Here is an excerpt from our newest Women Like Us Book, WOMEN LIKE US. TOGETHER...CHANGING THE WORLD. Click on the title to learn more and purchase the book.
Is Feminism Dead?
I consider myself a feminist. I’m for women’s rights, women’s development, women’s advancement in the workplace, and the equality of women! And I think we’re still fighting for it.
When I was in college 30 years ago there was lots of talk about feminism. There were the bra-burning days, the demonstrations to get us out of the kitchen and into the workforce, the fight for equal pay, the development of birth control pills, and even the idea of “free” sex.
So where is feminism today? I was reminded recently that women still earn about 75 percent of men’s pay, according to the Women’s Funding Alliance. I occasionally catch a conversation with some seemingly enlightened male friends who are impressed when a man raises his children on his own. Yet, rarely does the conversation include the same sense of awe when referring to a woman who has raised children on her own.
I think somewhere along the way we stopped being militant. And, I think that’s a good thing. Militancy can be destructive. But, I also think we can’t forget the cause.
Younger women, those in their 20s and 30s, have always known a world with the acceptance of feminist ideas in it. Their mothers, women like me, perhaps like you, brought the tenets of feminism to them as part of their core values and upbringing. And then there are the young men—young men like my son, who would never believe that any woman should wash his clothes, cook his meals or cater to him. His natural tendencies are for an equal partnership and a relationship of equality and mutual respect with all women.
Many of us have raised our sons with these same core values and they are out in society contributing to a more equal and just world for both sexes. But it seems like we’ve stopped.
I know it can be argued that the statistics reflecting differences in pay between men and women are still skewed. No one knows exactly what the real difference in pay is, and some argue there is none. But, if indeed we are enlightened and have moved forward enough that this is not an issue, why did the case of Lilly Ledbetter vs. Goodyear Tire and Rubber Company recently appear before the Supreme Court? It was yet another cry for equal pay for women. It is evident that many women still don’t earn an equal wage.
This topic of feminism goes so far beyond the issue of a paycheck. In the majority of homes of working couples, the female is still mainly responsible for childcare and domestic chores. Issues such as paternity leaves are still odd concepts on many corporate fronts. Old assumptions of female responsibility still remain.
Yes, we’ve made some strides. We have some laws to protect us. But, many of the same issues of thirty years ago are still out there in the workplace, at home and in our relationships.
You can accept the discrepancies you see, or you can speak out against them. We owe it to our sisters, our daughters, and our daughters’ daughters, our sons and the men in our lives, to continue the journey. We need to continue the education, the awareness, the values that bring the important contributions of our femaleness into the awareness and appreciation of our society.
And then we got comfortable. Little girls whose mothers fought for equality grew up and slid more easily into understanding the choices they could have in their lives. Little girls whose mothers came to understand their own rights in the world, were given those rights as if they were always there. Little girls of that time period, now as adult women, never question their own rights to have a credit card, have their own checking account, sit at a bar and order a cocktail, run their own companies, make their own living and stand up and speak out for their own needs.
And the women’s movement helped us realize that if it doesn’t work…we have the right to fix it. We don’t have to stay in abusive marriages. We don’t have to pick motherhood over a career. We don’t have to work all day and clean up, fix up, take care of the family and the home when we aren’t at the office. Not everyone’s happiness is on our shoulders.
Our expectations in our relationships are changing. We expect partnerships in our marriages. We expect to have choices in careers, lovers and how we spend our time. It’s our own time. We don’t need to put ourselves last any more. We put ourselves right up front and in turn, teach our daughters and our sons and the universe that human rights include women’s rights.
Where Women Were Before the Early 1970s:
Women couldn’t get birth control if they were unmarried until 1972.
Women couldn’t serve on a jury until 1973.
Women couldn’t get an abortion until 1973.
Women couldn’t get credit cards in their name until 1973.
Women couldn’t sue for sexual harassment until 1977.
Women couldn’t keep their job while pregnant until 1987.
Women couldn’t refuse to have sex with their spouse until 1993.
Women couldn’t pay a man’s rate for insurance until 2010.
Women still aren’t paid the same as their male counterparts
A woman ran for President of the United States for the first time in history. 2016