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Women Have Not Yet Won

Updated Published
This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at BU chapter.

TW: sexual assault, domestic violence 

A woman lying on the floor, bruised and sobbing. Four or five young girls weighed down by gowns and jewelry, nervously averting their gaze from the middle-aged man hungrily looking at them. A family weeping as they bury their preteen daughter

In the few seconds it took you to read those sentences, these horrific events transpired all across the world. An American woman beaten by her partner, several little girls forced into marriage, a South Sudanese girl dying of pregnancy complications before she could even complete elementary school. All these events have taken place in 2021. 

“Modern feminism is a joke! I mean really, what can’t you do?” The boys in my class laugh under their breath, rolling their eyes as my friends and I talk about what it’s like to live under the patriarchy. “We have a female vice president, don’t we? What more do you want?” 

In moments like these, I often have a perverted wish that these boys, these men, look into the eyes of all the little girls who have been oppressed by misogynistic laws, customs, and societies. I dare them to say “women have it all” while they watch a 12-year-old die from a botched abortion, while they watch young women flee in terror from men following them at night, while they see bright-eyed girls watch sadly as their brothers go to school and they’re forced to stay at home. In America, one of the wealthiest and most powerful nations in the world, 17.4 out of 100,000 women die in childbirth every single year. For Black women, the number is 43 out of 100,000. But the number one cause of death for pregnant American women isn’t hemorrhaging or pre-eclampsia (although those rates are ridiculously high). It’s murder by an intimate male partner

And yet feminism is ‘a joke.’ 

“I am not free while any woman is unfree, even when her shackles are very different from my own,” wrote Audre Lorde, the lauded womanist and poet. It genuinely shouldn’t matter to feminists, or even non-feminists, if a minute number of women are able to claw their way to the top. Now, the women who do break glass ceilings, reach new heights, and pave the way for the next generation of girls are so important and valuable. Their accomplishments should never be diminished. But to focus only on the victories of a few women, especially when the most powerful women in the world already come from incredibly privileged backgrounds, will simply do nothing to help liberate the billions of women and girls who are suffering. Inspiration and representation are important, yes. But unplanned pregnancies are causing thousands of American women to be beaten or killed every year, and the United States government decided to repeal laws protecting female bodily autonomy in Texas. Afghan women who have suffered tremendously under US occupation were slowly able to fight for their rights to be recognized, only to be set back centuries by the Taliban’s recent ascent to power. Cheering for female CEOs without critical thought or claiming female politicians have demolished sexism simply won’t bring an end to these horrors. 

The vast majority of women around the world are not free. They are the backbone of almost every society in the world, and yet they are being stifled, terrorized, and killed simply because of their gender. Until every woman and girl around the world is independent, happy, and empowered, until we are ALL safe and liberated from the oppression of the patriarchy, the work is simply not done.  I could be any oppressed woman, and so could you, and so could our daughters. There is little separating Kamala Harris or Angela Merkel or you and I from women who are abused, subjugated, or persecuted, except luck, location, and arbitrary privileges. We must dig far deeper in order to absolve the misogyny that lurks in almost every institution and culture in the modern world and create a global society wherein all of our daughters will laugh at the idea that they were once held back or considered lesser.

“We don’t need feminism anymore” is a statement we have all heard time and again. I want to look into the eyes of the little girls that were once oppressed by misogynist structures and hear them say this too, one day, knowing they have every right and privilege that men have always had, knowing they are full of unfettered joy and ambition, knowing they are free. 

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Caroline is a sophomore at Boston University majoring in Political Science and minoring in English. She is originally from Huntsville, Alabama. She loves reading books written by women, watching A24 movies, and drawing! You can find her on insta @caroline.mccord !