- Category: Volume 88 (Fall 2016 - Spring 2017)
- Published: 16 November 2016
- Written by KERRY BREEN | COPY EDITOR
Feminism has long been a talking point in the modern world. Discussions surrounding the recent presidential election or the wage gap, conversations about women’s health and reproductive rights or harassment and discrimination in the workplace, nearly every political conversation seems to circle around to it eventually.
“Men and women should be equal. Although it’s improved over the years, it’s still a work in progress. Ideally, on a national and even global level, girls and women should be able to receive an education and have equal pay,”said an English student who wishes to remain anonymous.
Many young women believe that feminism is a concept that should be continued. Natalie Toro, a junior biology student said, “I don’t think it’s working, based off of the election. Women still have to continue to work harder than men, just to earn a lower wage. It will take years, but with more education the next generation can hopefully change and improve feminism.”
While the feminist movement has made strides in the past years, there is still more that could be done. On Tuesday, Nov. 8, Hillary Clinton lost her campaign to be president of the United States.
However, four new female senators were elected to Congress, bringing the total number of female senators to 21 out of 100. Eighty-four women hold seats in the House of Representatives, making up 19.3 percent of its total body. While there may not yet be a female president, there are still plenty of other women in political power.
However, the election highlighted some issues in feminism in the United States, such as a lack of intersectional feminism. Intersectional feminism is defined as the study of intersections between forms or systems of oppression, domination, or discrimination.
A common example is black feminism – this argues that the experience of being a black woman cannot be understood in terms of being black, and of being a woman, considered independently, but must instead include the interactions, which frequently reinforce and support each other.
“That so many white women voted to protect their white privilege this election demonstrates how feminism still has many decades of work ahead,” said Corey Wrenn, Ph.D., the director of Monmouth University’s gender studies program, talking about how president-elect Trump won 53 percent of white women’s votes, as opposed to Hillary Clinton’s 43 percent. “Feminism is less about solidarity and collective action today, and more about using one’s individual position to scramble to protect and grow privilege with little concern to the impact that unequal access has on others less fortunate.”
There have also been changes made in terms of workplace treatment of women. Companies have begun to acknowledge the need for paid maternity leave and workplace harassment claims are more likely to be taken seriously. However, as with politics, there is still more progress to be made.
“The research and the data, both numbers and stories from women, show that a good portion of gender discrimination, while present throughout one’s life, seems to hit women once they enter and begin to progress through their careers,” said Jennifer McGovern, Ph.D., an assistant professor in the sociology and political science departments at Monmouth University.
“For example, the wage gap grows bigger as women age. In addition, many of the issues connected with gender inequality arise when starting a family.”
McGovern also explained that sometimes, college students may not see the need for a movement like feminism because their lives haven’t been truly impacted by the lack of it yet.
“Young college-aged people often haven’t faced many of these obstacles and thus don’t always see feminism as something they want, or need,” McGovern explained.
“For example, a young man in college may not see the need for family leave policies; however, upon having their first child, they may want to stay home and help their spouse and bond with their child. Many companies would not allow this, but as a young college-age person, you aren’t thinking about that.”
“Feminism is a complex topic but overall I do believe it’s working,” said Marisa Nardelli, a junior biology student. “Women have come great lengths over the recent years. Of course, there are some issues, such as the wage gap, that could be improved upon.”
Both Professor McGovern and Wrenn pointed out the need for a more united feminist movement, “All great successes that women have had, such as the right to vote or the right to enter college and be protected by Title IX, have come at the heels of social movements and groups of women and men standing together to fight for the opportunity.”
Feminism is more than just a movement it is about supporting each other, men and women, in achieving their dreams. Any dream is possible no matter the sex, whether that be a male who wants to be an artist or a woman who wants to coach in the NFL. Gender should not act as an obstacle that hinder one’s ability to achieve their goals. Feminism does not only advocate for the liberation of women, but its objective is to liberate the limitations that are imposed on individuals based on their gender, ethnicity, or age.
IMAGE TAKEN from The Huffington Post/