According to Merriam Webster’s Dictionary, Feminism is defined as “the theory of political, economic, and social equality of the sexes”. This definition has not changed since the birth of the feminist movement; it has and always will be concerned with bringing the status of women to match the pre-established value and status of men. Feminism has succeeded in many ways since its birth, garnering successes like the female vote, winning Roe vs. Wade (for those who don’t know, this is the bill that allows a woman the right to abortion), and mending a bit of the wage gap. This leads many millennials to sit back and pretend that feminism isn’t needed anymore, and that all the battle is over. I’m here to discuss why this is not only wrong, but why this attitude is detrimental to our generation as a whole.
First things first, women are still not being paid as much as men. There is no way to get around that fact. On average, women are paid 77 cents to every dollar a man makes. This means that over the course of a 40 year career, a woman makes, on average, $443,360 less than a man does, meaning that she would have to work 12 more full years to have earned the equivalent he did 12 years prior for the exact same job. This is not only problematic from a political stand point, being that it doesn’t coincide with the Lily Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, of which was passed in 2009, but it also exhibits a mentality rampant in our society, being that women are not as capable as men.
The inequality presented in the wage gap extends to the government and the female representation within it. Women hold only 17 of the 100 Senate seats, and only 73 of the 435 House seats. This is not only unequal, but it means that our country is quite literally only getting half of the story on any one subject. As these are portions of the government are responsible for approving bills and laws, men have an unfair advantage when it comes to passing them. Bills this year of concern included whether hormonal birth control should or should not be covered by employer health care, of which was passed because of Obama Care. However, this bill was adamantly stood against, men citing that it wasn’t right to have birth control covered, as it is a sexual act and promiscuous. However, men have had Viagra covered on plans for years now, of which is rooted in sexuality. Having men rule what happens to bills that directly affect only women follows the mentality that women are not as capable as men, as if they were viewed as capable women would be expected to make these decisions for themselves with the help of men, not only by men.
I think this information is vital for millennials to be aware of. If our generation isn’t aware of inequalities such as these, then these will never be changed. Women are able to fight in war and can obtain jobs, but that doesn’t insinuate perfect equality, and it’s frankly upsetting to me that people believe all is equal. As long as feminism is still thought of as a dirty word and feminists are still perceived as those who burn bras (of which was actually a myth—the more you know), as long as men are still making decisions about women’s bodies without their consent and as long as one in five women will be raped in their lifetime, I will be a feminist encouraging my peers to get involved and educate themselves. We as a generation need to be involved to change these things and create the equality we’re all deserving of.
Courtney Cook age 17 is a junior at Chicago Academy for The Arts and is a contributor to Youth Political Engagement