Hi, hi, hi. So, I realize that it’s been five months since my last post, and I’d love to blame Oxford or school or college stuff, but I’ve really just been lazy. Anyways, here’s an article that I wrote for The Rabble-Rouser, a political magazine at my school. Thought I’d share.
Feminism is described as the movement and ideology that is aimed at defining, creating, and defending equal political, economic, and social rights for women. This is, of course, considered to be pretty common knowledge at this point in the movement’s life. Many, particularly those who grew up during the second half of the twentieth century, often associate feminism with the many demonstrations, marches, and even riots that it has had. For those of you who know your stuff, you probably know all about the Equal Rights Amendment and its life, which, by the way, still very much exists. The ERA was first proposed to the United States Constitution in efforts to guarantee equal rights for women. This was all the way back in 1923 (three years after women received the right to vote) with its proponent being one of the biggest names in the history of feminism Alice Paul, who was a suffragist leader and founder of the National Women’s Party. Go Alice! The amendment was not passed in both houses of Congress until March of 1972! It then went to the state legislatures for ratification and eventually failed to receive the necessary number of ratifications before its Congress-mandated deadline, June 30, 1982. Mind you, that was only a little over thirty years ago. Needless to say, the ERA was not adopted.
What is known as Second-Wave Feminism or the Women’s Liberation Movement was, however, very much adopted by the United States, willing or not. The movement took place between the early 1960’s and the early 1980’s. Whereas First-Wave Feminism focused primarily on women’s suffrage and overturning legal gender rights, Second-Wave Feminism expanded the debate to a wide range of issues, which included sexuality, family, the workplace, reproductive rights, de facto inequalities, and official legal inequalities. Essentially, this wave was a bit more about the social stigma than about the legalities. 1966 and 1967 were perhaps the years in which most feminist organization of Second-Wave Feminism sprang up. This was for quite a few reasons, but foremost was the Equal Employment Opportunities Commission’s lack of support for working women. Betty Freidan, the woman behind NOW (National Organization for Women), founded her organization in response, which began petitioning the EEOC as its first operation. One of the primary concerns of women in regards to the EEOC was that of Title VII. Flight attendants, in particular, filed many Title VII complaints about being forced to quit when they were married, became pregnant, or reached the age of 32. In the proceeding years, as Second-Wave Feminism continued, thousands of women joined in on the movement. The feminist movement not only helped to better the lives of American women but more specifically those of African American women and of lesbian women. Whether for the ratification of the ERA, for abortion rights, or for the targeting of the EEOC, popular women’s glamour magazines, or even against the Miss America pagents, these women joined in on thousands of marches, protests, sit-ins, and thought processes that eventually created the many rights that women have today. And thank goodness for that!
Now, this is all just good and dandy. But why isn’t this sort of thing still happening today? There are still so many gender discrimination issues in the world and very much in the United States. Feminism seems to be thought of as a thing of the past, but it is arguably just as needed now as ever! It is now seen as a movement for radical women who hate men when in reality, feminism is a movement for women who want the rights that they damn well deserve. Women are still objectified by advertisements, films, magazines, and by so many other mediums. Despite the fact that there are now more women in the workplace than there are men, gender is still very much a problem, as many working women are sexually harassed, kept from being promoted, and sometimes still receive lower pay. The Equal Rights Amendment has been introduced to Congress every year since 1982, and it has still not been ratified. On an international level, women are constantly being oppressed by their governments, husbands, and fathers. There is still so much to be done for women in this world! And sure, there’s the excuse that the internet has provided for a new medium for protest and for statement and that actual marches and physical protests are no longer necessary. However, many other movements, such as the 2011 March on Wall Street, have taken, quite literally, to the streets. If anything, the Internet should make it drastically easier to establish a movement. I want to know where the Betty Friedans and Gloria Steinems are in today’s world! Of course, there are minor feminism movements that are very much in existence. For instance, there has been a relatively new trend in New York City called Topless Rollerblading. This idea is quite self-explanatory and genuinely encourages women to rollerblade (as outdated as it may seem) around the city bearing all. Now, you’re probably wondering how something like that is legal, as public nudity is banned in so many places. Well, thanks to some awesome feminists back in the day, it is absolutely legal to be topless in the state of New York. Please let me make clear: I am by no means telling you to rip your clothes off in a densely populated city and embrace your sexuality, but I am telling you to speak out for yourselves and for your fellow women!