By: Megan Graves, Columnist
Every now and then, I hear people say things like, “I don’t need feminism,” or “feminism isn’t necessary.” It always takes me aback to hear these things, especially when they’re coming from women.
The fact is we all need feminism. It’s done some pretty great things just for us in the United States alone. In case you don’t believe me here’s a list of just three of the fabulous things feminism has fought for.
Number one: a woman’s right to vote. Some people don’t realize that American women were given this right less than one hundred years ago, and trust me, it wasn’t just “given” to us. Alice Paul, one of our founding feminists, forced herself to endure a hunger strike while she was imprisoned for advocating for women’s suffrage. She was force fed, and I’ll let you guys imagine how brutal that must have been.
Of course, she wasn’t the only one. Women were thrown in jail simply for picketing for the right to vote. These strong suffragettes did all women a pretty big solid, to say the least.
Number two: feminists played a large roll in the Civil Rights movement. The intersection between gender and race is undeniable, and it shined brightly during the 1960s. White women were fed up with being limited to factory work and housework, black women were fed up with being limited to primarily housework, and black men were fed up with being placed in worse working conditions than their white male counterparts.
Everyone was fed up with being paid substantially less than white men. Obviously, Civil Rights is about far more than just equal pay. There was rampant inequality and discrimination all over the U.S. There still is. But the tremendous inequality in the workforce caused white feminists and black feminists alike to work together for each other’s equality.
Number three: feminism will always fight for your right to be an individual comfortable in your own skin. There’s a reason women’s studies and gender studies are often combined, or at least intersected. Feminists hate gender stereotypes. We argue that a person should never be burdened with societal stigmas that they will never feel comfortable fitting into. You can be whoever you want to be, and feminism will always back you up.
It will help you love yourself. Because of feminism, we have movements like Dove’s campaign for Real Beauty and the new British lingerie line, New Moon, that doesn’t airbrush their models. They use models of all shapes and sizes and races, and they perpetuate the idea that cellulite, stretch marks, and tummy rolls are all normal and beautiful.
Feminism understands how harmful it is for a singular women’s body type to be constantly shown as the only desirable body type in the media. While ads sell us insecurity, feminism wants to sell us self-love and acceptance.
Of course, feminism has done so much more for women, not just in America, but also all over the world. Maybe you personally don’t need the concept that men and women should be equal because you already feel equal to the men in your life. Maybe you’ve never been discriminated against. If that’s the case, I’m happy for you. That’s the whole goal of feminism.
However, keep in mind that when you say you don’t need feminism, you’re denying the fact that there are women who do. You’re denying what feminism has done for all women, and what feminism is still fighting for.
Instead of focusing on your personal, individual experience, look at things from a global level. Women are still being oppressed. Gender stereotypes still exist. Don’t give up on the movement because it already got you where you needed to be, help feminism get others to that same place. Help us create widespread equality.