I’ve been big on “girl power” since I was in elementary school, but it wasn’t until my sophomore year of high school that I realized what feminism was, and that it was something I definitely wanted to be a part of.
In the middle of my sophomore year, I read a book that completely changed my perspective. It’s titled Princess: A True Story of Life Behind the Veil in Saudi Arabia, by Jean Sasson. If you haven’t read it, I highly recommend that you do because this novel really is eye-opening and reveals painful truths about the world we live in.
I didn’t know a ton about feminism, but after reading that book it clicked for me. After that, I started doing some research and again, my world opened up again. Gender inequality is a serious problem around the globe and is something that we shouldn’t ignore.
The more I learned about feminism, the more I realized that this was a powerful word that can easily be misused and misunderstood. And the more I grew up, the more I realized why we need feminism.
To clarify, feminism is wanting gender equality for everyone. It is not “hating men,” thinking you’re better than men or whatever people’s excuses are for dismissing the term. It is not just beneficial for females, but for males as well. Also, without intersectionality, you can’t have feminism. Intersectionality is, according to the Oxford Dictionary, “The interconnected nature of social categorizations such as race, class, and gender as they apply to a given individual or group, regarded as creating overlapping and interdependent systems of discrimination or disadvantage.”
I will probably post a blog post soon about why intersectionality is absolutely vital for feminism, but for now I’m just going to go through some reasons of why feminism is important.
- In April 2014, 276 girls were kidnapped by Boko Haram militants from the school they went to in Nigeria. Why they were kidnapped? Because Boko Haram believes that girls shouldn’t go to school, to put it simply. The girls were either forced into marriage or sex slavery. As of now, 219 are still missing.
- According to Girls Not Brides, 15 million girls under the age of 18 are married. That means one girl becomes a child bride every two seconds. Read more about how you can help here.
- 4.5 million people are currently stuck in forced sexual exploitation around the world according to Polaris. 55 percent of human trafficking victims are women, and 26 percent of victims are children.
- American women in combat are more likely to be raped by a comrade than to be killed by an enemy. The rate of women being sexually assaulted in the military hasn’t changed since 2010, according to Protect Our Defenders.
- Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) is still practiced, and affects more than 200 million women and girls today. FGM is the partial or complete removal of external female genitalia for non-medical reasons, usually performed as a “rite of womanhood.” It results in lifelong health issues, such as problems in childbirth, psychological trauma and even death. Equality Now has shown that when female human rights are legally protected and enforced, FGM dramatically declines.
- Brock Turner, got an incredibly light sentence for raping an unconscious woman behind a dumpster. And his parents think he did nothing wrong. Light sentences for rapists are not uncommon. About six out of 1,000 rapists will end up in prison, according to the Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network (RAINN). If you want to get involved with RAINN, click here.
- When I was in high school, I realized I was part of a statistic at the time. One in three adolescents in the U.S. is a victim of verbal, physical, sexual and/or emotional abuse, according to loveisrespect.org. 43 percent of dating college women report experiencing violent and abusive dating behaviors. And this is only in the U.S.
- In a Forbes article from 2016, only 24 percent of senior business roles globally are held by women. 33 percent of firms around the world have no women in senior management.
- The term “boys will be boys” is still being thrown out there way too often. We need to end rape culture, not encourage it.
- Our current president has made many demeaning remarks about women. Don’t believe me? Read them here.
- Women and men are made to feel like that have to live up to this ridiculous body type. According to the National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders (ANAD), at least 30 million of people of all ages and genders suffer from an eating disorder in the U.S. Every 62 minutes, a person dies as a direct result of an eating disorder. This pressure on both men and women to look a certain way needs to stop.
- Discrimination against women begins at conception in countries such as India, South Asia and the Republic of Korea. In India, pre-natal sex selection and infanticide accounted for the pre-natal termination and death of half a million girls per year over the last 20 years, according to Advocates for Youth.
- Safe abortion procedures are hard to come by in many countries around the world. Even here in the U.S., it is still a debate whether abortion should be legal. Keep abortion legal and safe. Just because you’re pro-life, doesn’t mean abortion shouldn’t be safe and legal for the women who want/need one. Everyone should have rights to their own body, and laws shouldn’t prevent that.
I could go on for hours about why I am a feminist and why it’s beneficial for everyone. We need feminism because the problems I listed above (and there’s more) are very real issues happening everyday, around the world and in our country. Feminism and intersectionality are, without a doubt, needed, and if you think otherwise, I would love to talk to you about it (not to fight you, I just like hearing different opinions, but we can fight too if you want).
Rape, Abuse, and Incest National Network (RAINN): (800) 656-4673
National Domestic Violence Hotline: (800) 799-7233