3 Reasons Why I Need Feminism (And Why You Do Too)

Last week, I wrote about why you should thank a feminist. I wrote about a few of the incredible things that feminism has accomplished that, more than likely, you and I don’t even think about on a regular basis; things like our right to vote and to an education. What I didn’t write about though are the things feminism still has to change, and why it’s still so important today even with everything we’ve already accomplished.

I Need Feminism
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Rape Culture

One in six American women has been sexually assaulted in her lifetime. That’s a statistic that probably doesn’t surprise much of anyone and we can all agree that rape is an absolutely disgusting crime. And yet, of the rapes which are reported and taken to court, only two percent of rapists will ever spend a day in prison for the crime they committed. And that’s just of those rapes which are reported. An average of 32 percent of sexual assaults are never even reported.

No other crime in America has that low of a conviction rate, and that fact alone is alarming for a crime that destroys so many lives. Largely, this is because of the way our country treats rape victims – immediately asking what they were wearing and whether they’d been drinking rather than how we can help. Even if the victim manages to make a report, the defendant’s counsel will ask her the same questions the police officers did when she reported it; and while that’s understandable – it’s the attorney’s job – the fact that jury members and the media will also ask those questions is not.

Equal Pay

I mentioned in my post on what feminism has accomplished that the gender pay gap has decreased dramatically in recent years. While this is a fantastic accomplishment though, it’s not enough. While the gap varies based on age and state, the average American woman can expect to make $.77 on the $1.00 that their male counterparts make – for the same jobs, with the same level of experience and education, and the same number of hours worked. In case you need a recognizable example of this, Angelina Jolie is the highest paid actress in Hollywood. She makes the same amount of money as the two lowest paid actors. That means that every single actress can expect to be making less than their male counterparts.

Not only that (as though it’s not enough), but when you bring up the gender pay gap an alarming number of people will tell you that it’s a myth, no longer a problem in modern America. In fact, when I turned to Google for statistics the first suggestion that came up, even before the search term I was actually looking for, was “gender pay gap myth.” The fact that we have this gap is enough of a problem, but the fact that nobody believes the problem exists makes it that much more difficult to do anything about it.

Representation

In 2013, of the 535 total members of congress only about 18 percent were female. In news media such as journalism and television news, the number of female employees is dwarfed by the number of (old) white men. Of the 71 countries throughout the world that have been lead by a woman, America is not one. As recent as 2011, only 11 percent of lead characters in movies were female. When you discuss a male politician, you discuss his political views; when you discuss his female counterparts, you discuss how great her arms are or how out of style her suit is. Last week I asked my Facebook friends whether they’d vote for Hilary Clinton as president. Of the seven people who responded, five said absolutely not; and none of them had a single political reason. Instead, they all said she was “crazy” or “terrifying,” with no explanation as to how or why. And finally, the rampant sexism portrayed during the Superbowl – arguably the most popular day for advertising throughout America – has become so well-known that it’s joked about on shows like SNL. Without even watching the Superbowl the other night, I saw four commercials and three of them were centered around naked or half-naked women (as in Carl Jr.’s ad where we’re not even pretending that women are seen as anything but something for men to consume).

For all these reasons and so many more, I need feminism. Because without feminism, we never would have made it this far; and without feminism we won’t move any further. Because I even need to write this post to counteract all the MRAs trolling the Internet talking about men not being allowed to wear dresses. I need feminism because denying that need is like sitting in a pitch dark room trying to read and swearing you don’t need to turn a light on to do it.

But even after all that, I’m sure plenty of men are looking on and thinking well okay, but what do need feminism for? It’s not doing anything for me. But the fact is that without equality, we can never move forward together. Without equal representation and acceptance for both sides, we can never succeed as one great country because we’ll always be engaged in a silent war with one another. You need feminism because every day, feminists fight to break down the gender roles requiring men to never cry or show emotion. Because the LGBTQA community of which feminists are a large part is fighting not only for women but for men as well.

You need feminism because if women are in the dark so are you.

I need feminism

  • http://baredmysoul.blogspot.com/ Lux @ Bared My Soul

    So fierce! I love it! I’ve always been one of those who are fighting for feminism for as long as I can remember. Even in the every day mundane ordinary office life, it seems we have to always remind everyone that women deserve more than what they’re getting nowadays. Bravo to this beautiful and encouraging post.

    I like Emma Watson so much (Potter fan), so I’m all into what she’s fighting for too. I mean just another reason to love her, and this revolution. :)

    • http://www.sheisfierce.org/ Kiersten McMonagle

      I’m glad to hear that feminism is something you’ve always stood behind! Personally, I never thought much about it until college, and I always admire the people who have been doing this most of their lives. I was one of those people who just didn’t realize most of the sexism that existed.

  • http://anaspiringheroine.com/ Tyler

    I think the gender pay gap is an issue that doesn’t get nearly enough coverage. I mean, when Sony gets hacked, and it comes to light that huge Hollywood actresses like Jennifer Lawrence and Amy Adams aren’t being compensated nearly as well as their male counterparts (who had smaller roles/didn’t bring in as large of an audience for the movie!), it should be a wake up call for people living in “modern” America.

    Have you ever heard of “Equal Pay Day?” It typically occurs in early April to symbolize how far into the next year women would have to work to earn what men earned that year. If only women had an extra four months a year to work, then we’d all be on equal standing…

    • http://www.sheisfierce.org/ Kiersten McMonagle

      You’re absolutely right – it’s only recently that people have started talking about it, and even still so many people will tell you it’s all made up. I actually had a friend say to me “if that’s true, why don’t companies hire all women?” I didn’t know where to go from there in explaining the problem to her, because she was so utterly convinced that it was made up.

      I have heard of Equal Pay Day, and I love the recognition it brings to the problem!

  • http://www.nomadnotebook.com/ Lizzy

    Representation is such a hard barrier to break down, but I have hope that eventually, women will be not only accepted but welcomed and celebrated more in the work place. In a field where there are few women, I’ve found that not only is the actual representation of women poor in the work place, but also how difficult it is to break down these representation barriers and change the situation we have.

    Lizzy from Nomad Notebook

    • http://www.sheisfierce.org/ Kiersten McMonagle

      I agree – it runs so so deep, that most people don’t even realize how underrepresented women are. I’m sure that if you asked most people, they wouldn’t notice a lack of female characters in movies and shows. And I know studies have been done that show if women speak even half as much as men in a conversation, they’re perceived as having spoken more than the men. It makes it so hard to combat when people don’t even notice it as a problem.

  • http://www.kaseyatthebat.com Kasey Decker

    those Carl’s Jr ads make me so angry every time.

    • http://www.sheisfierce.org/ Kiersten McMonagle

      I know! I don’t even know how to describe my anger about them, because shouldn’t it be obvious that commercials like that shouldn’t exist? Why should I have to explain that?

  • http://clayxmatthewsxfan89.blogspot.com/ Jessica Marie

    That’s so true and after an experience I had, I understood why a lot of women don’t report. It’s just as traumatizing.

    I wouldn’t vote for Hilary; not because she’s a woman or terrifying or scary, I just don’t agree with her politically. But, I agree with the representation. I have to watch the Carl Jr’s ads – I didn’t watch the Super Bowl the other night and didn’t really pay attention to ads.

    • http://www.sheisfierce.org/ Kiersten McMonagle

      I completely understand that – at least as much as I’m able to, without have experienced it myself. I know the stories I’ve heard, and it’s awful.

      See that I don’t take issue with. Personally, I would vote for her (I think. I’d have to see her campaign to know for sure), but as long as you have legitimate political reasons, that makes sense. My problem was with people saying “hell no she’s fucking crazy,” and then being completely unwilling or unable to expand on that when I asked.

      • http://clayxmatthewsxfan89.blogspot.com/ Jessica Marie

        Overall, I’m not a fan of her politics, but she does have some wonderful positions. I’m a libertarian, but I usually vote for the best candidate for our country. I don’t think one party is the devil and the other is the second coming of Jesus; I think the Republicans, Democrats, Libertarians and other parties all have great points, then not some great points. Then again, I never base my decisions on “hell no, she’s nuts!” I try to research things.

  • http://www.tapeparade.wordpress.com Laila

    I don’t know if my blog is particularly outspoken or if I’m just quite outspoken in real life, it’s not something that comes up on my blog a lot but as a leader in a male industry I definitely feel like I’m waving my feminist flag in my day-to-day life. I also did report both my rapes and the police were great (I’m UK based). This is my first visit to your blog by the way! I’m going to read your archives now :) xx

    • http://www.sheisfierce.org/ Kiersten McMonagle

      I’m so sorry to hear that that is something you’ve gone through at all, let alone twice – but I’m glad that you reported it and were able to find help!

  • Lisa Stone

    Kiersten, thank you for this kick-off post and for contributing your leadership to #womenslives.

    I can’t stop saying, “It’s not a four-letter word, it’s a movement!” Made my day.

    • http://www.sheisfierce.org/ Kiersten McMonagle

      Thank you so much for reading, Lisa! I love writing posts about feminism (this link-up is something I do monthly with Kelly from The Lady Errant) so I am so excited to be participating in #womenslives!

  • http://www.aweekendcrossing.com/ Marla @ A Weekend Crossing

    This is so amazing and empowering and tragic…I can’t believe that statistic about only 2% of rapists ever going to jail. So absolutely unacceptable and terrifying.

  • Miu

    Thank you for writing about feminism!

    I do not have a source from the top of my head, but I read somewhere that the 0,77$ women earn for 1$ of the men only applies to white women.