Sophomores Alyssa Bui and Jen Chiang practice plays on the field before their first game.  Photo Credit: Jenny Li

Sophomores Alyssa Bui and Jen Chiang practice plays on the field before their first flag football game. “People see football as a ‘boy’s game,’ but I feel like I can play just as well as a boy.” Bui said.
Photo Credit: Jenny Li

There is a certain stigma toward individuals who are identified as feminists, and the word “feminism” in general. However, if one were to ask someone if they believe women should have the same rights as men, a typical response would be “yes.”

Feminism is defined as “the belief that men and women should have equal rights and opportunities”, and yet, the same people who claim to be in favor of equal rights do not identify themselves as feminists.

The most probable explanation for this, as well as several other social issues, is ignorance. Today, both young people and adults see feminists as extremist women who hate men. Like all stereotypes, this generalization may be somewhat based on truth, but does not define the group as a whole. Hate tends to be loud; sometimes so loud that it blocks out the main goal and what’s really important. Feminism is not about hating men. It is about being given the same rights as men.

Perhaps the cause of silence about this topic has to do with the belief that feminism is not “needed” or “relevant.” Many people no longer see the importance of feminism, because in the eye of the law, it appears that women hold the same rights as men. The 19th amendment allows women the right to vote, and the Equal Pay Act provides women with equal pay to men for the same work. However, according to CBS News, 50 years after the “Equal Pay Act” was passed, women still earn an average of 77 cents for every dollar earned by a man. For Hispanic and African American women, wages are even lower.[vision_pullquote style=”1″ align=””] How is it that feminism is not an issue when women are still denied equality in basic economic rights, not to mention inequality within social standards? [/vision_pullquote]

How is it that feminism is not an issue when women are still denied equality in basic economic rights, not to mention inequality within social standards?

Clear examples of why feminism is still needed can be found within the walls of any high school in America.

Any girl who dares to participate in “No Shave November,” and annual trend that encourages going without shaving for the entire month, is harshly condemned and called “repulsive” by males AND females. Some women choose to shave on a regular basis, and others don’t. Ridiculing those who choose not to do so only leads back to the fact that “a women’s worth is determined by her appearance.” Aside from that, shaving can be expensive and time-consuming. Men, how would you feel if you were seen as “disgusting” because you decided to not be burdened with shaving, even if it were just for a week or two

Furthermore, boys call each other names such as “girl” or “sissy” intending to mean weak or powerless. Having their masculinity questioned is seen as a huge insult. Using these words as insults implies that even at a boy’s lowest, they are still better than a girl.

Even in today’s pop culture, criticism is directed much more harshly towards women than towards men. For example, when singer Miley Cyrus performed at this year’s VMAs using her body in a sexual manner in order to grab the audiences attention, she was denounced and criticized for weeks. Her behavior was seen as “overlysexualized,” despite the fact that the award show is not meant for young children, and encourages nonconformity and shocking performances. Yet, when a male artist behaves in the same way or by the same means, they are hardly given any of the criticism directed towards a woman, or in this case, Cyrus. Robin Thicke who was also present on stage performing with Cyrus, singing overtly suggestive lyrics while dancing along with her in the same provocative manner, was barely mentioned in the storm of critique towards her.

These are only a few minor inequalities between men and women. We as individuals can help to change the current mindset or stigma towards feminism by educating ourselves and realizing why feminism is still needed and relevant. Whether one is male or female, by realizing that these issues with equality still exist and supporting the idea to create equality among all human beings, they are single-handedly making the world a better place.