We're suffering under the mass delusion that women in America have achieved equality. ...We're basking in a "girl power" moment that doesn't exist -- it's a mirage of equality that we've been duped into believing is the real thing.
Because despite the indisputable gains over the years, women are still being raped, trafficked, violated and discriminated against -- not just in the rest of the world, but here in the United States. And though feminists continue to fight gender injustices, most people seem to think that outside of a few lingering battles, the work of the women's movement is done.
Valenti mainly focuses on violence against women, on the streets, in households, and in the military. She also discusses the insidious viewpoint that women should be happy to be making three-quarters a man's salary, since it allows us to have "personal fulfillment." I would go one step further than Valenti in some places: Not only have we stopped making progress, but there are some areas in which we're sliding backwards. As she points out:
The distressing statistics don't stop with violence: Women hold 17 percent of the seats in Congress; abortion is legal, but more than 85 percent of counties in the United States have no provider; women work outside the home, but they make about 76 cents to a man's dollar and make up the majority of Americans living in poverty.The problem with these statistics is not just the distressing proportions, but that these are areas where women have largely given up the battleground. We still consider violence and sexual assault to be important fronts for progress, but it seems to me that in recent years, women have backed off equal pay, political representation, and privacy as personal agendas. In the face of our indisputably growing equality, we've become complacent about fighting for it:
We act as if the hatred directed at women is something that can be dealt with by a stern talking to, as if the misogyny embedded in our culture is an unruly child rather than systematic oppression. Yes, women today fare better than our foremothers. But the benchmarks so often cited -- the right to vote, working outside the home, laws that make domestic violence illegal -- don't change the reality of women's lives. They don't prevent 1 million women from being raped, female troops from being assaulted or the continued legal discrimination against gay and transgender people. And seriously, are American women really supposed to be satisfied with the most basic rights of representation? Thrilled that our country has deigned to consider us fully human?I'd love to know what you think about this article. I find many of her points compelling, but I would add two elements. One: There's nothing wrong with celebrating how far we've come, as long as we keep an eye on the horizon. Two: There are some areas, such as family planning access and salary equality, where women have a real danger of sliding backwards if the new generation doesn't act. What do you think?