10 Reasons We Still Need Feminism Today

 2013: Beyoncé’s self-titled album becomes the fastest selling on iTunes worldwide only three days after its release. On Track 11, ‘Flawless’, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie coins the legendary statement in a song whose YouTube hits are verging on 19million, ‘Feminist: A person who believes in the social, political and economic equality of the sexes.’

Feminism is not only active in modern society; it’s prominent. A movement which began with the suffragettes in the early 1900s – earning women the right to vote alongside other basic human rights they had previously been denied – and spanning the century with events such as the abolishment of certain laws (including the legality of rape within marriage and women being lawfully unable to divorce their husbands), getting rid of the marriage vow applicable exclusively to women until the 1960s, ‘to love, honour and obey’, and the women’s liberation of the 1970s, which brought about much of the gender equality we are accustomed to today.

We have come a long way since the days where women were deemed good for nothing except being the homemaker ‘in the kitchen’ (at least for most people. Thanks Tyson Fury!) It seems nearly perverse that feminism is still an essential aspect of our postmodern culture. But modern feminists for the most part are not the bra-burning, men-renouncing radicals with whom they can often be identified by the press and social media. As far as most people are concerned, if you believe that men and women should earn the same salary for the same job title, you’re a feminist. If you believe that men and women alike should be able to dress how they want, go where they want and talk to whoever they want without living in fear of being harassed, assaulted or raped, you’re a feminist. If you think it’s wrong that in the 21st century (an era which possesses the technology to create the wonders of Tinder and Netflix), we have only seen one female Prime Minister, you’re a feminist.

Feminism isn’t pro-women exclusively; feminism is about gender equality. It is one of the most important equality movements society has undergone, and here are 10 of the main reasons why it remains a complete necessity in 2016:

1.      Because there is still a wage gap which shows a drastic imbalance of justice between men and women doing the same job.

In the UK, a 2015 study conducted by the Press Association showed that women in their 20s were out-earning men in their 20s by an average of £1,111. Whilst this might suggest that there has been a role-reversal with women’s liberated capability to undertake high-pressured, high-earning jobs which in the past were practically inaccessible, the same study showed that men in their 30s out-earned women in their 30s by an average of £8775. The study didn’t attempt to explain the causes of the gender gap. A similar trend in America shows that by the time a woman reaches 60, she will have earned $450,000 less than a man working in the same job.

2.      Because in a court of law, victims of rape can still be asked, ‘What were you wearing?’

Until recent years in this country, rape was a gender neutral offence; that is, a crime committed against women by men. And it had to involve physically having sex with someone; anything else fell under the ‘assault’ or ‘sexual assault’ subsection. However, more recent and rational opinion on the definition of ‘rape’ is the ‘no means no’ argument. That is, anyone, male or female, can be a victim of rape if someone forces advances upon them without their consent. That rape might still be a victim-blaming crime is apparent in that the question, ‘what were you wearing?’ is still genuinely utilised as a means of justification by the public and even prosecutors in court.

3.      Because conforming to gender roles and expectations of ‘masculinity’ and ‘femininity’ impacts the fact that only 17% of men are treated for mental health problems against 29% of women.

Experts have brought to light one theory that this is because men are taught from a young age that they should repress emotion and sensitivity because these are the sorts of things which just don’t conform with being ‘masculine’. This alongside suicide statistics in the UK being three times higher for men gives a shocking insight. Admittedly, alternative reasons have been given: women have a higher tendency to suffer from depression for biological reasons, and are more likely to have their symptoms diagnosed accurately by doctors, thus are more likely to be treated. It has further been noted that attempted suicide rates are higher for women, but men commit more lethal suicides because of their chosen methods. That this could be a result of gender pressures, including those surrounding homosexuality in both sexes, is a terrifying concept.

4.      Because size 14 is classed as ‘plus-size’ in multiple clothing lines.

The images we are exposed to on the internet, in the press and on social media every single day create one of the most unrealistic pressures our generation must face. Girls with massive boobs and tiny waists, men with six-packs; it’s a culture which statistically affects teenagers and young adults the most, and has resulted in driving people to dangerous extremes.

5.      Because same-sex marriage was only legalised in the UK in 2014, and for it to be legalised in all 50 American states took until 2015.

And homosexuality is still punishable by death in Iran, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Somalia and Yemen to name but a few.

6.      Because most people would choose a female babysitter over a male one.

Because gender roles are still a massive influence on the types of jobs we end up doing. During the construction of London’s Wembley Stadium in 2006, of the 10,000 construction workers present, 0.05% were female. Literally about 5 women. And in 2014, the statistics for primary school teachers stood at 74% female and only 26% male. Studies have shown that much of this statistical evidence is a result of the fact that people might feel their gender limits them in certain fields of work.

7.      Because women who sleep around are ‘sluts’ and men who sleep around are ‘players’.

Double standards can be plaguing. As a teenager or young adult, the words ‘slut’ and ‘slag’ are thrown around in relation to girls based on the choices they make – and which they are free to make. For men, this is arguably less condemning, a pattern which continues into later life, where single women might be labelled ‘spinsters’ and single men ‘bachelors’.

8.      Because in some countries it is still a cultural norm for teenage girls to be married to 60 year old men, bearing their children from as young as 11 or 12.

In Saudi Arabia, women aren’t allowed to drive. In 2012, Malala Yousafzai, then 15, was shot by the Taliban in Pakistan because she thought she had a right to education, and they disagreed. Because she’s a woman. In some countries women are still denied the luxury of the vote. In some countries women are still regarded as nothing more than the property of their husbands, without the right to even walk down the street unaccompanied. In some countries, there have been cases of ‘shame killings’, where daughters are actually murdered, usually by methods as ruthless as being beaten to death, because they simply looked at a man in the street.

9.      Because we pay tampon tax.

About a year ago, there was an Instagram post by @rupikaur_ which was removed from the site for being ‘inappropriate’. Essentially, it’s a picture of a woman lying on her side with blood between her legs. The outcry this image sparked surrounding the taboo of periods was astonishing. After the picture had been removed, Rupi reposted it in rebellion, pointing out that ‘your guildelines outline that it is nothing but acceptable. The girl is fully clothed. The photo is mine. It is not attacking a certain group. Nor is it spam.’ And technically speaking, she was right. The second post remains on her Instagram page. For most of us, periods are just a once-a-month hassle in the same vein as cleaning our rooms or perhaps, starting a new diet. But the fact that we actually pay tax for enduring crippling pains for a week - not to mention the blood - and all so we can reproduce the human dynasty seems a bit unfair. More so when set against the crucial element: men don’t pay tax for items such as shaving cream. Because tampons are a luxury. And shaving cream is an essential. Yep.

10.  Because I’m a girl and without feminism I wouldn’t be where I am today.

 Our society needs feminism because we live in the 21st century. It’s a time for change, a time for difference and, most importantly, a time for unity. We have hit the peak of humanity, and the equality of men and women should be absolutely unquestionable, undeniable and fully recognised by everybody, no matter what age, culture or sex. In the words of George Carlin, ‘Men are from Earth, women are from Earth. Deal with it.’