February 28, 2013
Speaking up for woman and identifying myself with women's rights was not a natural progression for me, as I grew up in an upper middle class white family in suburbia USA. The common train of thought is that women's rights have been had, that was something our mothers fought for, and now we are reaping the benefits. Through television and the media, women's rights activists are seen as misguided individuals - a fight without a cause, misandry, passe.
I became painfully aware of the injustices women face in this country during the 2012 election cycle. The news began picking up a series of hateful, ignorant and power-hungry quotes from male representatives. Their words perpetuated lies about reproduction (“If it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down.” - Todd Akin), encouraged hateful judgement towards rape victims ("some girls, they rape so easy" - Roger Rivard), and refused to recognize the still prevalent inequalities in the workplace. Because these issues, which I believed were resolved years ago, hit the media all at once, I was knocked into the reality of my situation with the harsh bright lights of injustice shining down on me.
I started noticing more issues of feminism than I ever had before. Even the word "feminism" is a dirty word. Television commercials perpetuated the image of helpless women, or those whose lives are drastically improved with the invention of a new household cleaning product (still quite 1950s, if you ask me). There is this idea that women are meant to be "got" by the hero man. That we will be thrilled by any attention that is diverted our way, because our life goals MUST include getting married and having babies. Despite the fact that women in the US have a higher rate of college graduation, we are still paid $0.70 to the $1 that men are paid. Women continuously demonstrate an ability to make smart decisions in business, and we our perform men in investing by 14%. Yet, we are constantly portrayed as too "emotional" to perform work duties (how is being emotional a bad thing?)
I have become so sensitive to the ever prevalent issues of women's rights, that global issues are starting to appear on my radar. This is an area of women's rights I am still learning about and excited to learn how to be active in.