In 2003, nine of every 10 rape victims were female.
About every two minutes, another American is sexually assaulted.*
I am a woman who, because of these statistics, does not have every right that a man does.
If I go out in public and a man makes me angry, he wouldn’t feel compelled to worry about my reaction. If I make a man angry, I have a reason to be afraid. I should worry about his reaction: is this man going to hurt me? Is he going to beat me? Is he going to rape me?
Fifty years ago, the Civil Rights Act of 1964 banned workplace discrimination based on sex. But even though women are legally permitted to do what men do, that is not what really happens.
Not only do women still get paid less than men, they are also treated differently. When women attain positions of authority today, they are often questioned: how will you be able to handle these new responsibilities and take care of your family? When men attain a position of authority, are they typically asked the same question? Fifty years after the Civil Rights Act, women are still perceived as domesticated.
In May of this year, a 22-year-old man named Elliot Rodger went on a killing spree in Isla Vista, Calif. before killing himself and leaving behind a 137-page “manifesto.” Part of that manifesto reads, “Women represent everything that is unfair in this world, and in order to make this world a fair place, women must be eradicated.”
Not all men are like this, true. But after the shooting in May, the hashtag “YesAllWomen” on Twitter started. Because not all men are like this, apparently all women have some story to tell of a man who was like that.
#YesAllWomen allows women all over the world to share their own stories about harassment and discrimination. Within days of the shooting, over a million tweets had been sent. Today, the hashtag is still active. Is it a lot? No. But it is something, and it is good. It allows a woman to realize that hey, not only is this happening to me — it’s happening to everyone, and that’s not okay.
And it is also not okay to bash feminism. A sad but recent “trend” is the not-a-feminist craze, where women try to explain why they do not need feminism. In response to this trend, Amy Poehler said: “I don’t get it. That’s like someone being like, ‘I don’t really believe in cars, but I drive one every day and I love that it gets me places and makes life so much easier and faster and I don’t know what I would do without it.'”
Feminists are the reason women have the right to vote and serve on a jury and college campuses have better safety laws. Feminists also played a significant role in public school integration in Little Rock in 1958. They facilitated the reopening of public schools in Little Rock after Governor Faubus ordered them closed.
Feminists are extreme because they need to be. Feminists are extreme because that’s how they’ve gotten important legislation passed and how they’ve been able to help advance our society.
Because I know good and well that men running without a shirt on still does not attract nearly as much attention as I do when it’s hot and I decide to run outside in my sports bra: we need feminism.
Because when I went to college at a “state school” I was warned I shouldn’t walk around by myself late at night, and if I did, I should stay in well-lit areas and probably also carry pepper spray or a rape whistle.
Because my friend’s mom sent her and her sister to a self-defense class, but she did not find it necessary to also send her son.
Because I know a woman who has not had a single job where she was not sexually harassed.
No, not all men are like this, but YesAllWomen have at least one story.
Feminists are extreme… shouldn’t they be?
*Statistics from the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network. Found at: https://www.rainn.org/statistics