Yes, feminism is still necessary

Are you having a good day?

Are you smiling, happy, or content?

Are you fed-up with feeling this good and need a good old-fashioned headache?

You can eliminate your good feelz by taking the plunge into the Women Against Feminism Tumblr. There, you’ll find stories of women who don’t need feminism because they think feminists are man-hating ideologues, god created men and women separately, the gender wage gap doesn’t exist, and much, much more utter tripe. It’s sad and frustrating to read the entries, bc it’s clear these women have a fundamental misunderstanding of feminism. They haven’t taken the time to learn about feminism, and rely upon a distorted caricature of what feminists fight for. Feminism isn’t about disparaging men, playing the victim, or rationalizing the choice of women to be sexual beings. If they took the time to research feminism (or talk to actual feminists), they’d quickly learn they’ve been criticizing a strawman:

Feminism is a range of movements and ideologies that share a common goal: to define, establish, and achieve equal political, economic, cultural, personal, and social rights for women.

Contrary to the bleatings of anti-feminist women and MRAs, women across the world still need feminism. Whether its pay inequality, domestic violence, sexual harassment, or rape, women and girls continue to experience staggering amounts of discrimination, oppression, and bigotry based on their gender. Here are five examples demonstrating why feminism is still necessary (Trigger Warning: sexual assault, rape):

Jennicet Gutierrez Is An Activist, Not A “Heckler” — So Why Did A Group Of LGBT Leaders Boo Her?

Jennicet Gutierrez

On June 24th, an LGBT Pride celebration occurred in a prestigious place-the White House. During the event, Jennicet Gutierrez-an undocumented Latina trans woman who was invited to the event- interrupted President Obama shortly after he began speaking. From the back of the room, she called on the president to release all LGBT people from detention and to cease deportations:

On Wednesday, a transgender Latina undocumented immigrant named Jennicet Gutiérrez interrupted President Obama during a reception commemorating Pride Month to call for an end to the deportations of LGBTQ undocumented immigrants. At the reception, Obama was delivering a speech to congratulate a group of LGBTQ leaders from around the country on the progress they have made when Gutiérrez spoke up, asking Obama to release LGBTQ immigrants from detention and to stop all deportations.

But unlike past heckling “incidents” — like the time in November 2013when Obama told several immigration reform activists that they could stay after they challenged him at an event — Obama mocked Gutiérrez, telling her that “this is my house” and asking Secret Service to escort her out of the room. And shockingly, the room full of LGBTQ leaders sided not with the LGBTQ activist who was trying to raise awareness for a serious issue, but with Obama, who went on to say, “Shame on you, you shouldn’t be doing this.”

She spoke up shortly after the president began his speech about the threat of violence faced by trans women of color. But instead of allowing her to talk, and thus acknowledging the legitimacy of her complaints, he mocked her and threatened to kick her out. Adding insult to injury, the crowd of people expressed their disdain for Ms. Gutierrez rather than supporting her.

Here’s the video:

Writing in the Washington Blade, Gutierrez spoke of her “heckling” of the president:

Immigrant trans women are 12 times more likely to face discrimination because of our gender identity. If we add our immigration status to the equation, the discrimination increases. Transgender immigrants make up one out of every 500 people in detention, but we account for one out of five confirmed sexual abuse cases in ICE custody. The violence my trans sisters face in detention centers is one of torture and abuse. The torture and abuse come from ICE officials and other detainees in these detention centers. I have spoken with my trans immigrant sisters who were recently released from detention centers. With a lot of emotional pain and heavy tears in their eyes, they opened up about the horrendous treatment they all experienced. Often seeking asylum to escape threats of violence because of their gender identity and sexuality, this is how they’re greeted in this country. At times misgendered, exposed to assault, and put in detention centers with men. Last night I spoke out to demand respect and acknowledgement of our gender expression and the release of the estimated 75 transgender immigrants in detention right now. There is no pride in how LGBTQ immigrants are treated in this country and there can be no celebration with an administration that has the ability to keep us detained and in danger or release us to freedom. It is heartbreaking to see how raising these issues were received by the president and by those in attendance. In the tradition of how Pride started, I interrupted his speech because it is time for our issues and struggles to be heard. I stood for what is right. Instead of silencing our voices, President Obama can also stand and do the right thing for our immigrant LGBTQ community.

This could have been the perfect time to acknowledge the unique problem of violence against trans women in detention centers, which is a problem that gets little coverage. Instead, the president shot down Ms. Gutierrez, which served to undermine his stated opposition to violence against trans women of color.

While Ms. Gutierrez works to address violence against trans women of color in detention centers, 8,000 miles away, women face a similar, yet different threat: sexualized violence.

* * * *

South African female miners break ground for their gender

Generic image of a female miner.

Deep underground, where huge conveyer belts haul rocks to the surface, 33-year-old mother of two Bernice Motsieloa represents the quiet revolution transforming the macho culture of South African mining.

Motsieloa is a shift supervisor at Anglo American’s Bathopele platinum mine — one of several thousand female miners employed in a difficult and often dangerous environment traditionally dominated by men.

Despite an apartheid-era ban on women working underground only being lifted in 1996, 15 percent of all employees in the mining sector are now female, exceeding the government’s own target of 10 percent.

In a culture with true gender equality, no occupation should be closed off to anyone due to their gender. While it took far too long to eliminate the ban on women working underground, the end of that ban resulted in the elimination of one more barrier to the ability of women to participate in society to the extent they choose. Regrettably, some men have taken this opportunity to push back against women.

But reports of sexual harassment are common, and some retired miners say female miners face pressure to offer sexual favours to their male colleagues.

Of course they do. Because to some men, a woman’s worth is wrapped up in her appearance and sexuality. For them, if a woman enters a traditionally male occupation, she isn’t a co-worker. She’s an object. A thing to be lusted after. Something to get their dicks hard. Heaven forbid they accord women the same respect they grant one another.

Motsieloa said she has never suffered physical violence since first going down the pits in 2002 doing manual labour in a gold mine, though she vividly recalls the verbal abuse she endured.

“It was hard. We were openly called names by our male colleagues who told us ‘this is not your place’,” she told AFP.

It is not uncommon for women to experience harassment upon entering male-dominated fields. And it really sucks, because those women are simply trying to make some money for themselves and their families by working. The same reasons the men are there. But then, those sexist men don’t view women as equals-hence the continued need for feminists to push for an end to workplace sexual harassment. Hopefully along the way men will wake the hell up and realize that sexual harassment is demeaning and degrading.

“At first it was not easy, I wanted to quit. We had to put up with men who were not used to working with women.”

A few kilometres from the Bathopele mine, a female worker was raped and killed underground in another Anglo American Platinum mine in 2012. A blood-stained stone was left next to her body.

Three months ago, another female worker was raped in the changing rooms at a different mine also owned by the firm, but escaped with her life.

“I was shocked and did not trust this environment anymore… Working alone, what if this happens?” said Motsieloa, who is always in radio contact with the control room at surface level.

“It really had an effect on me. I was thinking, ‘what if someone just shows up?'”

Even if sexual assault and rape were the only forms of gender inequality that women experienced, there would still be a need for feminism, bc sexualized violence against women is a gargantuan problem around the globe.

– Tough workplace –

Whatever the challenges, Motsieloa exudes authority as leader of her mainly-male team of 22 workers, and she dismisses any suggestion she might consider a change in profession.

“For me, mining was not my first choice, but I ended up doing it,” she said. “Now I love it. For me, being underground is like being in an office.”

It is an unusual place to earn a living — in a pit as deep as 350 metres (1,150 feet), surrounded by heavy machinery and tunnels marked with danger signs.

Lighting is minimal, with lamps mounted on hard-hats illuminating the path ahead and ghost-like visions of men in white overalls.

Nozuko Ogyle, one of three women on Motsieloa’s team, said she felt that women needed to work twice as hard to be taken seriously.

And that is yet another obstacle to gender equality: men treating women as if they can’t perform “a man’s job”. This is based on nothing more than their gender, not their ability to perform a job. Which is why many feminists argue against gender roles in society. Gender roles impose unnecessary gender based restrictions upon women and men.

“The job is physically challenging, and as women we must show that we can do it,” the conveyor-belt attendant said.

“I do hear about stories of harassment but not here, where I work.”

Anglo American Platinum, the mine owner, is South Africa’s largest private sector employer and has 3,081 women working in underground operations.

It has introduced a “buddy buddy” system to ensure that women don’t work alone when down the mines, as well as setting up a sexual harassment hotline.

Other new safety measures include surveillance cameras and biometric identity turnstiles at entrances to women’s changing facilities.

“Women have been able to talk to us and say ‘you should do this’… so I think there will be an ongoing process to make women feel safe in our mines,” Chris Griffith, CEO of Anglo American Platinum, told AFP.

Another good step would be educating the men that work for the company. They need to understand what sexual harassment is and the consequences of engaging in it. They also need to be taught the concept of consent as well as the fact that sexualized violence against women is a violation of their human rights. This education should be mandated by the company for all men. Another thing men need to learn is that women have the right to be in public on their own terms and that street harassment is despicable.

* * * *

Moroccan girl tells off man over ‘indecent’ comment

In the midst of a busy street in Tangier, Morocco, a man shouts at a passing woman, yelling at her that she’s dressed indecently. Unfortunately, this kind of harassment occurs all the time—it’s a common scenario. Except that, this time, the victim was ready with a comeback.

Social media users have gone crazy over this video since it was first posted on June 25. It currently has more than 150,000 views on YouTube.

“Fear God, my sister… we are in the middle of Ramadan”

The first few seconds of footage show a man sporting a beard and wearing a qamis (a traditional tunic worn by Muslim men) wandering up and down a crowded Tangiers street calling out to passers-by: “Fear god! God has made it so that I am among those who you fear!”

The passers-by don’t look fearful: most smile or wave him away distractedly, until he directly addresses a young woman who’s wearing a tee-shirt and sweatpants [At 0:13]: “Fear God, my sister… we are in the middle of Ramadan.”

Angered by his comment, the girl replies: “Why? Am I naked or something? Go f**** yourself!”

“I’m wearing trousers… just like you!”

The young woman continues on her way, walking along with a friend, who is wearing a traditional women’s garment, the djellaba.

But the man isn’t deterred: “My sister, don’t be ignorant!” [at 0:22].

The young woman whirls around, grabbing her pant leg. “What do you think this is? I’m wearing trousers! Just like you!”

With an air of resignation, the man raises his hands to the sky and says: “God pity her! God be witness!”

The video has been removed from YouTube due to “multiple third party notifications of copyright infringement”. Not that I need a video to know that the man’s actions-which he attempts to justify by citing his religious beliefs-constitute street harassment. A great many men have a hard time understanding that girls and women have the right to operate in public. Despite this right, many men feel they have the right to comment on a woman’s appearance, or make lewd or obscene gestures or comments. They also think they have the right to dictate to women what they can and cannot wear, as if they’re the morality police. Nothing could be further from the truth. While they have the right to free speech, that does not grant them the right to intimidate or harass women or girls. Women and girls are not going to stop speaking out on this issue, nor are men like myself who seek to be allies. Those men who would engage in street harassment would do well to learn to treat women as full human beings and as equals who do not need the permission of men to exist in public spaces. While we’re on the subject of things men need to learn-they need learn to acknowledge and find value in the accomplishments of women rather than valuing them based on their appearance. Among the many who need to learn this lesson are those who opted to focus on the body of one of the world’s greatest tennis players, rather than her phenomenal skills or her multitudinous accomplishments.

* * * *

She’s the winner of 20-plus Grand Slam singles titles.

She’s the first African-American woman to win the Australian Open.

She’s won six Wimbledon titles.

Of course I’m talking about the awesomely talented Serena Williams!

Regarded by some as the greatest athlete of her generation/in the United States/in the world (take your pick) 33-year-old Serena Williams recently won her sixth Wimbledon title. Sadly, it is more   important for some people to talk about her musculature than the fact that she’s an extraordinarily talented and world-renowned tennis star.

Former George W. Bush speechwriter turned Atlantic magazine senior editor David Frum tweeted over the weekend that Serena Williams might be taking steroids. Moments later, he deleted the tweets and claimed they were part of a private conversation and not intended for public consumption.

Williams defeated Garbiñe Muguruza 6-4, 6-4 to on Saturday to win the women’s singles category at Wimbledon, her 21st grand slam title.

Frum wrote on Saturday morning in reference to a New York Times article on women tennis players and body image, “Steroids? Oh no, no, no. ‘Body image issues.’”

Then, after Williams took home the title, he posted the following series of Tweets on Sunday:

Tweets about Serena Williams by David Frum

Frum’s comments are problematic-and sexist-for a couple of reasons. First-why would he think that Williams was on steroids? Does he have any evidence of that? If he did, he failed to present it. No, it appears he’s basing his wild speculation on images of Serena Williams. To him, she looks “too muscular”, which I guess he believes is a bad thing for a female tennis star. I suppose in his eyes, there is some sort of “proper” look for women who play tennis (and perhaps sports in general) and whatever look that is, it’s not supposed to be muscular. What he’s doing is shaming her for having a body he doesn’t approve of. I can’t believe it even needs to be pointed out, but women (like men) have a wide variety of body types. Some women are muscular, some are slender, others are fat, and some are combinations of those. There is no “correct” way for a woman to look, whether she’s an athlete or not, so Frum’s assumption about Williams’ body is pretty darned sexist.

Secondly, I’m curious how often Frum criticizes male athletes for their bodies. Does he wonder about the steroid use of Andy Roddick or Novak Djokovic? Or does he reserve such criticism for female tennis stars? I suspect the latter, as our culture obsessively judges the bodies of women (sports stars or no), shaming them for being too big or too small. This has the effect of society approving a very narrow range of body types for women. And before anyone whines, yes, society judges the bodies of men too, but there are a few differences. For one, the judging (and subsequent shaming) of women’s bodies is ubiquitous. That’s not the case with men. Secondly-and more importantly-the value of men is not wrapped up in their bodies. Discussions of male politicians focus on their accomplishments or their ideas for governing, not what suit they’re going to wear or how good they looked in an interview. Male musicians get to talk about who influenced them or what their upcoming albums are like, not their outfit at the last red carpet event. And interviews with male sports figures focus on their achievements and future goals, not how good they looked while playing.

Oh, and before anyone even thinks “well the media criticized Lance Armstrong for steroid use, therefore…”-the media had reason to suspect Armstrong. Speculation of steroid use plagued Armstrong as far back as 1999 when 6 out of 12 urine samples tested positive for the performance-enhancing drug EPO. In addition, allegations of steroid use on the part of Armstrong also came from journalists in the know as well as fellow cyclists. In other words, there was some basis for the speculation. That’s a far cry from David Frum discussing the possibility of steroid use on the part of Serena Williams. That she doesn’t fit his idea of what a female athlete ought to look like indicates that Frum has issues, not that Williams uses steroids. Incidentally, it’s bad enough that Serena Williams has to put up with body shaming-she also gets a heaping dose of racism to go along with it.

Serena Williams is far from the only female athlete to experience sexism in sports, nor is body shaming the only form of sexism prevalent in women’s sports. Just ask the United States women’s soccer team.

* * * *

The United States women’s soccer team recently won the Women’s World Cup. By a 5-2 margin, they defeated Japan’s team, proving victorious in the World Cup for the third time. Adding to this win, the World Cup shattered television records:

The U.S. women’s soccer team not only won the World Cup on Sunday — it broke TV records. The tournament’s final match was the most-watched soccer game ever, including men’s games, on a single U.S. television network. More Americans watched the Women’s World Cup final than the most recent NBA or Stanley Cup finals.

With such impressive accomplishments under their belt, one would think the women’s team made bank, and while they did make quite a bit of money, their payout was less than 3% of what FIFA handed the men’s soccer team in the 2014 World Cup:

Yet FIFA paid the winning women’s team a $2 million prize, which is four times less than the $8 million it pays men’s teams that lose in the first round. The total payout for the Women’s World Cup this year is $15 million, while FIFA awarded a total of $576 million to men’s teams in the World Cup last year.

Ultraviolet, a women’s rights advocacy organization, started a digital campaign on Monday to press FIFA to pay women’s soccer teams fairly for equal work. Roughly 60,000 people signed the campaign in the first 24 hours — more than twice the signatures a typical Ultraviolet campaign receives on its first day.

“This is what we would call a breakout campaign,” said Shaunna Thomas, the organization’s founder. “It’s a testament to how popular women’s soccer actually is and a reflection of the fact that this is not some marginal side show thing for FIFA. This is a very big deal for people in this country and around the world.”

FIFA did not immediately respond to a request for comment. But Jerome Valcke, its secretary general, said last year that the idea of paying women’s teams as much as men’s team for World Cup tournaments is “nonsense” because women have participated in fewer of them.

“The comparison between the prize money of the men’s World Cup in Brazil to the women’s World Cup in Canada, that’s not even a question I will answer because it is nonsense,” Valcke said at a news conference. “We played 30th (men’s) World Cup in 2014 and we are playing the seventh women’s World Cup, so things can grow step-by-step. We are still another 23 World Cups before potentially women should receive the same amount as men.”

Thomas said FIFA’s logic is inherently unfair, because women will never have played as many World Cups as men. “That means women can never expect equal prize money,” she said. “We don’t think it really makes sense at all.”

Once again, no matter how hard women work, they still won’t receive equal pay for equal work. I don’t know the training regimen female soccer players endure (nor do I know the regimen male soccer players endure), but I suspect it’s intense. You don’t get to the World Cup with mediocre training. These women worked their asses off, and they deserve to get paid well for it. I really don’t know why the number of games played by women is relevant. They practiced hard. The played hard. They emerged as the victors. That’s what matters. Period. End of story. If the men get paid boatloads of money, so should the women.

No matter the claims of women against feminism, as a group, women across the world continue to face sexism and misogyny in all areas of society. So long as this holds true, feminism will continue to be necessary.

Yes, feminism is still necessary

One thought on “Yes, feminism is still necessary

  1. 1

    I’ve met my share of WoC who aren’t sure of what Feminism is or think that feminism is for White women, but nevertheless, they do support equal rights and treatment of and for women. They don’t deny that that women have issues that they need settled.

    Worse than the idea of feminism being for White women only is these are, conventionally pretty, middle class, privileged White women who seek to speak for all women and say there are no problems to be dealt with at all. When you fit the physical ideal, have all the White male attention you could ever wish to seek, and are virtually assured that there will be someone around to take care of you and flatter you for the rest of your life (as long as you look good), then I guess you don’t need or even want to know what feminism is.

    And that’s not just ignorant, that’s an evil mindset of ,”I got mine. Now you try to get yours.”

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