn’t until 1993 that marital rape was illegal throughout all of America, and the campaign to make it illegal hadn’t begun until the 1970’s. Just think about that for a moment – marrying a woman gave a man full legal rights to have sex with her whenever he pleased, regardless of whether or not she wanted to. In a sense, she became his sexual property and to deny that was not recognized by the law.
For many women this may seem like a non-issue, either because you’re either in a loving relationship where your partner would never consider forcing you to do anything, or because you’re sure that you’ll never end up in an abusive relationship (although, for the record, nobody imagines themselves ending up in an abusive relationship. It’s not exactly a planned experience. But again, another post for another time). Just because you are not personally effected by something though, does not make it an unimportant issue and without feminism, there is a chance marital rape would still be legal.
As of 2014, women throughout America could expect to make roughly 77 percent of what their male counterparts make – in any profession, with any level of education and/or experience. This gap varies from state to state, with women in Washington making roughly 90 percent of what men make, and women in Louisiana making 66 percent of what men earn. For women of color, the gap is even larger. Throughout the country though, the average gap is 77 percent, meaning that women earn roughly $.77 for every $1.00 that men earn. No matter what you may think, and regardless of what you believe your personal experience is, this gap does exist. It is very real, and a huge problem throughout America.
Despite this 23 percent gap though, women have made huge strides in achieving equal pay. Seventy-seven percent is an enormous growth from 1980, when women could expect to earn roughly 60 percent of their male counterparts in any field. Median salaries are not something most people can expect to see on a regular basis. For the most part, none of us know what our coworkers are making; so it can be incredibly easy to dismiss the pay gap as a myth or something that doesn’t effect you. But the fact is that it exists, and feminists are the sole force behind making it smaller.
The Right to an Education
Based on a survey I held towards the end of last year, most of my readers are college-educated women, meaning that you have feminism to thank more than anyone. Women have been attending college for years and today, there are all-female universities throughout the country. That wasn’t always the case though, and despite the fact that women were allowed to attend college, many universities continued to discriminate against women until the early 1970’s when Title IX was passed by President Nixon.
For a lot of people, that signature means very little. It’s something that for the most part, we don’t think very much about and when we do, we consider the sports teams that women were now allowed to play on. Title IX was also responsible for ending gender discrimination by all publicly funded schools and activities, meaning that universities (among other programs) could no longer reject an applicant based solely on their gender, a fact for which I’m willing to bet you’ve never thanked a feminist.
These are just four out of hundreds of reasons, so let me know in the comments or on social media what your reasons are to #ThankAFeminist!