A Letter for the Feminist
Dear anyone who is not a feminist and, or is too afraid to claim to be a feminist,
Allow me to clarify a few things about feminists. We are not trying to take over the world and we are not asking for too much. Anyone who tells you otherwise does not understand what feminism is. So what is feminism you may ask? Feminism is the notion that women are equals to men. That we’re able to accomplish the same tasks and frankly are able to choose what it is we as individuals want to do with our lives.
“We hold these truths to be self evident that all men are created equal. And when I meet Thomas Jefferson, Imma compel him to include women in the sequel!”
These words are famously sung by Angelica Schuyler (currently played by Renée Elise Goldsberry) in Lin Manuel Miranda’s Broadway hit; Hamilton. Back in the 1700’s maybe it was considered intense or insane to think this way, but certainly it shouldn’t be now in 2016. The fact of the matter is that women have only had the right to vote since 1920 when the 19th Amendment was ratified. Now that seems insane, but we never would have gotten that right if the women of that era never ditched the corsets and put on those risque, boyish, flapper dresses. Women have spent decades working, no fighting to get us where we are now. And just because we have come this far does not mean that we can’t go farther.
The truth is women still aren’t equal. I am fortunate enough to live in New York, a rather liberal state that doesn’t restrict women on their accessibility to healthcare. A state that also has rape laws in place and considers it to be a B rate felony. But this isn’t true in every state. In fact healthcare for women maybe one of the biggest issues right now. There are several states that make it nearly impossible for women to get birth control or an abortion. But do you know how easy it is for your husband to get Viagra? He just has to ask his doctor. There are no laws that are going to prevent him or make him wait longer periods of time to get him medication that’s going to up his sex drive. Then in many states, young girls who are rape victims have to jump through hoops. Or to put it in more literal terms they have to drive to other states, spend thousands of dollars in order to get the health care they need. Think I’m making this up? Well this exact situation happened to a twelve year old girl in Texas because of the TRAP laws, as they have been dubbed, that are in place there. And with a situation this serious it’s hard to let Donald Trump’s flip flopping on policies slide. So which is it Donald? Should women get punished for getting an abortion or not?
Now I understand that if you’re pro-life this is difficult to understand. It’s okay, it’s your choice to not get an abortion, but shouldn’t a rape victim be allowed to choose whether or not she wants to get an abortion? That’s a part of what feminism is, being allowed to— no, having the right to choose for yourself.
Of course this isn’t the only issue we have in our society. The wage gap is very real and you know what? It’s not just the 77¢ you hear about. That only applies to white women, and it only goes down from there. How much do women of color make off the dollar you ask? If you’re an African American woman you make 64¢ in comparison to the white man’s dollar. If you’re hispanic you make 56¢. Needless to say I’m lucky to be able to make the 77¢, but that doesn’t mean it’s right. Why can’t a dollar be a dollar? Why should it matter if you’re a man or a woman? If you’re black or white? You should be paid accordingly. If you’re doing as much work as a white man then you should be making as much as he is, not less.
This is just one money issue we have to deal with. Let’s not forget about that women have to deal with the pink tax. Never heard of it? Well, it’s this little thing that makes products branded specifically for women more expensive than products branded for men. So girls, the next time you have to buy a pack of razors from the drugstore go for the big, manly, blue razors. I swear it does the same painful shave.
I’ve talked about a lot so far, but this is just to show you that we still need feminism. Feminist don’t just stand up for women, we stand up for men who feel the social pressure to be masculine and don’t want to spend their time watching every sport on primetime. We stand for the women that weren’t born with the genitalia that matches the gender identity they have on the inside. What being a feminist means has changed since the 20’s. It’s not just for the white girls willing to show their legs from the knee down. Feminism is for people of all colors and genders, that’s why I can’t stand seeing women discredit each other. Telling each other that they aren’t feminists or that they’re too feminist. We’re all in this together for the long run. We have to build each other up, not tear each other down.
So follow the lead of Emma Watson and Jennifer Lawrence if you want. It’s your choice. Take off your shirts and bras because you’re tired of your breasts being sexualized or stuck inside of a metal wire contraption. Go ahead, it’s your choice. If you want to be a stay at home mom and clean all day, that’s okay. It’s your choice. You can do anything you set your mind to because it’s your choice. But we can’t stand by and watch each other struggle to get the healthcare we need or earn the wage we deserve. We have to fight for the equality we want to see. We owe it to ourselves and to the women that fought before us to get society where it is today. This is America for crying out loud, this is what we do best! Reshape the system to be what we want it to be. We have that right. We have that choice.
Sincerely, a feminist