Gender inequality rampant
RE: Feminist movement of the present trapped in irrelevance, Jan 19
In the counterpoint section of this past week’s topic “Feminism in the 21st Century”, Barbara Ciochon argued that the feminist movement is now “trapped in irrelevance.” However, her view of feminism is narrow and, at times, deeply flawed. Due to the format requirements of this letter, I am forced to limit my response and leave certain points unmentioned.
Ciochon’s claim that feminists condemn women who want to stay at home is an unfortunately common misconception. The main idea behind feminism is that women should be able to exercise their right to choose their own path in life. Feminism has many different branches (not just “radical”), however the idea of choice is central to all, whether it is about career, behaviour, or what to do with your body.
Another point brought up in this article was the issue of the gendered pay gap. Although the statistic is correct, Ciochon seems to believe that a woman earning 93 cents to every dollar a man is earning is not an issue (based on a statistic looking at individuals working full-time, with no special allowances). Until men and women are matched dollar to dollar, it impossible to claim that feminism is irrelevant.
Feminism is not about being anti-men or mass bra-burnings (which, check your facts, never happened) and there should be no question is still relevant today. Between the objectifying images of women in pop culture, the economic discrepancy and the injustices that occur every day through violations of reproductive rights and gendered violence, it is evident that feminism is still an important in the 21st century.
Reading this week’s Cord, I was incredibly impressed with the “Feminist dialogue as important as ever in modern times” part of the Point/Counter-point article. The contributing author, Joseph McNinch-Pazzano, is likely the most knowledgeable and intelligent writer on your staff.
His articles are always well written and well researched, his opinions are always clear and fair and his arguments are always valid and sound. Joseph’s articles are the only reason I don’t completely disregard the Cord as utter bullshit. He should be commended for such quality work.
I am confounded and discouraged by Ms. Ciochon’s interpretation of the current role of feminism.
The feminist movement is not trapped by irrelevance, but forging ahead into a foggier world where the entrenchment of patriarchy is all the more insidious for its lack of being recognized; this is due partially to those who believe that there “was a time” and that this time has somehow ceased to be now.
Feminism never was and still is not a mere preoccupation with parading/burning our discarded undergarments (although they were stolen from women on this very campus and displayed in public during the “panty raids” – one reason for the development of the Women’s Centre, now the Centre for Women and Trans People*).
This movement is about recognizing the many conceptions of feminism; it is every individual’s responsibility to determine how to best take responsibility for creating a world where gender equity is possible. This is contrary to her notion that feminists paint all women with the same brush; she seems to be painting feminists with her own brush.
The time for feminism is now, because women do not get equal pay for equal work –as Ms. Ciochon revealed herself, but didn’t challenge. The time for feminism is now and the place is here (not only in some vague ‘other’ place where women are “actually oppressed”).
If someone approached me and said, “you’re oppressed, let me liberate you,” I would be insulted that she should assume to know what my experience of oppression is and liberty should be, particularly if she assumed herself “free.”
This response is to help Barbara Ciochon understand what feminists are fighting for and why. We found it strange that Ciochon looked to the Womyn Centre at the University of Windsor instead of looking closer to home at what the WLU Centre for Women and Trans People*, (formerly the WLU Women’s Centre) is doing.
We are surprised that there is any question why we continue to fight for gender equality. While we question the integrity of the stats used by Ciochon to determine the pay gap between men and women, by Ciochon’s own findings, a gap still exists. While she fails to critically analyze the gender inequalities that contribute to this pay gap, it remains evident that there is continued inequality in the workplace. Unless Ciochon believes that women truly deserve 93 cents for doing the same job a man gets paid a dollar for, we fail to understand how she sees no inequality. We would also like to challenge Ciochon’s archaic notions of feminism and femininity.
Feminists do not have a problem with women who choose to stay home and raise a family. We believe that all women should be entitled to dignity, safety and respect, for sex workers and stay at home mothers—for everyone regardless of their gender identity. As feminists, we fight for access to safe and respectful healthcare, for affordable childcare, for equal pay for equal work, for safe working environments (for all women), and for safety on this and all university campuses.
—The WLU Centre for Women and Trans People*