Last week, I listened to a radio talk show host try to open a discussion about whether or not feminism was done. Do we really need it anymore?
The host tells us women to be careful of what you wish for, having to work and all that. Then he asks women to call in to answer this question: If you could stay at home and not work, would you?
Would I? Yes, but I am not independently wealthy. I think if you asked the men in the audience the same question the answer is a resounding yes. But that is not the point here. This question does not truly answer if feminism is no longer a worthwhile platform in our country or the world. It is a boondoogle at best.
What the radio host assumed was that men would keep their end of the bargain. They would go to work and support the family. But what this man
does not account for is the man who does not stay, who would rather drink and beat up his wife before making the final exit. Or go live in another state so he could not be found to pay child support.
My mother tells a story about looking for a job after my biological father left. The person who was looking at her application told her he was going to do her a favor and not hire her so she could spend more time with her children. Her response was bitter and angry but truthful. “I’ll remember that when my children are starving.”
The boss man and the above radio host assume women work because they want to, because their soul needs something more to be emotionally fulfilled. And while I am sure some do, the majority does not. Others work because they have mouths to feed and bills to pay. Children need clothes and school supplies, a roof over their head and milk in the refrigerator. Or maybe they want a better lifestyle than in which they grew up.
Feminism has made it easier for my generation to become doctors and lawyers. We can earn good money and support our families. The women who come up behind us see a country that now has 17 women in the U.S. Senate and 3 women on the Supreme Court. That was not the case when I was in my 20s.
The tenets of feminism will never be dead and useless as long as there are women suffering abuse as they do in Iran. Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani has been sentenced to 99 lashes because a picture of her without the scarf covering her face was published in TIME magazine.
Her son, Sajjad Ghaderzadeh, has written an open letter seeking justice.
“My mother has been called in to see the judge in charge of prison misdemeanors and he has sentenced our helpless mother to 99 lashes on false charges of spreading corruption and indecency by disseminating this picture of a woman presumed to be her [Sakineh] without hijab,” he wrote according to a Sept. 4, 2010 CNN report.
This same woman is facing a death sentence for adultry. I wonder if her partner in that crime was given any sort of punishment. I wonder if any male participants in adultry in Iran are charged and punished.
When I hear of these tales from lands that act as if a woman does not matter and is only good for keeping the house, that if only they would stop being frivilous and disrespectful to their husbands there would not be domestic violence, I thank God for feminism. I thank God that other women fought for my right to work outside of the home, to go to school, to not have to stay in an abusive marriage.
But then I pray to God that those women in other places will someday have the same rights that so many women in our country currently take for granted.