The other week, I asked my boyfriend a question that not many college men like to hear: “Do you consider yourself a feminist?” He seemed a bit taken aback and after a few quiet minutes, said that he didn’t know enough about feminism to give a definitive answer. Even though my question was successfully avoided, he is not alone in this disposition.
“I, myself have never been able to find out precisely what feminism is,” stated author and journalist, Rebecca West in 1913, “I only know that people call me a feminist whenever I express sentiments that differentiate me from a doormat.”
Despite some ambiguity, there has been significant progress in terms of achieving social and economic equality. In the late 1800’s and early 1900’s, women fought to attend higher-education universities, own property and vote. Even in the early seventies, my mother stubbornly defended her right to educational equality and was the first girl in middle school to take wood-shop and wear pants. Recently, however, the movement has lost some steam with many young adults seemingly indifferent towards current gender inequalities.
According to USA Today, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that women earn about 20 percent less than men with similar positions and qualifications. Furthermore, only about three percent of Fortune 500 CEOs are female. “The advancement of key women in business is stalled,” remarked CEO of women’s business newsletter, Little PINK Book, Cynthia Good.
Gender inequalities can also be found flowing through our various social and news media outlets. Reported by Ms. magazine, a study of news sources during the 2012 presidential election conducted by Fourth Estate found that “men were four to seven times more likely to be quoted in stories about women’s issues and rights.” More specifically: 67 percent of quotes about Planned Parenthood, 75 percent of quotes about birth control and 81 percent of quotes about abortion were from men. Additionally, only 31 percent of quotes about women’s rights were from women.
Although gender inequality seems more subtle now than in earlier centuries, it remains ubiquitous throughout our education system, the media and corporate America. Today’s feminists must identify and draw attention to such issues. As society evolves, it is necessary for the gender revolution to evolve with it.