Guest column: 2018 without feminism — a dystopia (opinion)
January 23, 2019
What would have happened if each wave of feminist movements never emerged in America and the world?
What would have happened if women like Alice Walker, Sojourner Truth and Mary Edwards Walker had not fought for their rights in their respective times?
The world as we know it now would not be the same.
Nowadays we live in a society where injustice toward women persists despite the fact that by law women and men have the same rights, obligations and responsibilities. Where even though human trafficking and slavery are illegal, we keep seeing cases of these acts.
We live in a society where there are still acts of discrimination against people of color and women. It seems that instead of moving toward an idealistic society, we are twisting toward the past.
But despite all these injustices, we live in a better society than the 19th century.
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Back then women and people of color had very few rights, they were exploited in the workplace and the rules were unfair. Women and people of color had no rights and were only used as objects.
There were too many barriers to achieve the same rights as a white man, and one of those barriers was the mediocre thinking that white men were superior.
A 2018 without feminism would been a dystopia — a world stuck with the social norms of the 19th century. It would have been the illusion of an unjust and unhappy era.
Or maybe 2018 would have been the beginning of a feminist movement, where as women we would have started to protest where we would have been brutally beaten for trying to make a change, and where we would have even been killed or sacrificed voluntarily for the cause.
It's uncertain what 2018 would have looked like without the preceding century of feminism, but what is a fact is that our would not be anything like what we know now.
The first wave of feminism began in the late 19th century, which focused mainly on gender equality, property rights and overcoming legal obstacles. The main activists of this wave were: Mary Edwards Walker, Susan B. Anthony, Lucy Stone, Elizabeth Candy Stanton and Sojourner Truth, who is recognized for being a color woman, abolitionist and activist for women's rights. The second wave began in the 1960s and lasted until the '90s. In this wave they fought against social inequality, sexuality, family, place, work and reproductive rights. The search for social and cultural equality was sought.
The outstanding activists of this wave were: Alice Walker, Gloria Steinem, Simone Beauvoir, Betty Friedan and Kate Millet, influential writers of the movement. The third wave began in 1990 and extends to the present, focusing on micro politics and challenging the concept of what is good or bad in response to the failures of the second wave and promoting an equitable society. If brave women like Sojourner Truth, Alice Walker and Mary Edwards Walker had not started a revolution in their time, the women of our time would have less value, they would be forced to live under the ideals of patriarchy.
The woman would have no voice or vote, her freedom to choose would not exist. The woman would be exploited and harassed, oppressed and trampled constantly.
Women would be forced to behave and dress in a certain way. They would be exposed to violence more easily and in cases of being physical attack or rape by some man or their own husband, there would be no repercussion toward the aggressor because after all the woman would not have any rights.
She would be seen as an object and would be treated worse than an animal.
Without feminism, not only would women be affected, perhaps also people of color too. Without the feminist movement supporting abolitionism the help would have been less, and perhaps the process for its triumph would have been longer.
Currently within the U.S., approximately more than 50 percent of people are women. This means that more than half of the American population would live without rights, under inhuman and unhappy circumstances.
Without feminism our society would be a replica of the past and a dystopia in which no person with values would want to live in.
The impact of feminism on society has achieved great changes for the better, opening new doors and breaking barriers that prevent a just society. We may not live in a completely fair society, but the changes acquired have been in exchange for great sacrifices, sacrifices that women and men who believed in the movement made.
Feminism opened and will continue to open doors toward an idealistic society where we are all equal and there is no reason to be ignorant and intolerant.
As a society we sometimes take for granted all the privileges and opportunities that we have and even come to judge the feminist movement, believing that it was and is a meaningless struggle.
But the truth is that not all women have the same rights and privileges as we do in society. In some countries the mentality of the 19th century persists and there are still women who struggle for freedom.
Sometimes we lack empathy and we become ignorant. If we were them, if we had been a woman who fought to have a better life, would we still judge and mock?
If in 2018 the feminist movement had not existed and you were a woman, what would you have done, how would you have felt?
"Let the generations know that women in uniform also guaranteed their freedom" – Mary Edwards Walker.
Vasti Aranda is a writer for The 1974, Lake Tahoe Community College's student newspaper.
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