I read an article recently that was celebrating the fact that 29% of teenage girls considered themselves feminists. Actress and feminist advocate, Emma Watson, was noted as being influential in the achievement of this feat. Wow! Are our standards that low? It makes me ache to think that any girl would not consider herself a feminist. There has to be a fundamental misunderstanding as to what it means.
But there's no big mystery about what feminism means, however much your local misogynist would like to think he knows better. It's quite simply the belief that all genders should be equal. That equality entails political, economic and social rights. For those who have grown up with privilege, most notably in our society white men, ceding such privilege has some throwing tantrums and ranting about the "loss" of men's rights - Sigh!
In Sociologist Michael Kimmel's wonderful book, Angry White Men, he dives deep into this male psychology of "aggrieved entitlement". It is at times a bracing read. I'd like to see it as required reading in every high school in the country. Sexism, like all discrimination and hate, is learnt behavior. Kimmel says, and I love repeating this to any man, or woman, who rails at any form of affirmative action, and I'm paraphrasing ;
White men, in the western world, are the single greatest beneficiaries of the single greatest affirmative action program in the history of the world. It's called, The History of the World!
Women are awake and alive to this renewed struggle for equality in the United States as we deal with an unqualified white man, with a long history of sexist (and racist) behavior, occupying the highest office in the land. As we take this battle on, as we march, agitate, and donate we could really do with a larger percentage of our sex being actively engaged and open-eyed to the real threat that we face, and that we endure.
The focus needs to be the achievement of the Equal Rights Amendment to the Constitution. I'm not an American, and although my children are, and my eldest is now in High School, I'm pretty sure the ERA, or the lack thereof, doesn't seem to attract much interest or debate within our education system. It makes me wonder how many of these teenage girls are aware that they are not considered equal to men as far as their Constitution is concerned. The late Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia cynically affirmed,
"Certainly the Constitution does not require discrimination on the basis of sex. The only issue is whether it prohibits it. It doesn't."
Now, I'm pretty certain that if Justice Scalia's comments and the fact that, unlike most other countries in the world, the United States does not have a constitutional equality provision guaranteeing equal rights for women, were the subject of discussion and debate in Social Studies classes around the country's middle and high schools, that 29% number would shift north pretty damn sharpish.
It is always in the interest of an oppressor to keep the oppressed in the dark and have them feel powerless. Don't get me started on that abstinence nonsense taught in schools instead of Sex Education - another post, another day. Mix in the new "Fake News" ingredient and the waters are totally muddied.
The challenge for all of us is to keep the focus on the ultimate objective, which is equality enshrined at the constitutional level. We would not be scrambling today to protect our healthcare and PP if we were constitutionally protected. We would also have the most solid foundation block from which to repel any future legislation that offends that equality and to strike down any existing laws that so offend. If we can enshrine the right to carry a gun at the Constitutional level and spend fortunes defending that right, no matter the utter carnage and loss of life, it is indefensible not to elevate women, the dominate gender in number, to constitutional parity with men. It is long past time and we have been waiting too long for far too long.
Related Post: Why Is It So Difficult To Say - I Am A Feminist?
About the Author
Eimear Zone is an entrepreneur and co-founder of feminist brand and social enterprise, PEBBLE + ROSE. She writes on feminism, entrepreneurship, and mindset management. She can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org and IG @emtczone