Kirby Davis, Entertainment Editor
I’ve mistaken a lot of real headlines this year for Onion articles (my favorite being “Chelsea Clinton accuses Bannon of ‘fat shaming’ Sean Spicer”).
But none have unsettled me, recently, as much as one published on The Odyssey Online: “I’m the Girl Who’d Rather Raise A Family Than A Feminist Protest Sign.”
Though the author claims she is “deeply thankful” for the women before her who fought for her rights today, the rest of her article begs to differ. Her argument, that feminism is “dividing our sisterhood” and shames females who choose domesticity over careers, while trying to force women to pursue the latter, is ignorant.
It was irritating to hear a guy freshman year tell me he really understood Hillary Clinton’s struggle, because he’d taken an Intro to Women’s Studies class, and a friend this year tell me he wished he could experience period cramps so he could empathize.
It was disconcerting to hear a guy I’d been hooking up with this year tell me abortion was “unconstitutional,” and that should I become pregnant and have one, he’d never speak to me again.
It is disappointing, but not at all surprising, to see male politicians, athletes, other public figures and fellow college students regularly undermine feminist efforts.
But it is disheartening, and borderline devastating, to see young women fall prey to the same misogynistic misconceptions. This Odyssey article is not the first I’ve seen, and though it was longer trending this weekend, a similar one (titled “I’m an 18-Year-Old Female and Will Never Be a Feminist”) was.
There’s nothing wrong with aspiring to be a homemaker and a stay-at-home mother. My own mom took on these roles until I was in middle school, and I respect her more than anyone. I’d potentially like to assume these roles someday, too.
It’s a choice — one I’ll make in the very distant future. The crucial point that these Odyssey articles miss, and their authors seem to misunderstand, is that becoming a stay-at-home mother wasn’t always a choice; it was an inevitability. The reason it’s a choice today is because of feminism.
Understanding what feminism really is — not forcing women to make certain choices, but ensuring that they have the right to make them in the first place — is more important now than ever. It’s irresponsible on these Odyssey writers’ parts to not only misconstrue the meaning of feminism for themselves, but to spread it to countless other girls who will either feel justified in believing the same falsities, or impressionable ones who will buy into them. And it’s irresponsible to pretend that we no longer need to fight for female rights and equality, just because we, personally, may not be suffering at the moment.
Just this week, the Trump administration continued to enact blatantly misogynistic legislation. The House passed a bill that criminalizes post-20 week abortion, and Trump approved new standards that will permit employers to drop birth control from employees’ insurance plans, if they claim to be religiously or morally opposed to contraception. Universities can also now deny students birth control for these reasons.
But studies show that conservatives’ classic argument of fetuses feeling pain at 20 weeks has no evidence to back it up (actually, there’s evidence directly undermining it). And birth control isn’t just used for contraception. The pill can also help alleviate menstrual cramps and treat endometriosis, polycystic ovarian syndrome and generally make periods more bearable. And, despite what men’s rights Twitter activists will tell you, it does not come cheap without insurance — the pill can cost up to $50 a month, and an IUD up to $1,000.
A lot of men don’t seem to understand concepts like these, which means it’s our job to teach them — or at least to try. But this isn’t a war that can be waged successfully on two fronts; we shouldn’t have to put time and energy into convincing other women that believing in their own rights are important, or continue to spread the false belief that feminism is some dangerous, radical notion.
I know that my friend, so eager last week to get his hands on a menstrual cramp simulator, would regret it once his imaginary uterus was contracting. And I imagine that the guy who preached to me last month about abortion violating the 14th Amendment might feel differently, had he gotten me pregnant. Or maybe not, but it wouldn’t matter, because in that situation, having an abortion would ultimately be my choice.
We can’t afford to be anti-feminist anymore because members of the Trump administration want to take this choice, and many others, away. And when females don’t believe in or fight for our own rights, it permits these men to do so.
Don’t make it easy for them.