Inspiring Lives Magazine Spring 2017: Issue 4 - Page 14

“Feminism is raw and powerful. It’s strong and uplifting.” of us—yes, I am a feminist—advocate for women's rights. For the rights of every gender identity on the spectrum. We know that all humans should be treat- ed equally. Equality means choice, not restriction. It means respect. And just to be clear: if someone thinks it’s ok to touch you without your permission, pay you less, make you feel dirty or less than, insist that something is your job, deny you proper care for your mental or physical health, ignore your ideas, ignore your desires, make laws about what you can do with your body, drug you, ask you personal questions, or otherwise make you feel uncomfortable because you were born a woman, then this is not respect, not equality. Not by a long shot. Feminism is something we shouldn’t have to dis- cuss, especially in 2017. It’s something I shouldn’t have to explain to men, to women, to my daughters. It’s something we shouldn’t need, but we do. It’s something I shouldn’t have to defend. Feminism is raw and powerful. It’s strong and uplifting. It’s a bond we share when we see another mother crying because she has to drop off her three-month-old at daycare 1 http://www.cawp.rutgers.edu/current-numbers http://www.npr.org/2016/10/06/495839588/countries-around- the-world-beat-the-u-s-on-paid-parental-leave This article stipulates that the maternity leave isn’t a handout. It’s typically a system that workers pay into, and then new mothers can draw from it during their leave from work. This can help bridge the gap in pay, especially for women who suffer from complications or take longer to recover from childbirth than is considered standard. 2 14 INSPIRING LIVES SPRING 2017 and return to work depressed and bleary-eyed because she needs the money. It’s a bond we share when one of our own wins a Nobel Prize. We need feminism because my grandmothers were an English teacher and a stay-at-home mom. Because maybe they wanted to be CEOs or dentists or archi- tects or business owners. Or journalists or firefighters. Because maybe it never occurred to them to want that. Because they didn’t always have a choice. Because families sometimes saved for their sons to go to col- lege, but not their daughters. Because their generation told my mother’s generation that women only go to college to get their M.R.S.—to find a husband. Be- cause they were told that their place was in the kitch- en. Because they lived in a time when they had to wait for their prince to come. Because they couldn’t go out and live their dreams. We need feminism because in our most recent elec- tion, some women didn’t vote for the female candidate because she is female. Because they don’t think that a woman can run the country. In 2017. And that should scare you, shock you, disappoint you, no matter your political affiliation. We need feminism because women only hold 19.4% of seats in Congress and 21% of seats in the Senate. 1 Because 1 in 5 is not equal representation. In the United States. In 2017. Because depending on the year and the surveying group, the statistics are the same for women who have been raped at some point in their lives: 1 in 5. And those numbers are higher with some ethnic groups. And that doesn’t count non-rape sexual violence. Or the victims who didn’t report it because they were ashamed. Because they thought it was their fault. In 21st-century America. We need feminism because women return to work as soon as six weeks after giving birth. In the United States. In 2017. Because we miss out on bonding time with our babies. Because we need the money. With spit up on our shirts and bags under our eyes. Because we haven’t had six straight hours of sleep in months. Or we have to quit our jobs because childcare is too expensive. And we miss out on all or part of our ca- reers. Because in America, too many have to choose. And this isn’t what I call “choice.” Because out of 193 countries in the United Nations, the United States and a few small countries are the only ones that don’t have a national law for paid maternity leave. Because