Don’t forget the ladies

Sophie Prettyman , Staff Writer

I turn on the TV and an image of a woman in a skimpy bikini eating a cheeseburger while men ogle her as if she was a yummy piece of meat herself materializes on the screen. I change the channel; another scantily clad woman is portrayed trying to seduce a man, causing me to change the channel once again. On the news, a woman reports being sexually harassed and nearly kidnapped and raped by a stranger on the streets. Wondering what the weather will be tomorrow, I change the channel to another news station hoping to see the weather report, but instead see a story about a college girl who was raped on campus. Notice what’s wrong with these images?


When I talk about women’s rights and gender equality in 2015, some people say, “Women do have rights now; they can vote.” My guy friends who know that I am a feminist often tease me about my beliefs, doing things such as punching me in the arm (hard) and saying, “You want equal treatment as men, right?” or telling distasteful jokes about women and feminism. In all honesty, sometimes this bothers me, even if they are just trying to get a reaction out of me for fun. Don’t write me off as an “angry” feminist or a “man-hater” (believe it or not, feminism is actually about gender equality, not man-hating), hear me out before you develop any opinions. Sure, women have more rights than in past years, but we still have a ways to go and in other countries as well as ours. In the United States, women typically earn around 20% less money than men for the same work, there are far less female CEOs than men (there are actually more men named John running major companies than women CEOs), and at least 65% of women report having been sexually harassed in some way worldwide. These are a few reasons why International Women’s Day was on Sunday, Mar. 8, and the whole month of March is Women’s History Month.


International Women’s Day and Women’s History Month is a time to remember and honor women everywhere for all they have achieved thus far socially, politically, and economically, as well as to keep in mind how we still need to stand together to help other women in countries where they are more oppressed than in more developed nations like ours. I think that this is an important time of remembrance because we don’t learn a lot about women’s rights and gender equality in school and only spend so much class time learning about historic women, including passionate women’s voting rights advocate Susan B. Anthony, youngest Nobel Prize winner/activist Malala Yousafzai, and Civil Rights Movement icon Rosa Parks.


Feminism has been receiving major media attention in the past year, with celebrities such as Beyoncé, Ryan Gosling, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Taylor Swift, and Emma Watson embracing the label and attempting to promote ideas of gender equality (which is important for both women and men) in order to bash the misconceptions of angry, man-hating women who want to dominate males, which are too often attached to the word (I mean this obviously isn’t what a feminist is if Ryan Gosling, who is not a woman and does not hate men, claims to be one. He doesn’t seem very angry, either). Actress and Oscar-winner Patricia Arquette called for equal pay and equal treatment for women. It has also been a greatly debated topic on social media, a place for great change to start, because of awareness-raising campaigns like the HeforShe Campaign and multiple trending hashtags including #YesAllWomen, #UglyGirlsClub, #AllMenCan and #RapeCultureIsWhen in response to comments pertaining to victim-blaming and against feminism.


Even with our great progress, women still have work to do when it comes to gender equality, and not just in America. In the past year, several outspoken female gamers were victims of numerous death threats for speaking out in favor of a more female-friendly gaming community. India recently banned a controversial documentary called India’s Daughter about a young Indian woman with a bright future who was gang-raped and brutally beaten to the point of dying on a bus. A Lebanese anchorwoman was greatly disrespected by a powerful man she was trying to interview to the point where she had to cut the interview short. These incidents are evidence that men and women alike need to join forces to bring these social issues into the light and work together to not only raise awareness, but also take active measures towards making life better for women everywhere.


That is not to disregard the admirable strides women have made. Less than 100 years ago, we didn’t even have the right to vote! Female scientists, activists, politicians, artists, and more have helped not only womankind but the world, leaving us forever indebted to them. So this month, strike your best Rosie the Riveter “We Can Do It” pose, remember to hug your mom, and take a moment or two to thank the women who have helped make this world a better place, perhaps finding some inspiration to take part in making a difference yourself. I’m going to go watch Parks and Recreation and marvel at the wondrous woman-power of Leslie Knope. Here’s to the ladies. Happy Women’s History Month, everybody.