Women have been fighting for equality for over a century, and yet feminism is still controversial. Women are still marginalized. Many countries, including the United States, have roots in monotheistic religions, which base their laws and ruling concepts on religious texts such as the Quran or the Bible. These texts were written at a time at which male-dominance over women was a cultural norm.

There really is no reason for this trend to still exist. We live in a world where the value placed on brawn has shifted to a value on brains. The extra muscle won’t affect your likeliness to survive anymore, nor should it affect your salary — professional athletes and lumberjacks exempted. This shift to valuing our thoughts and social abilities over physical abilities should even the playing field for women. Women are equally capable of starting companies, creating medical advancements or running a country, but the amount of opportunities to do so, as well as the basic respect women receive, is significantly less than men. Whether subconsciously or consciously, women are being treated and taught that they are less than and therefore, should be subordinate to men. This thinking lets men think they are entitled to higher-ranking jobs, sex and power.

The disrespect and objectification women face day-to-day is excessively unequal to what men experience. (Mind you, I’m not saying men do not experience disrespect or objectification, only that women experience this on a larger scale and more often.) Just last year, a man by the name of Elliot Rodger killed six people and wounded 13 others to seek revenge on women who had “starved (him) of sex.” The shooting reminded women what they had to fear for rejecting a man — a fear that most men have never experienced when rejecting a woman. Shortly following the shooting, the hashtag #YesAllWomen erupted on social media. Women all over the world were coming forward with their experiences of being hurt by male entitlement. It was a powerful movement and encouraged feminist awareness and debates as a part of social media culture.

I can rant about feminism and why I think women are treated unequally, but chances are those who already agree will be the ones raising their fists with me, and those who already disagree will roll their eyes and tune me out. Instead, I would like to suggest that we begin to think of the feminist cause in a realistic manner, to allow for some gray along with the black and white.

Many feminists wonder why they face so much resistance. It would be easy to chalk it all up to men not wanting to give up their power, or dismissing “feminists” as women who simply hate men. While these may be contributing factors, in my experience, the primary objection to feminism is that it tends to imply that women’s rights violations are more urgent than any other disrespect or human rights violation. Feminists can make it sound like disrespecting a woman is a larger crime than disrespecting any man or any other human, regardless of race, gender or sexual identity.

Another critique used against the feminist movement is the generalizations that occur so often. This is the primary reason why the #NotAllMen movement was so popular. It gave men the voice to say “I’m sorry you were disrespected by a man, but it wasn’t my fault so this isn’t my problem,” or “I did something nice for a woman once, so I’m not disrespectful to women.” But these generalizations that are so strongly criticized by anti-feminist movements are very difficult to avoid. Just because a generalization has an exception, these exceptions do not eliminate the validity of the statement. Just because one man always asks for consent before having sex with a woman does not mean that all men do, and does not eliminate the fact that rape and sexual assault against women are far too common in our society.

As Nobel Peace Prize recipient Jody Williams said, “When we recognize equality, we are recognizing our common humanity.” Treating women as sexual objects is just that — treating them as objects or, in other words, not as humans. That should not be a cultural norm. Our daughters should not have to feel scared to be alone in a group of men; they should not have to apologize for voicing their opinions if disagreeing with a man; they should not be paid less for the same abilities and the same amount of work. These should also not be cultural norms. I’m not going to pretend that feminism is perfect, but feminism is important.

Brenna Beltramo is an LSA junior.

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