Recently, I have seen a surge of Facebook posts proclaiming why people "need feminism." Others retort strongly that they vehemently do not. Websites such as womenagainstfeminism.tumblr.com feature women outraged at the trendy "feminist" cult. But I think that these "anti-feminists" are outraged over those who have taken the idea of feminism to an extreme, those who promote the ideas that all men are inherently malicious and, therefore, that women must be superior and should take back their rightful power immediately.
But while disputing terminology, self-proclaimed "feminists" and "anti-feminists" both agree that rape culture is prevalent, and that rape is wrong -- no one can argue that. Both groups believe that women should have equal access to jobs, education and pay. Both feel that women should not be pressured into dressing solely to impress men, but should be free to wear whatever level of provocative clothing they want. I don't think any woman, "feminist" or not, believes that her life should be entirely controlled by men. The main difference, then, is that "anti-feminists" believe that women should not control their lives either.
Maybe if we all stopped getting caught up in labels, and started acting in a civil manner, we could get more done. Something does need to change about the way sexual assault cases are treated at American universities. Obviously, we should respect and admire Hillary Clinton for more than her ability to rock a pastel pantsuit. But then again, women in America can and do go to college. Hillary Clinton can have a driver's license and the power of free speech.
Women in other parts of the world are seriously prevented from gaining access to education and are subjected to violence if they try to seek it. I'm not saying that gender inequality doesn't exist in America; however, me getting a comment about my skinny jeans from a drunken jerk on the street at night is not equal to Malala Yousafzai getting shot in the head for simply going to school. Catcalling in no way compares to the discrimination and violence that women and girls in countries such as Nigeria, Pakistan and many others across the world, face every second of every day.
The terrorist organization Boko Haram kidnapped hundreds of schoolgirls for pursuing an education in Nigeria. In the United States, there are more women than men applying to and enrolled in colleges and universities. In terms of really being oppressed, access to education is not biased against women here. Furthermore, women in the United States have been able to vote for nearly one hundred years: in Saudi Arabia and Vatican City, women still can't. And although there are not an equal number of women in Congress (women are only around 20 percent), at the 114th congress, which will begin in January, a record number of women will fill the seats.
Overall, whether you consider yourself a "feminist" or an "anti-feminist," you care about women. So stop disagreeing and calling each other names, and realize what you agree on. As with anything, putting up walls and shutting people out will not help your cause. Let's keep moving forward with the progress American women have been making in our society, but let's also keep our problems in perspective.