By Jodi Lamborn
Look up “What is feminism?” on Google. You’ll probably come across the dictionary definition of the word “feminism” accompanied by the correct pronunciation, a classification, a list of synonyms along with a sentence incorporating the word. Then, you click the “Show More” button and you’ll find the origin of the word- in this case, the word “feminism” comes from the French word “feminisme”. What caught my particular interest when I googled “What is feminism?” was a graph that depicted the percentages of “mentions” of the word over the course of several centuries. “Feminism” hovered the category “hardly ever said” for the majority of a century, from 1800 to 1900, when it then spiked to a wondrous “said every once in a while but only in privately enclosed quarters”, an amazing feat for womankind. Then came the 1960’s, and someone somewhere must have struck a match to light the fire of equality between the sexes, and since then, the blaze has slowly engulfed the world.
So, here I am, writing about something that interests me, and obviously I have chosen a political topic, specifically feminism. See, from my perspective, anyone can look up what feminism means, but the answers one might find do not amount to the actuality of the cause. It takes someone who cares enough to ponder the question, “why feminism?”, and to actually seek answers that will aid their understanding of what it means to support the continual Women’s Rights Movement. Well, if you have searched this question, and somehow you have come across and are now reading this article, here’s my answer:
Let me start out by saying that I am not what one would consider a radical feminist; I am passionate but I don’t waste my breath trying to alter the perspectives of those who can’t be helped. The following article article simply demonstrates my perspective and knowledge of womanhood and the chase for equal rights.
Over the past several months, I have taken it upon myself to look into the unequal yearly salaries between men and women in the same position. The Gender Pay Gap affects women of all ages, races, and educational levels. In 2016, women were paid just eighty percent of what men were, so the question remains: what caused that twenty percent gap? It’s not because women generally take lower-paying jobs, or because more women than men work part time, or even because women have more caregiving responsibilities. The gap is generated gender bias. Sure, the gap has narrowed significantly since the 1970’s, but that is easily explained by the fact that a lot of women were expected to stay in the home and tend to the children and household chores on a daily basis until the 1970’s, when the momentum for the gender equality picked up. However, at the rate the gap has narrowed over the last forty to fifty years, it is not expected to close until 2059. Furthermore, the rate has stalled even more since 2001, and if the digression continues, women won’t reach economic equality until 2119. Having a hundred more years of this would be as if we were receiving our Four Hundredth Demand from Japan and China.
I’ve also looked a lot into sexual abuse; it’s particularly hard to pay attention to what has been going on with the “Me Too” hashtag. The phrase has been posted and reposted millions of times on social media along with personal accounts of sexual assault or harassment. The U.S. Department of Justice’s National Crime Victimization Survey states that on average, 237,868 victims of 12 and older are sexually assaulted or raped each year, and an instance occurs every 107 seconds. 88.6% of rape victims are women; 17.6% of women are victims of rape or attempted rape- that’s approximately 17.7 million women.
There are countless more examples of the victimization and isolation that women endure throughout a lifetime. Many are aware of the statistics, and still they do not understand the reason behind the fight for gender equality; they do not understand feminism. See, from my perspective, it is harder to comprehend how a woman could look in the mirror and not see someone who is equal to a man. It’s an amazing honor to be a woman; we hold so much power. We have the ability to create life and even still, we can do everything that a man can do. There is no reason that we should be made to feel inferior, and the cause is not unnecessary. Women are incredible beings made to do incredible things, and I believe that is “why feminism”.