Why feminism? Because WE ARE NOT THERE YET. Women are paid 77 cents to every dollar a man earns. Few women are CEO’s. Women are still primarily responsible for taking care of their families and homes. Reproductive health isn’t considered a human right. Very young girls are sexually exploited and then arrested for prostitution at age 12. We still haven’t had a female president and men are controlling the dialogue on every issue including women’s issues.
No one should be discriminated against because of their gender. For that reason, feminism unites people to end all oppression along lines of race, class, gender, and sexuality.
There are many different ways to be involved in feminism. I am most involved in feminism through the reproductive rights movement. I got involved with reproductive rights because the idea of not fully being in control of your own body is too scary. Women need to feel safe and reproductive health is the first step.
I consider it to be one of the most critical issues today. Until all women all over the world have control over their own reproductive health they are not truly equal to or free from men. I consider reproductive rights to be a fundamental human right and I will fight for all women to have access to safe, clean, good reproductive health.
Men should not be leading the discussion on reproductive rights. You can only truly understand what you are. I, as a woman, can understand what it means to be a woman, but a man can not understand what it’s like to be a woman. How can you make good decisions about something you do not truly understand?
As Tina Fey illustrated at the Center for Reproductive Rights Gala, “Todd Akin claims that women can’t really get pregnant from a legitimate rape because the body secretes hormones. Now I can’t even finish this sentence without getting dumber; it’s making me dumber when I say it—but it’s something about the body not being able to get pregnant when it’s under physical stress. Mr. Akin, I think you are confusing the phrase ‘legitimate rape’ with the phrase ‘competitive gymnastics.’”
Isn’t it sad that we had people running for the Senate who clearly have no respect for women? It’s even sadder that we still have a huge amount of people who fall into this category. At least we can breathe a little easier knowing that Claire McCaskill demolished Akin in the fight to become one of the Senators of Missouri.
At the Center for Reproductive Rights gala they played a powerful video that spoke to the importance of legalizing abortion in all countries. This is not just a battle for women in this country but a battle that unites all women around the world.
Women will not be equal to men until we have complete control of our reproductive health. You can’t have the job you want, the income you desire, the freedom to have sex, or the ability to be at ease and productive in the world as a woman unless you have complete control over your reproductive health. It’s not just about having control over your body it’s about having control over your life.
As women, we have much more to gain and lose from having sex. Too often, women are left with all the responsibility on their shoulders. The privileged ultimately will always have more access to safe reproductive services, while poor women, who ultimately need it more, will suffer the most. By denying poor women access to reproductive health our society is oppressing and marginalizing them further.
“The shaming that goes on with women in this country is inexcusable,” Cecile Richards once stated when speaking about Sandra Fluke and the ‘legitimate rape’ hoopla. Why is it that women are considered whores but men are given high fives for having sex with multiple people? We should not be penalized for doing the same thing as a man. It is our responsibility to demand that we have these choices. Who is going to do it if we don’t? White men? We have to fight!
Cecile Richards also said, “We have to think [critically] about labels and terminology that limit conversations [around these issues].” We are the next generation, we have to reclaim control of the messaging around reproductive health. What does pro-life really mean? Who isn’t pro-life? Doesn’t pro-life just mean you support life? But what does that have to do with the reality of women’s lives?
As Ruth Bader Ginsberg said, “The emphasis must be not on the right to abortion but on the right to privacy and reproductive control. By controlling the messaging, we can shift women’s rights to human rights and women’s health will then be a priority.” This is the goal, if we can make women’s rights human rights we will live in a better society as a whole. No one deserves to suffer from not being able to be in control of their own body.
So when asked the question “Why do I need feminism?,” I say I need feminism because women all over the world are being denied the basic fundamental right to be in full control of their bodies. Women need to direct their own lives and have access to safe, legal, and affordable reproductive rights. Not having these rights affects not only women but also how society functions as a whole.
“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, its the only thing that ever does.” -Margaret Mead