Column: When the public bashes feminism they bash equal rights for all genders

Most anti-feminists don’t realize that the freedoms women have are because of women’s rights activists.

Rachel Schnelle is freshman journalism major at MU. She is an opinion columnist who writes about student life for The Maneater.

Merriam-Webster’s dictionary defines feminism as “the theory of the political, economic and social equality of the sexes.” Women who are against feminists have accused this movement as being unimportant because there’s “nothing left to fight for.” What these women don’t realize is that without feminists, they wouldn’t have the basic rights women have today.

Ever since its beginning in the 1890s, the feminist movement has had many negative connotations attached to it. Claims such as that we are angry, men-hating, bra-burning women. A more recent claim has been the question of why feminism still continues today.

The stereotype that feminists burn bras originated from a demonstration by feminists at the 1968 Miss America pageant. Women burned their bras to display the message “Let’s Judge Ourselves as People.” While feminists began these kind of protests as a way to imprint their message to the people, the public viewed it as a sign of tossing the yoke of male oppression.

For over 200 years, some people have believed that feminists hate men. That belief didn’t become popular until Pat Robertson said, “The feminist agenda is not about equal rights for women. It is about a socialist, anti-family political movement that encourages women to leave their husbands, kill their children practice witchcraft, destroy capitalism, and become lesbians.” Only a small part of feminists hate men, and they do not represent that whole movement. Being a feminist does not mean you think all men are evil. Being a feminist means that you think sexism is evil and that you believe that both men and women should think about how their actions affect others.

Some women often bash the feminist movement, and I don’t think they realize how important both movements have been to society.

Without the early foremothers such as Elizabeth Cady Stanton, we wouldn’t have the right to vote. If it weren’t for the mothers of the pill Margaret Sanger and Katharine McCormick we wouldn’t have access to contraceptives of any form.

The groundbreaking book “The Feminine Mystique” by Betty Friedan helped so many ordinary women examine their lives and social roles and identified what would later be called sexism. It ushered in change for a new wave of women’s activism. Before the book was published, only about six percent of women made up the medical and law field. Since the time when Feminine Mystique was published, ordinary women have been inspired to pursue degrees in the medical and law field. If it weren’t for Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, we wouldn’t have non-discriminatory laws against both genders. While she is well-known for being a Supreme Court judge, she is known for being an equal rights activist (also known as a feminist).

The women who started the first wave of the feminist movement would be so proud of the strides that are happening in today’s world, things that they could only dream about.

The #MeToo movement only began two years ago and has already become a powerful force. For a long time, society left sexual assault and harassment in the dark. The responsibility of the incident was left in the victim's hands. This movement has provided a platform for survivors to share their story and to bring about social change. In the 2018 midterm election, voters elected a record-breaking four women into the Senate and 24 women into the House of Representatives.

Unfortunately, because of the negativity surrounding feminism, only about 20 percent of Americans consider themselves feminists, according to a Huffington Post and You Government survey.

Feminists have fought for the freedoms that people who are against feminists are able to have. If people against feminists really believe they aren’t feminists, then they should look up the facts first.

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