Fear of feminism hinders women’s rights

By Esther E. Steeves

How many of you women out there consider yourselves to be feminists?

A feminist, in case there is any confusion, is an advocate of women’s rights–and a species that appears to be leaning slowly towards endangerment. Sure there are lots of women who consider themselves feminists but in reality, there are not many left who truly fight for equality with men. Many self-proclaimed feminists actually hinder the progression of women by giggling when men make references to "a woman’s place," squealing at the sight of bugs, or taking on the role of a damsel in distress at every possible opportunity. Whatever happened to the strong, independent, bra-less feminist of the ’70s? If she were here today, I have a feeling she’d be sorely disappointed in we "feminists" of the 21st century.

It’s been 30 years since the last women’s movement began (the first really major one) back when our moms were in college, and so much has been accomplished for women since then that most of us don’t even realize women still haven’t reached equality with men.

For example, consider the results of a recent study of over 12,000 females, conducted by the ce of Educational Research and Improvement in Washington D.C., in which women were tracked from the time they graduated high school until they turned 32. Although women received higher grades, were awarded more scholarships and completed their BAs faster, they subsequently received lower pay than their male counterparts, were awarded fewer promotions and were more frequently unemployed. Women who had taken two or more math courses in college were the sole exception to this pattern. How many of you arts students have plans to take two math courses before you graduate?

Earlier this year, our own prime minister suggested that a CBC reporter should "get pregnant to take advantage of expanded maternity benefits" because she was a "nice girl." Also, earlier this year at the United Nations Women 2000 Conference, women from all over the world met to discuss how far women have come, as well as how far we still have to go. Women everywhere are living in oppression, and in countries where men have legal dominance over females. Also, where women are prevented from becoming educated, suicide rates soar. Violence against women is a major problem in every country, including Canada, and the world’s population has been reduced by millions because of infanticide and the murder of women whose family cannot afford a dowry.

This is not a world in which women have achieved equal status with men, and now it’s up to us to go get it.

But what can we do? To start, get offended. Who cares if men don’t understand why you won’t laugh at their sexist attempts at humor? It’s degrading, and if you don’t stand up for your right to be respected as a woman who will? I think it’s time to start another women’s movement, that is, unless you like the idea of taking math, earning lower wages than men, or becoming a housewife. If you consider yourself a feminist, advocate women’s rights. Let’s make our mothers proud.