Good news feminists – patriarchy is officially over! At least that’s what Hanna Rosin argues in her article entitled, The Patriarchy is Dead. Unfortunately, it seems that the ‘new American matriarchy’ that she describes in this piece is not an accurate description of the average woman’s experience. By saying that patriarchy is a problem of the past, Rosin is actually hurting the efforts of women who are working to achieve real gender equality.
In my eyes, Hanna Rosin’s denial of the existence of patriarchy proves how essential feminist discussion is. As I mention in my own feminist manifesto, the sexism that persists today can be difficult to recognize because it’s getting more subtle. No longer can companies post ‘women need not apply’ on job postings, but women are still passed over for positions because they are perceived as less dedicated to the job or wouldn’t fit into the boy’s club atmosphere. Growing up in a patriarchal society makes us accept gender roles and expectations as the norm, so feminists need to question those norms to recognize when those gender roles are hurtful to women.
Rosin’s argument seems flawed because she views women’s issues through the lens of her own experience, which I would not say is a reflection of society as a whole. In this article, she explains how her decision to work fewer hours after having a child was solely motivated by her desire to spend time with her children, not because she was pressured by her husband or because she felt she was fulfilling a duty. While I am happy that Ms. Rosin was able to make an empowered choice in that moment of her life, this is not the case for all women. Many women feel pressure from their employers who assume their dedication to their jobs to decrease, while others feel pressure from their families to raise their children a certain way. Rosin admits that this decision was extremely difficult for her, a complicated and confusing time in her life that led her to sink into a ‘terrible depression’. Her struggle demonstrates the problem – achieving a work-life balance is a still a challenge for women, and only for women. Men are rarely torn between furthering their career and fulfilling familial and societal expectations. Until women have this same freedom, feminists need to continue talking about it.
Photo of Nathalie Kosciusko-Morizet (left) and Anne Hidalgo (right) – Photo from Jezebel.com
For the first time in the city’s 2000 year history, Paris will have a female mayor in 2014! The two most prominent political parties have announced their candidates for the mayoral race, and both parties selected female politicians to represent their parties in this important election. These two women are not only vying for the highly respected position of mayor of Paris, but they are also battling it to for a place in history as the first female mayor of Paris. The significance of this election is not lost on candidate Nathalie Kosciusko-Morizet, who recognizes the profound impact that this election will have on women in french politics.
Being the first female mayor of Paris will be a big symbol and a very positive sign for women who wanted to go into politics but who daren’t go into it in the past. Paris is ready for such a change and I’m sure that France could one day elect a woman as president.
This week, Texas lawmakers passed a law that will force all but five of the state’s abortion clinics to close, severely restricting women’s reproductive freedom and ability to exercise their constitutional rights. Despite the protests of thousands of women nationwide and a heroic filibuster by Wendy Davis, the Texas legislature is going through with this unnecessary law and will undo years of progress in the fight for gender equality.
Also, George Zimmerman was found not guilty in the murder of Trayvon Martin. Although it seems that the jury made the right decision legally (the prosecution was not able to prove his guilt beyond a reasonable doubt), the country does not believe that justice has been served. No matter how you feel about this verdict, the case raises some serious questions about racial equality and the fairness of Florida law. Would Zimmerman have reacted differently if Trayvon were white? Would the jury have been so sympathetic towards Zimmerman is he were black? How can we be sure that our racial biases are not affecting our justice system?
If you’re like me, you’re probably frustrated that in 2013 we are still battling the same issues that our grandparents dealt with. Despite the enormous progress that has been made, our lives are still in many ways determined by our race and gender. Women are still fighting for their right to reproductive autonomy and a young black boy in a hoodie is still mistaken for a criminal. When will racial and gender inequality FINALLY be problems of the past? Despite these frustrating developments, I found two great videos this week that helped restore my hope for the future. Today’s world may still be divided by race and gender, but I believe that the next generation will have a different outlook.
“I’m rising on the floor today to humbly give voice to thousands of Texans who are being ignored”
In reality, Wendy Davis did much more than that – she stood up for women all across the country and proved that we will not sit idly by while state legislatures take away our constitutional rights. Wendy Davis is a democratic senator who spoke for 10 hours and 45 minutes on Monday to prevent the Texas state legislature from passing SB 537, a bill that would severely restrict abortion access. Her filibuster successfully prevented the legislature from approving the bill before their midnight deadline.
SB 537, if successful, would have severe consequences for women’s reproductive freedom. According to Pro-Choice Texas, this bill would ban all abortions after 20-weeks of pregnancy, one of the strictest restrictions in the country. Also, it would require that every abortion care facility comply with the standards of an “ambulatory surgical center”, an expensive requirement that would force all but five abortion clinics in the state of Texas to close. That means that some Texans would have to drive hundreds of miles to get to their nearest provider, a ridiculous and unnecessary burden.
The reproductive rights debate is making headlines again – this time the conflict is over the availability of Plan B and whether minors should be able to purchase this drug over the counter. Once again, women’s health is being overshadowed by political motivation and agendas in this conversation. Luckily, Judge Edward R. Korman of New York stood up for women’s health by rejecting the Obama administration’s attempts to undermine a ruling that would make Plan B readily available for all ages without a prescription.
Plan B, also referred to as ‘the morning after pill’, is a medication intended to to prevent pregnancy after having unprotected sex. When taken within three days, Plan B is 98% effective at preventing a pregnancy from taking place. The effectiveness of the drug diminishes rapidly over the course of those three days, so it is recommended that you take it within the first 24 hours for maximum protection. Since it is so imperative that this drug be taken quickly, requiring women to have a prescription is diminishing its effectiveness and putting women at risk of unplanned pregnancy. By requiring minors to see their doctor, we restricting the age group that needs this medicine the most.
President Obama was sworn into his second-term in the White House just four months ago, but the media is already speculating on possible candidates for the 2016 presidential race. Right now, there is one democrat who is on everyone’s list of potential front runners – Hillary Clinton. Could 2016 be the year that the United States finally elects a woman to its most powerful position? Some recent polls are indicating that a female commander-in-chief could be in our near future. I am hopeful and optimistic that 2016 will be a landmark election and the United States will finally join the list of nations with a female head of state.
Hillary Clinton already has strong support from her party; a Quinnipac poll of democrats reported that 65% said they would vote for Clinton if she decided to run in a presidential primary. It actually seems that American voters on both ends of the political spectrum are ready to elect a female president. A poll conducted by Emily’s List found that 86% of voters believe that America is ready to elect a female president, and 72% actually believe that it is likely to happen in the next election. This poll demonstrates a huge shift in thinking – Gallup has asked American voters every year if they would endorse a female candidate for president and as a nation, we were not always on board. In 1937, only 33% said that they would vote for a female candidate for president. Luckily, this percentage improved to 54% in 1958, 76% in 1978 and to 92% in 1999. It took a while, but the American people are finally recognizing women’s ability to succeed at all levels of government.
This week I had the awesome opportunity to hear Gloria Steinem speak at the Spring Gathering for Planned Parenthood of Southeastern Pennsylvania. This annual event brought together 500 people spanning four generations to celebrate the work and achievements of Planned Parenthood in the region. It was incredible to see the National Constitution Center full of women and men who are passionate about reproductive rights and Planned Parenthood’s mission. This group included Michelle Sanger, great-granddaughter of Margaret Sanger and Patricia Carbine, one of the founding editors of Ms. Magazine.
Gloria Steinem is a personal inspiration of mine and a role model for every young woman. If your not familiar with her story, Gloria Steinem is a journalist and political activist who became a leading spokesperson for the women’s liberation movement through her coverage of women’s rights issues. She was the founding editor and publisher of Ms. Magazine, a groundbreaking feminist publication that is still popular today. Along with other feminist leaders, she founded the National Women’s Political Caucus in hopes of expanding women’s involvement in politics. Gloria’s activism played an important role in popularizing the second wave of feminism and she has been a force in promoting reproductive rights for American women ever since.