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The F Word Part 3: Why I am a Feminist

People+marching+on+Washington+the+day+after+the+election.+A+nasty+woman+poster+is+displayed+in+response+to+Trump%E2%80%99s+comments+%28Lorie+Shaull%2C+Wikimedia%29.
People marching on Washington the day after the election. A nasty woman poster is displayed in response to Trump’s comments (Lorie Shaull, Wikimedia).

People marching on Washington the day after the election. A nasty woman poster is displayed in response to Trump’s comments (Lorie Shaull, Wikimedia).

People marching on Washington the day after the election. A nasty woman poster is displayed in response to Trump’s comments (Lorie Shaull, Wikimedia).

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 The feminist movement has frequently been a topic of debate for many decades. With the shifting of the reins of government, the women’s march, and the International Women’s Day (March 8th), I realized that there are a lot of misconceptions about feminism. I am writing this to address the misconceptions and to show that not all feminists are radical or unreasonable as frequently perceived.

 I stand with the basic definition that most dictionaries use. Feminism is “the advocacy of women’s rights on the basis of the equality of the sexes,” as written by the Oxford Dictionary. It is just equality. I realize that is a scary word, but I believe equality needs to be pursued. I recognize that there are gender and social injustices in this country and even in the world. I want to work to bring attention to these injustices and try to bring about change.

 Most of the  critics of feminism miss the true point of the feminist movement. Most have distorted the meaning behind feminism in order to prove their point. I understand that not everyone will agree with the true meaning of feminism, but I at least want to show people the side of feminism the media and top officials don’t address.

I want to help fight in order to progress past the idea of forcing gender roles and getting rid of gender barriers. I want women to be able to have the same opportunity and not be scrutinized for not succumbing to traditional roles. I want to fight for equality. This society has progressed so much that this should not be an issue.

 Femininity is not only limited to women, and masculinity is not only limited to men. People can have characteristics of both. Women are portrayed as emotional, sensitive, homemakers, and are hypersexualized. Men are portrayed as strong, muscular bread winners. People have a hard time understanding that these roles are severely outdated. I understand that not every woman experiences these stereotypes, but these stereotypes are still prevalent. The are shown through media sources such as movies and music. There are hidden messages that people may not realize contribute to gender inequality. For example, in 2013, Robin Thicke released “Blurred Lines.” This song became very popular, but people did not realize the innuendos and how women were being portrayed. In superhero movies, the women are put into sexualized costumes in order for the movie to attract more people.  By continuing these ideas of what men and women should be, it is only furthering the gender inequality. When a women enters a job interview, these stereotypes will be considered by the interviewer whether they mean it or not. People use their preconceived ideas of other people and apply them. It is unavoidable, but our society needs to push forward to change the stereotypes we are taught from a young age.

 I am tired of talking about my future and people asking me how I am going to take care of my children. I am tired of the idea that women have to have children. I am tired of hearing people say that women shouldn’t hold positions of power, and they should just be submissive and please men. These are all things that I hear and am told on a weekly basis. Our society has gotten used to the idea that women have their set roles, and they should not deviate from them.

 One issue that I am continuously confused about is the unequal pay, the gender wage gap. I am not talking about minimum wage or other lowing paying jobs because there isn’t much of a discrepancy. I am talking about the white collar jobs, the job that require a degree. A lot of the gap is due to occupational differences and the cultural biases against women joining certain jobs. There is gender occupational sorting that occurs. The jobs women do take have a trend that does pay lower like service jobs. According to the US Department of Labor, as a financial manager, women make $602 less than men. As a software developer, women make $337 less than men. These jobs have negotiated contracts, and it is obvious that women get the short end of the stick. These types of jobs have less restrictions on allowing sexism to prevail in the,employment. Even in jobs that are in salary scheduled jobs like medical nurses and teachers where there can’t be as much as a discrepancy, women are paid less.

 One argument against the wage gap is unequal pay for unequal work. There wouldn’t be unequal work if women weren’t discouraged from pursuing certain occupations like in STEM and business. Even when ‘unequal’ work is adjusted for, there is still a wage gap. Why women are not paid the same for the same job title baffles me. I just don’t understand the reasoning for it. I also don’t understand why women are discouraged from going into male-dominant jobs not to mention that we are treated as unequals in male-dominated occupations according to Jessica Schieder and Elise Gould from the Economic Policy Institute.

U.S. Department of Labor statistics showing the discrepancies between the pay of women and men.

The well known “We Can Do It” poster to rally women to enter the work field during WWII (Wikimedia).

Women are institutionally and personally discouraged from entering certain careers; they are singled out.

 Now I will never tell a another woman that the decision she is making is wrong or doesn’t fit the feminist agenda. I just want equality, especially equality of opportunity. I want every women to have the same opportunities as men without getting gender and social barriers that prevent this. Not every women has to act on the opportunity. If a women wants to follow traditional American gender roles, by all means she can. I will never discourage this. It may not be what I want for my life, but I am fighting so that if that woman wanted to, she would have the opportunity without unnecessary obstacles.

 A lot of people will mention well what about women not wanting to register for the draft so we are being hypocritical. Well, there is an easy solution, we should register for the draft. In a situation like this we can not just pick and choose what we want to be equal to men on. The idea of women even in the military is still a controversial topic,so I do not think this will be a piece of legislation that will pass. I am just putting it out there that if equality means i have to register for the draft just like men, then I will have no problem doing it.

 I have a resentment towards the meninist movement that reemerged in recent years. The movement was first created in the early 2000s actually in support of the feminist movement, but recently this view has changed. It is now a satirical movement for equality for men. I would not have a problem if they fought to break gender roles for men being the bread winners or defeat the idea that men have to look a certain way to be masculine. I wish the people who supported this movement actually fought for something other than degrading the feminist movement. This is one of the exact social obstacles women face everyday. We are made fun of for wanting to be equal or calling out the inequalities in the world.

 I know women in the United States are not the worst off, but that will not stop me for fighting to continue this societal progress for full equality. Not every woman experiences the same inequalities or will even face inequality like other women do. I can promise you that a mass majority of us face inequalities and obstacles every day because of our gender. Some women might not realize that they are being put down because of their gender due to the cultural norm and general way of thinking that women are the lesser people. I wish people would open their eyes and realize that there is a problem and it should be changed.

 Do I have a solution to fix these inequalities? No, I do don’t. I think the government can do some things that can fix certain issues like making sure that men and women that have occupations at equal rank get paid the same. The ratio between women-dominated and male-dominated occupations do not have discrepancies. The reality of this situation is that this is a cultural norm. We will have to completing shift and change the normalities of our culture. This can be done through education, open-mindedness, and continuing our progressive society. It is really hard to fix issues that were implemented to protect women, but the protections are not necessary. We are at a point where the sexism needs to stop, and people need to get over the fact the women should be treated as equals socially and under the law.

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The F Word Part 3: Why I am a Feminist