Feminism Today: Do We Still Need It? (WTFFeminism Pt 3)

In the last couple of WTF Feminism posts, we’ve talked about what feminism is and who feminists are, but the truth is that I hear pretty often that we don’t need feminism anymore-~-what’s the point?  Women have equal protection under the law.  They can vote, hold jobs, get legal custody of their kids; when they get married, their property no longer becomes their husband’s automatically.  All of this progress has been made and feminism’s job is done, people tell me.

Erin Kratina, a junior at SUNY Old Westbury, said this when asked if we still need feminism:

HELL YES we still need feminism. It’s still being debated whether or not I, as a woman, provoke rape. And it’s being debated on whether or not I should have the right to terminate and unwanted pregnancy. Every day I am judged based on my sex alone, and I for one am fucking tired of a panel of MEN deciding what I should do with MY vagina. It’s MY vagina. Stay out unless I invited you in.

Naturally, I’m with Erin, or why would I be running a feminist blog?  If you’re reading this, you most likely agree that feminism IS still necessary, but the question is, WHY?  What is it that feminists are DOING nowadays that we need to keep them around?  Why are we here?

It’s a good question.  Feminism today doesn’t look like it did a generation or two ago.  It’s true that we no longer need movements like the suffrage movement because, yes, we do have the right to vote.  But there are a lot of issues that concern modern feminists, and now seems like a great time to pause and examine what it is that we are still fighting for.

“Women still are not equal in lots of important things (getting paid equally, etc).  There are lots of professions that women still have very little anchoring in (every part of filmmaking except acting, to name one) and it could be because girls don’t see any appeal because it has always been a male dominated place”–Emma Keyes

Emma Keyes is one of our readers, and she brings up a great point that I also discussed in a previous blog post about women in foreign policy: women are often discouraged from going into certain fields because they see no evidence that they will be successful.  In fact, this issue prompted Vital Voices to sponsor a tweetchat on the subject of women in foreign policy in July of 2011, in which the importance of encouraging women to get into these fields was a major talking point.

There are numerous other issues that our readers mentioned when we asked what feminists were fight against, or fighting for, today:

“Women must be able to make decisions for their bodies, which includes: whether we have sex with someone else, who we decide to have sex with, when we decide to have sex, whether we want to be sterilized, whether we want our genitals mutilated, whether we want to prevent a pregnancy, whether we want an abortion, how we want to dress”–Liza Wolff-Francis, Matrifocalpoint.com

“I’d say abortion and contraception are two of the most important issues…they’re issues I’ve seen first- or second-hand…they impact people I know, friends; they’re not just statistics”-~-Nicole Davies, American University ’11

Hayley and I could not agree more.  I would argue that, in this day and age when women’s rights (especially women’s reproductive and health-related rights) are under attack in the political forum, feminists cannot afford to become complacent.  States like Virginia are passing bills mandating medically unnecessary invasive procedures in an attempt to force a political agenda; organizations like Planned Parenthood are losing funding that they need in order to provide important services like cancer screenings; women are being told it is their fault that they were raped and in fact live in a culture where they are expected to laugh about the violent crime which they survived.  If that is the America we live in today, then I would say that not only does feminism have a place but,as people try to argue that it is no longer necessary, it becomes increasingly important that feminists fight back.

The last thing any of us wants is for women to lose the rights they have gained over the past few decades.  The feminists who came before us did not put in all that work so that feminists today could throw up their hands and say the war is over, and lose everything all over again.  The war is not over.  It is so far from over that for anyone to tell me that feminism is no longer needed seems absurd-~-because in a society in which women’s rights are under attack and the rights we do have cannot always be accessed, the only thing to do is to fight, and to keep fighting.

If you are unsure what feminism’s role is today, just look at the way women are treated in society, the laws that are being pushed, issues like victim-blaming and street harassment and the lack of women in the sciences, and so on and so forth.  And then just ask yourself this question: is this the world you want your daughter to live in?

If you answered no, you now understand what feminists are fighting for today.


~ by Randi Saunders on March 23, 2012.

2 Responses to “Feminism Today: Do We Still Need It? (WTFFeminism Pt 3)”

  1. […] already discussed this a bit in the third installment of my WTF Feminism Series, but I’ll say it again here for good measure.  Feminism is not […]

  2. […] Feminism Today: Do We Still Need It (WTFFeminism Pt 3) […]

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