Is Feminism ‘Sexism with a Skirt’? - Baltimore Post-ExaminerBaltimore Post-Examiner

Is Feminism ‘Sexism with a Skirt’?

Despite being known for his progressive views, Pope Francis has made his fair share of controversial and rather unfounded comments, rooted in sexism and patriarchy. His criticism is largely directed toward women, and his latest statements (read: rants) attempt to target the global feminist movement. He recently took a dig at feminism by calling it ‘sexism with a skirt.’

Despite trying to come across as progressive, the Pope surrounds himself with people like Jorge Mario Bergoglio, a cardinal from Argentina who likes picking on homosexuals and calling same-sex marriage as the ‘destructive aspiration of God’s plan.’ It’s clear that the higher-ups adopt progressive ideas when it suits them and dismiss them when it’s convenient.

The Pope’s sentiments gave many internet trolls with just enough fodder to throw feminism into disarray, discrediting its supportive role in representing the marginalized and oppressed segments of society. The world needed feminism back in the day, and it needs more of it now. It’s true that some people do take things to an extreme, case in point Zarna Joshi (we hope the Pope was taking a jab at people like her), but it isn’t fair to stereotype the entire movement as a bunch of women who cry wolf.

Feminism is one of the most important movements the society has ever undergone, and no, it isn’t exclusively pro-women. GS Diamonds rounded up seven reasons why it remains a necessity, and why the Pope needs to reassess his regressive views.

1) Wage Gap Is Still a Thing

The Press Association conducted a study in 2015 of earning men and women in their 20s and found that men were earning nearly £1,111 more than women. This discrepancy carries on over to the high earning, high pressure jobs which were inaccessible in the past, and the study found that women in their 30s earned less than £8775 than men. The study didn’t explain the causes of the gender gap. Another fact highlighted by the study is that by the time women reach their 60s, they will have earned less than $450,000 than men working the same job.

2) Courts Have Yet to Recognize the ‘No Means No’ Argument

While recent changes in laws surrounding rape are now beginning to punish criminals, victims still tend to get asked the same old question, “What were you wearing at the time of the assault?’ The question is often used as a justification by prosecutors and the public to downplay the seriousness of the crime, putting the blame on the victim instead. Until people realize and accept the “no means no” argument, feminism will continue to be the need of the hour.

3) Skewed Definition of Masculinity

Men are raised to believe in the skewed definition of masculinity and society expects them to conform to it. Young boys are taught to repress sensitivity and emotion because it is not ‘manly.’ This makes it almost impossible to treat men for mental illnesses such as depression and anxiety since they never seek help. As a result, the suicide rates in depressed men are increasing.

4) Body Image

The images we are exposed to on the internet push picture perfect sculpted bodies of both genders in our faces. If a person is unable to conform to such ‘lofty’ standards, they’re written off as less worthy and unapproachable. According to the ‘standard,’ men must have six packs while women should have tiny waists and large breasts. This twisted culture affects young people and teenagers the most, pushing people to the extreme to achieve these desired outcomes.

5) People Still Don’t Trust Men as Much as Women

Gender roles seem to be predefined when it comes to certain professions, in that, babysitting is still a big no-go area for men while women are virtually non-existent in construction jobs. Statistics also show that more women than men tend to be teachers. These predefined roles prevent people with different skill sets from flourishing in their chosen careers because they hit the ‘glass ceiling’ due to societal expectations.

6) Non-monogamous Women Are Described as ‘Sluts’

Men with multiple female sexual partners are described with positive terms such as ‘player’ and ‘Casanova’. Flipping the genders the other way round earns hostility from people, and they resort to malicious terms such as ‘slag’ and ‘slut.’ Until non-monogamous relationships by women are seen as less (or equally as) condemning than men, feminism will still be needed.

7) Forced Cultural Norms in Some Parts of the World

It is still a norm (and legal) in certain parts of the world to treat women as property, with no voice of their own. They are married off to strange men against their will and are denied the right to education. Honor killings are still common in some parts of the world, where a father brutally kills his own daughter simply because of suspicions that she’s been with another man.

 Feminism Thwarted Stereotypes and Introduced a More Equal Society

While things have clearly changed in our society for the better, we still need feminism. It is needed now more so than ever before. Social media hashtags are stirred into positive worldwide movements, including the #tystnadtagning in Sweden, #timesup in the US, and of course, the globally successful #metoo movement.

All these movements have been supported thanks to feminists worldwide, both men and women. Feminism can make a difference in a woman’s life, empowering her with the ability to say ‘no’ without facing the consequences from the higher ups. Women who are facing, or have faced, sexual harassment are now able to call out and punish their perpetrators.

When powerful and influential people like the Pope push unfounded statements, possibly due to lack of understanding or because they saw extreme cases of it, it doesn’t help the society in any way. It’s resoundingly clear that we still need feminism for gender justice, and it needs to be recognized and adopted by people from all walks of life.

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