I have been exposed to many forms of feminism. Many different ideas, concepts, and situations have been brought to my attention, enabling me to formulate my own loose definition of feminism, and to take those concepts with me to utilize in my life as a woman in order to obtain the life I deserve.
To first understand feminism, one must be aware of the factors and forces that made—and still make—the fight for women’s rights such a relevant necessity. For example, women are mistreated and undervalued in athletics. Sharon Lennon, author of What is Mine, was taught this lesson young, as an excellent female softball player on a male team. After asking to play catcher in a game, the coach responded, “All right…but you’ll have to wear a cup” (Lennon, 215). This continues through less attention and money allotted to female teams, as well as fewer and lower-valued scholarships for female athletes.
In academics, women also suffer from sexism at the hands of sexist males in higher positions. In her essay High School Lowdown Miranda J. Van Gelder recounts numerous clear cut instances of such sexist acts as male teachers asking female students to lift up their skirts, making comments referring to the girls taking their ‘rightful place in the kitchen,’ and referring to girls by demeaning pet names (Van Gelder, 305). According to Myra and David Sadker’s “Failing at Fairness,” boys receive more challenging questions, more attention from the teacher, and more helpful feedback. From elementary through college, girls receive less and lower quantity instruction, fewer scholarships, and suffer economic penalties after college: ‘female’ jobs are poorly, while women in ‘male’ jobs are still paid less then men in the exact same jobs (Sadker, 90).
Inequality is clearly and painfully evident in the workforce. Twelve million women
work full time in jobs which pay below the minimum wage. White women received only 71.2% of a white man’s earnings as of 1995, while Hispanic and black women only made between approximately 53% and 64% of a white man’s salary (Wage Gap, 86). While women comprise up to 50% of professional employees, they hold less than 5% of the upper level and senior management positions. As Mary Mattis found out, “60% of human resource managers who participated in [her] study reported that putting women in line jobs was perceived as risky” (Lopez, 82). it can only be “perceived as risky” if they are considering women to be less intelligent or otherwise less capably endowed.
On a daily basis, women must also battle the dangers sexual abuse—verbal and physical. Inexcusable rapes and assaults go unpunished frighteningly often, or with mild consequences—even gang rape. A convicted rapist’s remark makes it ever so clear why women must fight the twisted mentality behind these crimes: “Most women like to get their box battered…they want to be grabbed and take hard. It makes them feel more like a woman…This time I just got unlucky and...