El Estoque

When did equality become so radical?

Cynthia Mao

When we were deciding the special report topic for this issue, we initially shied away from calling it feminism. Concerns were raised that the word would alienate a large part of the student body — but isn’t that the problem?

If we can’t talk about feminism without fear of negative connotations, isn’t that the clearest indication that we still need it?

The feminist movement is what got women the right to vote, the right to wear pants, and the right to have jobs outside the home. Yet, our September survey revealed that, to many students, feminism simply isn’t relevant anymore. We forget the historical significance of the movement because the disparity between men and women is not as evident as it was 50 years ago. But that doesn’t the disparity isn’t there.

Women are still earning only 77 cents to a man’s dollar, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. And if that seems like a negligent amount, consider that it adds up to approximately $11,000 a year. Even more importantly, consider what it says about our attitudes towards women: that their work isn’t worth equal pay. As Lilly Ledbetter, the woman whose lawsuit against the company Goodyear for equal pay has led efforts against pay bias, said at the Democratic National Convention earlier this month:

“When we lose 23 cents every hour, every day, every paycheck, every job, over our entire lives, what we lose can’t just be measured in dollars.”

We’re still fighting to combat the view of men like Missouri representative Todd Akin, who said that women’s bodies could prevent pregnancy in cases of “legitimate” rape. We’re still struggling to deal with a lack of women’s representation in Washington, especially when issues like abortion and insurance coverage of birth control pills are up for debate. A roomful of old, white men trying to legislate women’s reproductive rights with little to no say from actual women?

That’s just one of the reasons why we still need feminism.

Perhaps just because of its name, feminism is often misunderstood as support of women and women only. It’s lost support among bot the female and male populations at MvHS. But at its roots, feminism is really just about equality: boosting women and men, whenever either of them gets the short end of the stick.

It can be an intimidatingly complex issue, one that covers everything from rape culture — blaming victims for their rapes — to slut-shaming to our continued acceptance of celebrities like Chris Brown, but that can’t mean it’s an issue to back away from.

If you believe that men and women are of equal intellectual capacity, you’re a feminist. If you believe in dignity for men and women, you’re a feminist. If you believe that being pro-women is not the same thing as being anti-men, then you’re a feminist. And you have to fight against the unfounded backlash you’ll receive for that.

As Ellen Page said, “You know you’re working in a patriarchal society when the word ‘feminism’ has a weird connotation.”

Feminism isn’t a women’s issue, and tat’s a misconception that needs to be corrected. Equality is gender neutral. This is the 21st century, and it’s time for men and women to finally stand on equal ground.