Over the last few weeks, the internet has been buzzing about anti-feminism. There’s a tumblr, a hashtag and all sorts of proclamations by women about why they don’t need feminism. And predictably there’s been a massive response from the satirical to the serious, about why in fact we do still need feminism.
When I first read Women Against Feminism, I was so angry I wanted to throw my computer at the wall. When the anger subsided, I just felt sad. I am so proud to be a feminist, and it baffles me that there continues to be so much confusion about what feminism is and why it is important. I’ll be the first to admit that the feminist movement is not without its issues, and there is a lot of work that needs to be done within the movement to address this. But it is still a vital and integral concept that is so pivotal to my life. So in an attempt to reflect and remember why I stand behind this movement, I decided to simplify things, look around and ask why I still needed feminism.
My favorite definition of feminism is by Chimamada Ngozi Adichie:
“Feminist: the person who believes in the social, political and economic equality of the sexes.”
Now, for those that know me, you might think that the only reason why I love this definition is because it’s in a Beyoncé song. While that may be why it came into my life, it nonetheless is a straightforward and important definition of feminism. While in some ways it feels counterintuitive to simplify a concept that is undeniably and necessarily complex, what I love about this definition is that it breaks down feminism into concepts I see on a daily basis.
So why do I still need feminism? I still need feminism because social inequality between the sexes still exists. Sure, it’s better in a lot of ways, but better is not equal. I need feminism until women don’t have to confront or document their catcallers for invading their personal space. Or that a Daily Show segment on sexual harassment describing how to navigate getting home safely from a party, or walking down the street, doesn’t resonate with all of my friends.
I still need feminism because economic equality is a myth. Yes, there’s the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, but economic equality goes beyond the pay gap between men and women. As Justice Sandra Day O’Conner wisely said, “the ability of women to participate equally in the economic and social life of the Nation has been facilitated by their ability to control their reproductive lives.” With this in mind, the recent Hobby Lobby decision by the Supreme Court is a reminder of how far away we are from economic equality. Until women have the same rights as corporations, I still need feminism. This ruling takes away economic freedom from women because now the ability to control one’s fertility and the opportunity to have a paycheck may be mutually exclusive.
I still need feminism because political equality is not yet a reality. Politically the needs of women are being blatantly ignored as access to abortion is being chipped away. At the state level, the number of TRAP (Targeted Regulation of Abortion Providers) laws have doubled since 2000, and states around the country continue to prevent abortion being covered by health insurance. And even when positive legislation like the “Not My Boss’s Business Act,” is introduced, an overwhelming 43 senators vote against protecting women’s health care.
The way I see it, I need feminism more than ever. Because feminism isn’t about dictating what a woman or a man should or should not do. It’s about working to ensure that all individuals have the same social, economic and political opportunities to make the best choices for their lives.