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What it means to be a feminist in 2020 | The Triangle

What it means to be a feminist in 2020

With the recent conversations in the media and circulating accusations against multiple prominent political leaders of the United States for rape and sexual assault, it only seemed fair to provide readers with further clarity as to why feminism is necessary — for everyone.

Feminism is not just a women’s movement that aims to gain superiority over men. Contrary to what the biased media outlets in this country may depict, feminism is simply the belief in equality for all people regardless of gender. It works toward eliminating toxic masculinity, eradicating disparities in health care and education and empowering women who have been oppressed.

It is perhaps one of the biggest miscommunications between the media and the ignorant population of American people that feminism today exists solely for the benefit of women. Feminism is not a man-hating group of women, or women who feel as though they deserve more than their male counterparts. Though the movement was originally created to ensure basic human rights for women, feminism today is a social movement and belief focused on changing society for the better.

This is an attempt to guarantee equal opportunities and equity for both men and women, which do not exist right now. The wage gap is real. Women in America make on average $0.80 to a white, non-Hispanic man’s dollar. The exact numbers are often lower for minority women. We need to start having these difficult conversations, at the office, at the dinner table and on the street. It is time to start bringing attention to disparities rather than ignoring them as we have in the past. Talking about salaries is not taboo, or at least should not be perceived as so. In fact, it might even help a woman who is underpaid get what she deserves.

The feminist movement works tirelessly to eradicate the harsh stereotypes and prejudices that have burdened our country’s unfair family and social dynamics for people since the origin of this nation as a country. In doing so, feminists today strive to change the gender norms while also promoting healthy behaviors, perspectives, and attitudes for all people… not just for women and girls.

Sexual assault and rape are among the major concerns of this “second wave of feminism” in history. It is crucial to understand that these topics and those similar are not just women’s issues, they are everyone’s issues. Rape and sexual assault are most often committed against women, by men. Approximately 90 percent of perpetrators of sexual violence against women are men. When the statistics are combined, men perpetrate 78 percent of all reported sexual assaults, according to the National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey.

There are multiple groups involved in such acts of senseless violence and dominance. Domestic abuse, sexual assault, sexual harassment and rape occur at extremely high rates in America. Why is it that? Why do so many women have a story to tell — a story about the time they were followed, catcalled, harassed, touched, raped, scared or even just made to feel uncomfortable by a man? As much research as I have done and as many people who I have spoken to about their experiences and feelings, I am still unable to comprehend how individuals will deny the need for feminism both in this country and in others around the world.

The issue is deep-rooted in how society expects and encourages men to act. Men have been groomed to think they are entitled and have a right to a woman’s body, hence the reason the people making important political decisions regarding the reproductive rights of women are also men. Women have been denied autonomy over their own organs. For centuries, women have been expected to limit their voices, kneecap their sentences and be apologetic. Things are changing now — women are no longer afraid, we are no longer silenced.

The recent news and suspected presence of a child sex trafficking ring existing among the wealthiest businesspeople and politicians in both the United States and other countries is appalling and terrifying to hear, especially as a young woman.

It is both wrong and unethical for the media to refer to these child victims as “underage prostitutes”; there is no such thing. An underage child cannot consent to sex. That is rape. Non-consensual sex also does not exist. That is rape. Journalists and news sources need to do a better job in highlighting and exploiting these individuals who are accused of rape rather than diminishing the victims involved. Dress codes and societal expectations for women have led to large scale victimization. It needs to be eliminated. Instead of teaching women how to dress and how to protect themselves, we should try teaching men not to rape.

It is even more sickening that the president of this country has been accused of numerous accounts of sexual assault and rape, in addition to his continued use of degrading comments and misogynistic attitude towards women. The fact that the leader of this nation can speak so carelessly and disgustingly about women fills my chest with an overwhelming, suffocating anxiety and has instilled a fear in me that I never before knew was possible.

This is my reality — but is also the reality of most women in this country. Despite making monumental strides towards equality and gaining an increased number of positions in the government and male-dominated fields, we are habitually objectified by men, especially those in power. It is ingrained in the foundational structure of this country and its leaders, it is made obvious in policies and is undoubtedly executed on an individual and group basis.

The denial and dismissal of these accusations in both political parties without proper investigation are even more frightening than their suspected existence, because if these are in fact true than the government and those powerful individuals dominating our society have successfully halted the progress of those brave survivors of sexual and gender violence.

College campuses across America, including Drexel University, continue to cultivate an environment that ignores the presence of and refuses to enact change in the policies regarding sexual and gender violence. I walk home at night on Market St. with my keys pointed outward and a pepper spray attachment dangling from them.

We, as women on this campus and as women in this country, cannot walk to Wawa or 7-11 or even to our own homes alone either during the day or at night without hearing a vulgar comment about our appearances or bodies. We are often specifically targeted and bothered by the homeless people for money outside of convenience stores because we are viewed as clueless or timid, weak.

I am tired of being classified as something I am not. Women are different in all aspects of life, just as men are. There are no “standards” we should be required to meet. Masculinity and femininity are social constructs we created, they do not and should not exist.

I will not say sorry anymore. A woman should never apologize for speaking her mind, regardless of what society tells her.