10 Reasons Feminism Saved Women
It’s easy for many girls in this generation to take the freedom they enjoy on a daily basis for granted. I mean seriously, how many of us ever had to worry about being laughed at for wanting to work? Or for wanting to become scientists, scholars, doctors? Or simply for wanting to wear jeans? But there were times (not so long ago) where a teen girl wearing jeans to high school meant she would be sent home for improper conduct. So let’s take this opportunity to thank the Feminists who worked and fought hard for all of us by looking at how feminism saved women (young and old)!
1. Rosa Parks (enough said!): the first lady of the civil rights movement. Even though this may not be a true feminist (geared towards women alone) goal, the fact is she enabled black women to stand up and take action in a male dominated society (along with starting the Civil Rights movement).
2. Sexual harassment (Anita Hill): as direct results of Anita Hill’s courageous testimony in 1991, women around the nation realized that sexual harassment is not something which they have to be ashamed of or accept quietly as if deserved. Shortly after the hearings (Hill vs. Thomas), President George H. W. Bush (who until then was opposed to) favored the bill giving harassment victims the right to seek federal damage compensation and the bill was passed into law by Congress. This law resulted in many improvements to the workplace, including private companies providing training to employees to end sexual harassment. This famous case also made women realize that more women were needed in the political scene and directly contributed to the increase in women elected to Congress the following year.
3. White House Council on Women and Girls: Ensuring that each action of the government also includes thought of how policies affect women and girls in the USA, the White House Council on Women and Girls was signed into effect shortly after President Barack Obama came to office. This is important representation for all women in the US since our government (as with the majority of other governing bodies in the world) believe it or not, is still a male dominated field.
4. Roe v. Wade (aka yes to abortion): Back in the day (as recently as just 1970) many states did not allow for abortion, in fact, criminalized it. But thanks to Jane Roe (Norma L. McCorvey), the Supreme Court deemed abortion a fundamental right under the United States Constitution. It was decided that the “right of privacy” as dictated under the Ninth Amendment was broad enough to allow a woman to decide whether or not to terminate her pregnancy.
5. Title IX: a law passed in 1972 that requires equality for both sexes in every educational program that receives federal funding. The covered areas include: access to higher education, career education, education for pregnant and parenting students, employment, learning environment, math and science, sexual harassment, standardized testing and technology along with athletics programs. Yes girls, this one is for your college educations and experiences! Fact is it ensured equal access to higher education to all women across the US.
6. The SlutWalk: and those preceding it showed that date rape is a woman’s fault. A sexy dress is not an invitation! The feminist movement helped to remove the stigma women were facing from causal/date rape and empowered women to stand up and promote self-worth.
7. Working women: hello!! The fact that a woman is writing this piece says a lot about the achievements of the feminist movement!! It allowed women to come out of the household (should they choose), to educate themselves, to get jobs and to be financially independent!
8. The modern day housewife: unlike in the past where the woman was the housewife because she didn’t have the higher education, was unable to earn the salary needed to support her family, today many women are able to make a decision which goes something along the lines of “I want to stay home because…” instead of “I have to stay home because I don’t have a choice”.
9. Wearing jeans: on a personal note, my high school French teacher from my little hometown was a sophomore in the same school back in the late 1960s. In those days, boys walked on one side of the hallway, and girls on the other (yeah, those days). When her father visited the big city (aka New York City), he brought her a pair of jeans which she decided to wear to school one bright winter morning. During the morning attendance check, her teacher sent her to the principal’s office where her parents were called in, counseled for about a half hour at the conclusion of which, she was sent home with her parents to put on her ankle length skirt so that she could be “permitted’ back to school with only one day’s worth of detention. I don’t think I need to go into further detail as to why this is even worth mentioning.
10. Finally, as Hillary Clinton so adequately put it, “Women’s rights are human rights”. We are humans and as with any other issue, equality should be seen across the human race!
So girls, when you wake up and put on your favorite pair of shorts and the midriff baring shirt, or decided to study theoretical physics and become the next Stephen Hawking, just remember all those women behind you who have supported your dreams as their own. While we may take these things for granted, had it not been for their efforts, we would not be enjoying ourselves the way we are today.
Namrata Kuppa | News Cult