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Heather Wood Rudúlph

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5 Reasons We Still Need Feminism

Posted: 06/02/09 12:50 PM ET

Just because folks (and women, no less!) like to declare feminism dead every few weeks doesn't mean it is -- nor, more importantly that it can or should be. Here, five issues (though there are plenty more) that are sure to revive your feminist fervor (or furor) when you need a push. (I understand. It's summer. I'd rather be lazing in the park than thinking about issues all the time too.)

1. Rapists still get away with this. You really need to read the whole stunningly reported, shocking tale of this serial rapist to comprehend the extent of damage he was allowed to do. But suffice to say that Jeffrey Marsalis was charged with rape a whopping 10 times without a conviction, simply because juries thought his self-composed, professional-woman victims were too "put together" to be rape victims -- and because most of them exhibited what is confusing, but typical, post-date rape behavior by talking to and sometimes seeing him again. (Not to mention appalling implications like this one from his defense attorney: "All of these women wanted to date Jeffrey Marsalis. They all went out drinking. Nobody said, 'Let's catch a movie, we want to go to a ball game, let's just have dinner, let's meet in the park, I just want to talk.' They all went out with Dr. Jeff, and they all went out drinking alcohol." Oh, good, a fun new version of "she was asking for it"!) The one silver lining? His recent, long-overdue conviction.

2. Women still fight for education and basic literacy across the world. And that's why we need volunteer efforts such as the recently launched Afghan Women's Writing Project, which pairs United States-based writing teachers with Afghan women to hone their works and share them with the world. (Please, please check out the blog, comment on the pieces, sign up for the newsletter, and donate if you can!)

3. Women's reproductive rights are still in jeopardy. Roe vs. Wade may still be safe, but cuts to Planned Parenthood funding can have effects that are just as detrimental. Blame the recession's effect on social programs (namely, the elimination thereof), or just blame conservatives. Either way you slice it, women's health services often find themselves on the chopping block. This month, The Orange County Health Care Agency denied funding for a new breast health program sponsored by Planned Parenthood. In March, county supervisors voted unanimously to suspend the organizations nearly $300,000 contract to fund teen and preteen sex education programs, saying that they don't deserve county funding because Planned Parenthood performs abortions. Since when did being pro-life mean being anti-woman? (Let's review: Sex education = fewer abortions!)... And -- sadly -- hypocritical extremists still make the fight for proper women's healthcare a matter of life and death.

4. Obsessed, Bride Wars, Bridezillasand everything else that paints women as crazed (in various and sundry ways) to find, keep, and marry a man. More offensive than the man-fever these movies suggest all women have is the cavalier manner in which women will turn on one another to get the prize. The message conveyed is that we only need female friendships until we "snag" the guy. We'd like to strive for a sisterhood where compassion trumps competition and cattiness.

5. And while we're on the pop-culture topic: Heidi Montag, The Real Housewives, Keeping Up With the Kardashians and any VH1 show ending with "of Love." Surefire recipe for "success": gobs of plastic surgery, catty bitchiness (again!), and desperation to whore oneself out on national television. Fantastic system we're setting up there for future generations. And guess what: It's our own damn fault for watching! (I know, Real Housewives is addictive TV. Feminism is hard.)


Heather Wood Rudúlph is the co-founder and editorial director of SirensMag.com. To read the original article, click here.

 

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