We’ve come a long way, baby! Degrading as that statement may seem, it is actually very true. We HAVE come a long way, but the only way to know for sure that the struggle was not in vain is to continue on with it. We cannot just rest on the laurels of our foremothers who fought for the big stuff. We have to rise up and continue in their honourable footsteps.
Equal rights are not fully won with just the right for women to vote or equal pay for equal work. Feminism has to evolve into the 21st century and be a force to sustain these rights while winning new battles for women. Many times, in our society, women are treated unfairly in the workplace by other women. This is the most tragic event of all. Whether it be for reasons of contempt towards one another or ladder climbing, maltreatment of women by women is unacceptable.
It is an undeniable fact that, in organizing, petitioning and speaking out to free the slaves, American women learned how to free themselves. -Betty Friedan – The Feminine Mystique
In the early days of women’s rights, the feminist movement moved parallel to, and many times in conjunction with, the civil rights movement. Women were getting out and speaking up for the rights of blacks in America and, in turn, realizing that these rights should also be extended to themselves. With the notion that every human being was and is important, we see the struggle that would befall the most noble of feminists. In the process of helping to free the slaves and secure their civil rights, women saw something that they too wanted. Equal rights.
Feminism was a movement of resilience and militant pride. In recent years, feminism has begun to be looked at as a bad thing. Many factions have been ever increasingly more critical of feminists. Taking the example of two or three militant femi-nazis and making the whole group of feminists seem to be that way. This is yet another way for the establishment to dumb down the concept of equal rights for women. A way to make it seem unnecessary and even, in some instances, dangerous to be a feminist.
Every glamour magazine that sits on a shelf, screaming from its pages to the teenage girls of America, is a factor in this anti-feminism. Every add on television that makes a girl or woman feel less than she is contributes to anti-feminism. Each and every day that a girl or woman is taunted or made to feel inferiour results in the persistence of anti-feminism. Anti-feminism is a force in this country far stronger than the masses would give credit to. The ability to make women feel guilty for not spending every waking moment with their children is a form of anti-feminism.
Society still perceives career women and working mothers as a short phase in life. It is supposed that eventually these women will come around and learn to love staying at home. The assumption in that is that every woman is exactly the same and does not want to reach for a higher goal then marriage and motherhood. That the education of women ends when they become mothers. This is obviously not so, or we would not have so many career women as it were. In so much as it is possible for women to learn as well as men, so is it necessary for women to be afforded the luxury of both children and work. Women should not have to be “tied down” to family, giving up dreams of work success, unless they choose that as their goal. There are women who truly want to be housewives and nothing more and feminism extends them that choice as well.
The central theme is choice. The ability to choose career, family, home. The right to be able to choose whatever, whenever, and however without the consultation of a man. This does not, by any means, lessen the role of man in society. If anything, men are strengthened by feminism as well. They are able to have more openness in relationships because their wives/girlfriends/friends are more content and therefore more honest. Feminism is good for everyone, not just women, and this is the message that needs to be conveyed to the masses. Keep up the fight because no matter how far we have come, there is always road ahead to travel and to stop short would be nothing other than a travesty.