Thursday, June 2, 2016

Pack Your Bags and Get On Board: Feminism Is Here To Stay

“It’s 2016…do we even need feminism anymore?”

This is a question I’ve heard many times, most recently while listening to one of my favorite podcasts. Although I love this podcast, I don’t celebrate my listenership, as it doesn’t exactly do wonders to advance women. I listen because some of the content truly interests me and the host makes some wonderful points on various topics, but damn do I HATE when he starts advocating that men treat women like garbage. "Women are gold-diggers." "Women are nothing more than cum dumpsters." "Women bitch about equality but don’t want to live up to their end of the equality equation." Yes, that's really what the podcast host advocates.

A recent conversation with my husband shed some light on this subject as well. He posted a Facebook comment on the ruling of an Oklahoma court that oral sex with anunconscious victim is not considered rape. My husband claimed to be joking when he posted a link to this article with the caption “Road Trip to Oklahoma! Who wants to go?” Of course it got some chuckles and "likes" from other guys, but I found myself rolling my eyes in disgust. I’ve always considered my husband a supporter of equal rights, but yet here he is laughing and joking about something that I didn’t consider funny at all. In fact, I thought it was pretty fucked up.

The examples in everyday life are endless. How many times have YOU heard someone joking about how women belong in the kitchen making sandwiches? When I show any form of emotion, I’m deemed as coming up on “that time of the month.” During Hillary Clinton’s 2008 presidential campaign, she washeckled to the tune of “Iron My Shirt” while making a speech in New HampshireDonald Trump claimed Megyn Kelly was bleedingout of her “wherever” for asking him tough questions during a debate. What does it say about our society when people that are running for the highest office in the United States are subject to or instigating blatant sexism?

One of my favorite documentaries, Miss Representation, a film directed by Kimberlee AcQuaro and Jennifer Siebel Newsom, confronts the issue of sexism in media and its implications for everyone in society. I loved that the film ended by, not only having people state a single sentence what viewers can do to combat sexism, but also encouraging viewers to think of their own ways to affect change. 

One of the things I did was give up watching one of my guilty pleasure TV shows at the time: “Dallas CowboysCheerleaders—Making the Team.” If you have never seen this show, I will give you a brief description: pretty, talented, young women are demeaned and made to kowtow to the director and choreographer of the squad (the ever-feared Kelli and Judy) until they deem the women not worthy enough for the uniform (too fat, not attractive enough, cannot dance sexy enough, are flat-out “boring,” have no personality, etc.), at which time the women are called into the office and given the axe by Kelli, uttering the most feared words: “Tonight will be your last night.” Tears begin to flow as the women state that earning a place on the squad is their lifelong dream and how devastated they are that they weren’t up to the “DCC Standards.” They will usually make a declaration to train harder to become what Kelli and Judy want them to be so they can repeat the whole process again during next year's tryouts. This would actually be an admirable goal if the women were being fairly compensated for the nearly impossible standards they must meet. For their long hours of practices, workouts, investments in dance classes and beauty products/services, etc., they are paid a flat fee of $150 per game (a payout of $43,200 for their average squad of 36 women performing at 8 home games per season) when the Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders were valued at $1.35 million in 2010 while bringing in an additional $1 million to the Cowboys franchise. Mind you, these are just the numbers for the cheerleaders, NOT the much higher numbers for the entire Cowboys organization. Complete bullshit.

So I’m making a point to call the bullshit out. No more letting my husband feel that it’s okay to assume I’m being premenstrual when I have legitimate feelings or not challenging him when he posts bullshit remarks about road trips to get non-consensual blowjobs. No more supporting presidential candidates that only give consideration to women if they are foreign-born supermodels. No more junk TV depicting women that should feel “privileged” to be on a squad where they work their asses off for little return beyond being eye candy for drunken Cowboys fans (although I must admit that giving up the podcast remains a work-in-progress).

So, yes, we still need feminism in 2016 because, as Joss Wheden succinctly answered when asked why he writes such strong female characters, “Because you’re still asking me that question.” We'll need feminism until sexist shit like the examples above no longer exist in our society.

Feminism is here to stay. Pack your bags and board the train, Janes!

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