Taking Up Arms: The Feminist Movement

Don’t be too skinny, but don’t be fat. Be assertive, but don’t be a bitch. Make sure to dress cute, but make sure you don’t look like a slut. You might make a man want to rape you.

According to Sky News reporter Stephen Dixon, women who wear short skirts when they go out with their friends are responsible for the sexual assault that occurs. Apparently, the woman provoked that man into raping her for wearing an outfit that makes her feel confident in her body.

People like Dixon are the reason why feminism is a necessity in today’s society. Feminism is no longer just a fight for political rights. It’s a fight for females to gain respect from men, women, and the government.

American feminists have been in a constant struggle with the government since they began the women’s suffrage movement in 1848. Women have had to fight for the right to vote, to be accepted in the workplace, paid maternity leave and for equal pay. While progress has been made with the government, women are still not considered equals.

Since 1923, the National Women’s party, a feminist group, has been trying to push the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) through congress. The ERA would guarantee that women and women are paid equally based on qualifications, not gender.

According to Institute for Women’s Policy Research (IWPR), women earn 80 cents for every dollar earned by men on average, despite being the primary source of income in over 40 percent of homes. Women have earned the right to make as much as men. Feminism is the voice that makes that known to society and lawmakers.

While feminist groups attempt to advance legislation through congress, they also do what they can to make sure women are free to be who they want to be. The phrase “like a girl” has had a negative connotation around it for as long as it’s been used. In a study conducted by Always, a feminine product producer, 72 percent of girls feel as if society as limits that hold them back.

Based on these findings, Always launched an advertising campaign aimed at boosting the confidence of women and young girls. The first commercial aired during the Super Bowl in 2014, meaning entire families were exposed to its message. After seeing the influence and success of the “#LikeAGirl” campaign, Always created a sequel to “#LikeAGirl,” called “Unstoppable.” These campaigns reached over 85 million people. The negativity that once surrounded that phrase has since began to disappear.

During the 2016 presidential election, a video leaked of President Donald Trump saying, “Grab ‘em by the pussy.”

This comment about women sparked an uproar from men and women across the globe. At the Women’s March 2017 in Washington, D.C., around half a million people from all over the world to protest Trump’s election. Feminists of all backgrounds stood against the rape culture Trump promoted in the election. At the rally, feminist and Navajo Nellis Kennedy-Howard held a bright pink sign that reads, “1 in 3 Native women are raped.”

“We don’t want to promote rape culture any further than the problem that we already have,” Kennedy-Howard told Huffington Post, “and this president is not doing a very good job of modeling that type of behavior.”

Similar to the gender pay gap, feminists are taking up the fight for paid family leave, including paid maternity and paternity leave. Only 13 percent of employees in the private sector are able to take paid family leave according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. A hundred years ago, society believed it was a woman’s job to have children. However, 77 percent of private sector business don’t offer paid maternity leave. But if a woman doesn’t want to have children, society judges that decision.

“The gender revolution has been a one-sided effort. We have not pushed hard enough to put men in traditionally female roles—that is where our priority should lie now,” Richard Reeves and Isabel Sawhill wrote in a Brookings Institution report.

Feminism is not about just fighting for women’s rights. It’s about equal rights for all, regardless of gender, skin color, sexuality or religion. While the general feminism population fight for shared interests, there’s intersectionality within feminism.

“There are many, many different kinds of intersectional exclusions ― not just black women, but other women of color,” Kimberlé Crenshaw told the Huffington Post. “Not just people of color, but people with disabilities. Immigrants. LGBTQ people. Indigenous people.”

The feminist movement isn’t going anywhere any time soon. Rather than shrinking, the movement continues to gain momentum. Women who wear short skirts are not provoking men to rape them, but comments like the ones made by Trump and Dixon provoke feminists to take up arms.