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It’s Time to Step Up

Current women’s movement tactics are productive in working towards their goals, but more effort is needed to produce concrete change

Mikaela Schmitt, Editor-in-Chief

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Thee fight for equality in all walks of life, it seems, is never ending. Each era contains unique movements that embody society at that moment in history. In 2018, another wave of the women’s movement, among others, characterizes the social issues pressing on many minds.

In the past, women mobilized and gained the right to vote, the right to work and the right to be recognized as valued members of the community. Today, although their fight initially appears inconsequential by comparison, women continue to assemble to advocate for causes pivotal to their daily lives.

In fact, many of the rights women strive to protect are extensions of previous battles fought and won. The difference is that today women are tackling a much greater feat; they aim to change minds, not laws. 

They strive to break stereotypes around reproductive rights, sexuality and their value in society. By law, a majority of these things are protected, yet women remain far from “equal” in society as a whole.

However, due to the nature of this metaphysical battle, the women’s movement cannot rely on standard techniques; they are attempting to change people’s minds about a majority minority, something which has not been achieved since the move to end racism. More drastic action is necessary if the dreams of equal power between male and       female are to be achieved.

After the passage of the 19th amendment in 1920, giving women the right to vote, the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) was introduced by a suffrage leader in 1923. After passing Congress in 1972, the amendment failed to be ratified by the 38 states required. The ERA proposed that civil rights could not be denied based on one’s sex, as suffrage leaders believed it was not ensured within the 19th amendment.

Feminists today–whether they agree with the proposed legislative action–are fighting for these essential rights. The ERA failed to pass because it split the women’s movement, and the focus moved to the differences and disagreements within instead of the cause: trying to gain progress on those outside the party. Countless times in history we have seen division over simple issues become the death sentence for movements; feminists must first focus on gaining unity to prevent self-destruction.

Nonetheless, it is important to first define “feminism,” a phrase which has become polarized by politics and extremist views. Feminism simply means “the advocacy of women’s rights on the basis of the equality of the sexes.” Instead it has transformed into a devaluation of men; an argument that women are superior to the opposite sex. People have become so focused on a singular word and the connotation behind it that they lose sight of the ideals and actions of females and males involved in the movement, creating a major setback in progress.

Blame for this is to be placed on individuals within and outside of the movement; many involved with the movement contribute to the stereotype while others are guilty of oversimplification and exaggeration. However, the focus on blame is a primary reason why progress is not being made.

The victim mindset that many women have adopted results in monumental strides backwards. It causes individuals to lose sight of equality and instead turns it into a “blame game” focused on how men take advantage of women, are power hungry and are abhorrent people. Through these exaggerations women are degrading themselves and their self-advocacy abilities while also suppressing males into stereotypes similar to those they are striving to break free from. Females are expected to be gentle and pretty, while men are forced into hypermasculinity where strength, dominance and power are praised. Recognition of the issues with both of these expectations is vital for progress to be made on either side.

Recently, no makeup and no shaving trends have begun, spreading positive body-image messages and promoting independence from society’s standards. However, it is pivotal to also remain accepting of the other extreme, allowing girls to wear makeup or shave their legs without judgment or assumptions that they are doing it to please men. Developing a stigma against these actions as ‘male-motivated activities’ degrades females’s free will; judging someone for their choices instantly reciprocates the judgment and expectations which the movement is fighting to eradicate. The women’s movement is and will continue to take strides towards progress, but they must take a step back and look at the hypocrisy that they can promote.

While the recent marches and #metoo movement have proved monumental in expanding and promoting the cause, progress cannot be made through these simple things. Involvement needs to span beyond a one day event or a like/retweet. The 2017 marches had attendance comparable to the antiwar protests of February, 2003 and larger than the Tea Party Protests in 2007-2010. With this massive amount of people looking for change, achieving it is just within sight. 

Now is the time to step up. Change will only happen if you help it. Stop complaining on social media and get involved; female’s pay is the closest it has ever been to men’s and the United States almost elected a female president. Change is attainable and it is coming, however it must be welcomed by a group of active and united women, not a group of hypocrites on their cell phones.

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