I was proud to march on Saturday with women all over the world. And in the wake of the march both men and women have been quick to dismiss the march and our reasons for marching.
They say the fights of feminism are over (this is something I said once myself). They say making signs and blocking traffic is a pointless display. There are many reasons I marched on Saturday.
The quick list is for LGBTQ rights, women’s rights, rights for people of color, to very publicly tell Kellyanne Conway that we do in fact care about seeing T–mp’s tax returns, to tell Muslim Americans that I think a registry is unconscionable, and to be able to tell my daughter that I didn’t sit at home when the women of this country were filling the streets to show our power, our compassion, and our resolve.
But, let me get further into why we still need feminism.
1. I’ve seen claims in blog and social media posts that American women have more rights than any other country. This, actually, is not true. There are many places in the world where it is much better to be a woman. Out of 41 countries, America is the only one that does not provide paid maternity leave. Our access to quality affordable childcare has become impossible for many families, meaning that mothers are faced with the decision to pay bills or leave their young infants in sub-par childcare facilities. And yes, this does sometimes result in the death of infants.
2. Feminism isn’t entirely about legislation. The truth is that there is still a great deal of inequality in the world. Not all of it can or should be addressed by legislation, some of it just requires awareness and asking ourselves why. Why women still don’t occupy more political positions. Or why women don’t occupy more executive positions. Or why women don’t comprise more of the STEM workforce? We have to be interested in finding answers to these questions.
For example, I have been made aware that one of the reasons there are fewer women in STEM may be a result of the way that female children are treated differently than male children. That’s very interesting to me and on an intuitive level makes sense. As a result, I’ve adjusted the way I parent my 1.5 year old daughter. She has a toy tool bench and building blocks as well as dolls and domestic toys, and we avoid referring to “girls’ toys” or “boys’ toys.”
I’ve also read that people are less likely to say “no” to young girls than they are to boys, making them less likely to tolerate hearing “no” and pushing past rejection or resistance later in life. As a result, I’ve adjusted the way I parent. When she opens her green eyes wide and uses an extra sweet voice to try and get me to say “yes”, when I’ve already said “no” I stand firm. I don’t want her to rely on emotional manipulation as a tool for advancement and if I reward it, I am setting her up to do that. She is strong, kind, and smart, she doesn’t need any of that.
3. Sexism in the workplace is far from dead. How can we say that we are equal if I say the exact same thing (we’re talking verbatim sometimes) as a man in a meeting, yet it’s dismissed coming from me and praised coming from him?
The only explanation is sexism and I know I’m not the only woman to experience this. So many women have male coworkers and bosses comment about their bodies and dismiss their ideas and ask them if they are on their period. This can’t help but have very tangible affects on our ability to earn and progress in our professions.
4. With Congress currently in the process of dismantling the ACA there is a good possibility that according to insurance companies being a woman will go back to being a “pre-existing condition.” I am not broken or sick just because I am a woman, and we should all be offended not just by the concept, but by the very real consequences it has to our access to affordable healthcare.
5. White, affluent or middle class men still get a pass for sexual assault in America. David Becker, Brock Turner, Donald Tr–p, John P. Enochs, Austin James Wilkerson, and the list goes on. Until they are truly held accountable in the eyes of the law and the public, we do not have equality.
Have we made progress in the past century since women won the right to vote? Absolutely. But social progress is slow.
It took a full century after the abolition of slavery for people of color to get enough support to end segregation, and we’ve yet to see the end of systemic and institutional racism in America. Our work is not done and we shouldn’t rest just because the easy to spot injustices were handled before our time.
I’m not settling for “good enough.” I have a daughter.