Often, when the fact that I am a feminist comes up in a conversation, people —mostly men, but some women, too— have this look on their face. You know the look that says “Here we go again” because they do not understand how feminism fits into today’s occidental culture, and they think I am only staunchly defending this fight because I am a bored, spoiled, white girl. It might be surprising, but it happens quite a lot. The thing is, our western society really does need feminism. Although we do not need it as badly as underdeveloped countries do, we still need it. And here is why.
One in four North American women will be sexually assaulted in their lifetime. That means that in my class, group 504, a class of 33 students of which 18 are girls, 4 to 5 of us will be victims of sexual assault. The problem is that I should not have to go about my daily business wondering and worrying if today is the day that I become the one in four women. It is my right to walk the street without fearing this horrible fate.
Girls are four times more likely than boys to be sexually assaulted by a family member. Just imagine this. You are at a Christmas party with all of your family and a family member has drunk a lot. After everyone has gone to bed, you hear the inebriated family member knocking on your door. He/she is family, so you do not think much of it and you let him/her in. He/she sits on your bed and gets closer to you. Something happens. It is a family member. You know it is not right, but what can you do? He/she is drunk and way bigger than you. A drunk family member just ruined your life.
Every six days, a woman is killed by her intimate partner. That means that over the course of a whole year, in Canada, 60 women are killed at the hands of the companion who, most of the time, is the person they trust most. This is truly alarming. Given the fact that relationships involve giving yourself to and trusting one another, it is absolutely horrifying to know that the person you trust might do this in return. A little fact related to this is that women aged from 15 to 44 are more at risk of getting raped and being victims of domestic violence than of being diagnosed with cancer, being in a car accident, living through a war and having malaria inclusively.
American women serving in Iraq or Afghanistan are more likely to be raped by their comrade than to be killed by an enemy. When you go to war, you go to serve your country. Correct me if I am wrong, but raping your fellow coworkers is NOT serving your country.
Women earn 75 cents for every dollar a man makes, including part time and full time workers.6 This pay gap is even larger for indigenous, Hispanic, black and non-caucasian women. The gender wage gap is a real thing. I am not saying a woman should be paid equally simply because she is woman, but that she should be paid the amount which corresponds to her talent and experience. So many women are denied their rightful salaries because of their gender. This is not right.
How do all these facts relate to feminism? Well, feminism, as defined in the dictionary, is a range of political movements, ideologies, and social movements that share a common goal: to define, establish and achieve political, economic, and social equality of the sexes. All these facts go hand in hand with feminism because feminists, whether they be women or men, fight against all these types of discrimination. We still need feminism because feminists fight against rape culture. We still need feminism because we fight not only for women’s rights, but for human rights which may be as basic as the right not to be beaten up by a partner because we are deemed the “inferior gender”. We still need feminism because far too often when a woman goes to the bank to get a loan to mortgage a new business, the banker’s first instinct is to assume that she is opening this business with a man.
In this article, I only wrote about the importance of feminism for women in western culture. I cannot say enough that feminism is not only for these women. Feminism is for all the minorities who do not get to fight for themselves because the world just does not want to hear them. Feminism is for women and men who live in underdeveloped countries, it’s for the LGBTQ+ community and it’s for the social pressure boys and men face all over the world. Whether you are ready to believe it or not, feminism is still a necessity.
The Feminist Series