“People who think that men and women are inherently of equal worth.” This is the definition of feminists according to Nancy Hellner, women’s studies professor at MCC. “Feminism is about equality between men and women. Feminism helps everyone including men, women, and children whereas patriarchy, the opposition to feminism, hurts everyone.”
With the recent nomination of women presidential and vice-presidential candidates and the election of the third woman Supreme Court Justice; many Americans want to claim “mission accomplished” in regards to the feminist movement.
Feminists in this country have fought hard against the norm and the law, but they haven’t won yet.
Progress hasn’t included everyone and women across the globe continue to be marginalized. Women in Iran are still required to sit in the back of the bus, just as Rosa Parks was in 1955.
President Bill Clinton has noticed the pervasive gender gap.
On Sept. 23, Clinton began the second day of the Clinton Global Initiative Annual Meeting by going over some staggering statistic about the inequalities women face.
He stated that worldwide women do 66 percent of the workload, making up 30 percent of the work force, earn 10 percent of the income, and only own one percent of the property.
As long as numbers like these continue to be the norm, the existence of feminism is incredibly important.
American women are becoming global feminists and are stuggling domestically for freedom of choice and equal pay while simultaneously raising awareness for women everywhere.
“Sometimes we get so caught up in our ipods, cell phones, games and all our little electronic devices that we become our own personal islands,” said Lea Laffartha, social work major, and president of Phi Theta Kappa (the national honor society on campus).
“The problem is that people get lost in the shuffle, and when people are discriminated against there’s just no support.”
Laffartha believes that even though feminism is alive, the movement itself has plateaued. She thinks that this flat line pattern is due to lack of involvement. “If you throw a stone in the water it does effect a change. But, they’re not enough people throwing the stones into the pond.”
Her main concern is awareness isn’t being raised through early education, and it’s resulting in perpetuated outmoded stereotypes. Laffartha believes that if, “education started earlier, we wouldn’t need a movement,”
Laffartha theorizes that feminism and its ideals need to be introduced not, at a high school level, or a college level, but they should be introduced in grade school.
Feminism is in danger of becoming synonymous with an irrelevance in mainstream America’s attitude. Laffartha explained that in the 1960s, “women still couldn’t get jobs, birth control, or control over their bodies. But, once those things were gained the other things seemed more subtle.” Even a subtle injustice is unacceptable.
The World Economic Forum (A Swiss non-profit that focuses on the coupling of economic progress with social development) did a report on the global gender gap in 2007. Results reported the U.S., often thought to be the leader in this movement, was ranked number 31 out of 128 countries. The basis for the study was women’s participation in economics, education, politics, and their general health. Countries that surpassed the U.S. include Sweden, Lithuania, Cuba, and Estonia.
The first and most fundamental step in forwarding the feminism is educating people. There too many misguided definitions, and an ample supply of negative connotations surrounding the movement.
The key to equality for all is awareness; those who wish to learn more about these issues may attend MCC’s “Day of Unity” on Oct. 5 at noon, commemorating victims of domestic violence.
Curiosity can also be satisfied at feministing.com, where one may stay up to date on world issues
But, one of the best ways to learn is by doing, and students can simply speak out against inequality.
Contributions by Jacqueline Bernatt