How to argue for women’s rights because, yes, in 2018, we're still arguing
Commemorating the movement for women’s rights, International Women’s Day has been celebrated annually since the 1910 International Women’s Conference first established it 108 years ago. While this year’s theme is #PressForProgress, one of the more frustrating threats to progress is how much time women have to spend arguing for our human rights. Yes, it’s 2018 and we’ve made huge strides towards equality — but still, women find ourselves having to defend our need for equality as much as ever.
The facts behind gender inequality are staggering, but even equipped with this information, you’re bound to come up against those who just don’t get it — or just don’t want to. Whether you’re debating a dudebro over feminism, avoiding a fallout with ultra-conservative family members, or defending female-led activism to your girlfriends, chances are you often find yourself having to prove your point.
You may be at a loss for how to even assert your basic need for rights — and you’re not alone in feeling this way. So, what’s a girl to do when faced with defending her undeniable freedoms? We’re here to help you learn how to shut down those opposing arguments ASAP.
When they say “women already have equal rights.”
Any woman who doesn’t fit nicely into that straight, cisgender, white, Christian, able-bodied, and conventional-bodied, neurotypical world can quickly tell you this is a fallacy.
The fight for equality so often forgets these marginalized groups, and feminism that excludes intersectionality is often called “white feminism” because it only serves women who fit the aforementioned categories.
But even then, women whose privilege seems to get them on the same level as men still don’t have access to the rights they’re entitled. Their reproductive health is scrutinized, they still make pennies on the dollar to their male counterparts, they still endure gendered violence. And shockingly, the Equal Rights Amendment — an attempt to make gender equality protected by the Constitution — still hasn’t been passed, more than four decades after it was proposed. Equality? We think not.
When they say “feminists are angry man haters.”
Okay, let’s roll our eyes and get this one out of the way. We’re all familiar with the stereotype: The angry “feminazi” that doesn’t shave or wear makeup and who spends all her time screaming that all men are rapists.
Let’s kill this argument and never give it an ounce of power over us again. This stereotype is used to discredit those who fight for women’s tights. It says, “Look, they’re wrong, rabid, and impossible to reason with.” It’s a tactic used so we won’t be taken seriously.
The ultimate goal of achieving equal rights for women is not taking them away from men. And those that assume so simply reveal their own pro-man, anti-woman biases. Because, believe it or not, not everything is about men.
When they say “feminism is sexist.”
Please re-read the last sentence. Again, not everything is about men. This movement includes plenty of male allies, but men have never been at the center of it — not even as a source of vilification.
Feminism is the concept that all genders are equal and entitled to equal rights. Women and non-male identifying individuals are the ones who need help getting on the same footing as cismen. Since cismen are treated as the default gender, they don’t need help gaining this kind of equality and women don’t have the power to oppress them. The oppressed cannot oppress. It just doesn’t add up.
When they say “I’m a woman and I don’t need equal rights.”
Some women say they don’t want to be equal to men, stating that having increased financial responsibility or being forced to register for the military draft to be concerns. Some see gender inequality as an advantage in these situations, but they’d be forgetting all the ways in which the world is made more difficult for us as women.
Even if they were correct — and we ignored the violence, government regulation, and economic issues that impact women — the push for equality is societal, not just individual. If an issue doesn’t personally impact you (especially because of your privilege), that doesn’t mean it doesn’t affect millions of others. No one loses when things are equal, but so many are robbed when equality is denied.
Without a doubt, there are countless arguments you may hear against women’s rights simply because haters are gonna hate. Still, if you can knock down every baseless argument they set up, then you’ll find yourself hearing less and less of them. Yes, it gets frustrating, but a good cause is worth a little aggravation, and there’s no better cause than equality.