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The BG News
BG24 Newscast
November 30, 2023

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What feminism is really about

In Friday’s BGNews, Danielle Winters’ asked, “How much more emancipated can [women] get?” in her column entitled, “Does feminism need a revamp?”

While Winters poses a meaningful question, the entirety of her column was void of any meaning beyond her own limited opinion.

Her concept and understanding of feminism is sorely lacking in research and I fear that she has presented feminism, and the true nature of a feminist, in a very dim and unacceptable light.

What could we possibly want to be emancipated from?

According to national statistics provided by the Women’s Center at BGSU, every nine seconds a woman is battered in the US. Every minute a woman is raped. The American Medical Association has declared domestic violence an epidemic.

One in three women will be victims of domestic violence in their lifetime. Bowling Green is not immune to this epidemic. Several hundred domestic violence arrests are made in Wood County each year and this calculation does not account for the 53 percent of women attacked by their partners that do not report it to authorities.

The Cocoon Shelter, opening soon in Bowling Green, is an example, not only of the problem that exists, but of the solutions that arise when women and men recognize these problems and try to mend them.

The men and women who have worked on this project are feminists.

The Vagina Monologues strives to emancipate women and men from cultural objectification of women as vessels for male gratification, while also celebrating the many facets of feminine sexuality.

It is a production based on the lives of women from diverse backgrounds and while not every monologue is appeasing to every individual, it would be rather far-fetched and inhuman to believe that every human being could not identify and benefit from some dimension of the show.

The Vagina Monologues 2005 at BGSU raised over $7,000, all of which will go directly to The Cocoon Shelter. Those who worked to raise that money are feminists.

VALE is a committee of dedicated students who recognize the significance of a Victim Advocate at BGSU. The Victim Advocate is a woman professionally trained to educate others about preventing sexual and domestic assault in the city of Bowling Green, and most importantly, someone who supports survivors of these horrifying rape and domestic violence statistics.

Despite the fact that the Government and University could not fund this position, members of VALE continue to prevail in fund-raising enough money to pay the Victim Advocate’s modest salary because they recognize the absurdity of a college campus that does not provide support for its sexually active and statistic-sensitive students. The members of VALE are feminists.

What could women possibly want to be emancipated from?

In Imagine a Country, Holly Sklar reports that, “Women working full time earn 76 cents for every dollar men earn.”

“Women don’t pay 76 cents on a man’s dollar for their education, rent, food or childcare. In this country discrimination against women is pervasive from the bottom to the top of the pay scale, and it’s not because women are on the mommy-track … At the same level of management, the typical woman’s pay is lower than her male colleague’s–even when she has the exact same qualifications, works just as many years, relocates just as often, provides the main financial support for her family, takes no time off for personal reasons, and wins the same number of promotions to comparable jobs.”

What’s worse, mothers who are in the labor force have considerable trouble finding adequate and affordable child-care and after-school programs for their children.

It seems that Danielle Winters has all-too-quickly embraced the myth of the wonder-woman, “power-lunching, family-running women.”

The February 21 issue of Newsweek explores “Mommy Madness” and why the current generation of got-it-all mothers feels so insane. Judith Warner, a full-time working mother herself, writes about the “choices” of today’s 20-30-40 something woman.

More or less, “They can choose to pursue professional dreams at the cost of abandoning their children to inadequate child care or they can choose to stay home with their children and live in a state of virtual, crazy-making isolation because they can’t afford a nanny and because there is no such thing as part-time day care.”

These are not choices. “They are the harsh realities of family life in a culture that has no structures in place to allow women–and men–to balance work and child-rearing” stated Warner,

Susan B. Anthony, a mother of First-Wave Feminism, once said, “The fact is, women are in chains, and their servitude is all the more debasing because they do not realize it.” Certainly, we have come a long way from mid-nineteenth century when feminists recognized the necessity of voting rights, and Danielle Winters is correct: it is superb.

But to ask what we, as feminists, are trying to emancipate ourselves from, while disregarding the continuing violence and discrimination against women of many races, colors and creeds to this day, is a step in the wrong direction.

The only revamping that feminism needs is the raw honesty of every human being and the willingness to admit that oppression will persist until the oppressor recognizes the problem.

The problem isn’t feminist T-shirts and pins and vagina-talk the problem is a lack of empathy from those who do not know the facts.

Bowling Green State University provides an excellent Women’s Studies program to all students. feminism is a complicated notion with a complicated history.

Perhaps those that believe feminism is only about radical anger or men-bashing should submit themselves to Intro to Women’s Studies 200 or feminist Theory 302 where they can organize their opinions on a factual basis.

Certainly, all feminists are hopeful. Beyond the grief and disillusionment that knowledge of inequality and oppression bring, feminists have a deeper wisdom in themselves, and in more cases than not, they act on this knowledge in positive and fulfilling ways.

Send comments to Elisabeth at [email protected]

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