How far has feminism changed us?

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We look at the history of feminism and come to the assumption that we have overcame many obstacles. Don’t get me wrong, feminism has made a huge improvement to a lot of women’s lives, but is it really as much as we think? Kayleigh Brookfield investigates…

Edited by Imi Byers

Feminists have been fighting for the rights of women since the 1960’s – yet here we stand in the 21st Century and some issues still lay. It seems that some people are completely oblivious to the fact that in some cases females are viewed as inferior to males: the workplace is a prime example of this. Despite history ensuring that females do have the rights to work the same way as men do, it is still apparent that on average, men earn more than women. In 2015, female full-time workers made only 75 pence for every pound earned by men, resulting in a gender wage gap of 21 percent.

Gender wage difference fair?

Gender wage difference fair?

In some cases women also get treated unfairly in the work place. Hannah Greenwood, a 20 year old female from Reading has experienced gender inequality in her work in retail:“Working in sales, we have to use suppliers, I started to find it weird that one of the suppliers who happened to be a male would never respond to my emails”. She continued her new job as normal, until one day she received a rather insulting emailing stating that she “couldn’t read” and further, “this is why women shouldn’t have too much responsibly”. Fortunately for her, she didn’t get emotionally affected by these disgusting comments, but the man’s failure to respond to her emails led to unhappy customers, due to the fact that she couldn’t provide them with the information that she needed from him.

Its getting to the stage where it seems that everything feminists have been fighting for over the past 50 years have just been completely brushed to the side. What we don’t realise is that in the majority of industries, women are still paid 75% of what men earn for doing the same job, as well as being generally discriminated against in the process of being hired.

In addition, women statistically face far more harassment and assault either on the street or in social situations than men. It doesn’t take a genius to notice that females are still being objectified. It goes without saying that it can be very intimidating when walking past a group of builders and being wolf whistled at. In fact, it can be seen as more insulting than flattery.

Although the movement of feminism has impacted society for the better, it is clear that us females still have a long way to go. Ann Dawson, a campaigner at the National Alliance of Women’s Organisation (NAWO) agrees with this statement, particularly in respect to “cracking the glass ceiling”. Ann admits that “this is more apparent in some professionals than others. Is it a coincidence that many of the top jobs in the Health Service are filled by men whereas the majority of employees are women?” Women of our generation have a tendency to assume that feminism is a movement that was only necessary in the past. Ann agrees that “it is usually women that have not been part of the feminist movement!”

National Alliance of Woman's Organisation

National Alliance of Women’s Organisation

Together we are strong, we need more voices, action, and positivity.

Ann’s co-worker at NAWO, Zarin Hainsworth, works alongside Ann in fighting for the rights for women and also agrees that women need to do more to fight for their rights. “I do agree that females are unaware of the discrimination that we experience, though it seems that more young women are realising things are not as good as they thought.  They do well at school and get uni places but once they try getting jobs they see things are not equal.”
“Also, girls suffer from the occurrence of this sexism through media, social media and so on, so they do realise that they are suffering harassment – just in a different way.”
Perhaps the reason behind gender inequality still existing in the 21st century is the fact that not everybody is behind the movement, which leads to us females not being taken as seriously as we really should. Ann believes that “Women and men, girls and boys have to work together as it is an issue for humanity not just for women.”
Anti-feminist groups still argue against feminist beliefs and try to convince the world that feminism is simply over-exaggerated. Without us females all sticking together to fight for our rights, we are never really going to be taken seriously. Sarah, an anti-feminist campaigner who is part of the organisation “Women Against Feminism”, agrees that some aspects of feminism including the ‘Equal Pay Act’ are important. However, women use feminism to be biased towards their own gender. “At the basest level, I disagree fundamentally with many of the planks of feminism. But what makes me anti-feminist vs. “not a feminist”? Is the negative impact some feminist policies have on society?”
It is true that a lot of the current anti-rape campaigns suggest that women are the victims and men are the victimisers. Sarah goes on to state that: “Rape, of course, is a serious subject and a social ill, but like most social ills, it’s not a gendered issue. Further, while I agree rape is never the victims fault, I do believe prevention and precaution are both very important aspects of the discussion.”

“I believe campaigns such as “Don’t be that Guy”, and “Teach your sons not to rape,” dilute the discussion with impotent information, as well as paint the subject of rape as a gendered issue”.

Women protesting on Valentines Day 2013, Washington DC, against violence towards women

Women protesting on Valentines Day 2013, Washington DC, against violence towards women

Perhaps the way to move forward with feminism is to get back to basics and fight for what women were originally fighting for, rather than taking feminism to the extreme and almost using it as an excuse for everything? Women need to come together and unite as one body in order for the feminism movement to made a permanent, effective difference to society. Together we are strong.