The fourth wave – let discrimination be washed away

Malin Rackles, Staff Writer

Thousands of girls all around the world watched the Kavanaugh trial, watched a female intellectual accuse a white politician of sexual assault and they watched how the Supreme Court of the United States did not even think these allegations were enough to investigate further and voted him onto the court. Statistically, one third of these girls themselves had experienced sexual assault and every single one suddenly had a lump in the throat. And people ask me why I am a feminist? Make fun of me because I am? We got the right to vote. Right? If that was only enough. In our century, fighting against discrimination that are so less obvious is harder than it was 30 years ago. That doesn’t make them less important or relevant. The discriminations are harder to spot, but they are still everywhere.

We still need feminism today, as much as we needed feminism twenty years ago. It is not an old movement, it develops with the inequalities that need to be overcome. We need it because of all the still remaining legal inequalities, the discriminating mindset that is so hard to overcome and because of the other half of the population – men – finally has to profit too.

It is unacceptable that in our “modern” society women still have to face so many legal discriminations or de jure inequalities. The Wage Gap is a phenomenon that describes the wage difference between men and women. According to the Institute For Women’s Policy Research that women get 82.8 % of the wage a man earns for the same job. It is harder for women to get leadership positions in comparison to men, Forbes’ study finds only a tenth of most senior roles were filled with women, and from the Fortune 500 CEOs only 25 are female. Perpetrators of sexual harassments are often not sentenced appropriate to their crime. Although we did have a positive development and most of the discriminating laws are outlawed, we still face a lot. And in other parts of the world, the fight is still in the beginning stages and needed more than ever. Saudi Arabia gave women the right to vote in 2013, but they are still not allowed to drive. So women in the world don’t all have the same opportunities yet and all of them still have to fight against judicial inequality.

But what makes this fight against inequality so difficult in the US is the discriminating mindset, the de facto inequalities. It is horrifying to see how deep gender rules and expectations of the society are in our mind. Women are expected to take their husband’s last name after marriage, are often victim shamed after sexual assault and “female” characteristics are still either used as an insult or connotated weakly or negatively. Young girls in our society have the feeling that their worth is determined by their appearance, which is a trend that cannot be seen with men so clearly. It is obvious that these inequalities are “privileged” discriminations and that we notice them and try to fight them is a result of the fourth wave of feminism that started in 2012 in the Western world. Many countries are not so lucky to be in this wave yet, but that doesn’t mean that we are done fighting and protesting.

After three relatively successful waves of feminism, finally the media and leaders of the movement talk about men’s role in the fight. Of course men should be fighting for women’s rights just for the sake of equality, but not only that. Men can benefit hugely from feminism. We need feminism because of men themselves. Because of the gender roles in our society and female connotation to characteristics and conduct men face a lot of pressure and de facto inequality. They are pushed into a certain way to style or dress and also into certain behaviors. Men should not show emotion, and the mental distress that affects is great. Men commit about 1.8 times more suicide than women according to WHO. This can be traced back to the urge to suppress feelings and the expectations of society. Women in the last century overcame some of those stereotypes and it is normal now to see them in skirts, playing soccer or not wearing makeup. But when men wear skirts, dance ballet or wear makeup, there still is abnormality connected to that behavior because it just is not common. They also face judicial inequality especially in family and custody cases. That is horrendous, and feminism can help overcome female and male expectations and gender roles of our society.

Many people speak out against feminism today and they claim that feminism is outdated, because if we really wanted equality we would support the movement “gender” and not feminism. They say the term itself excludes men and thus cannot lead to total equality. That is a valid objection and “gender” is definitely a movement that is needed and should be supported. But it can exist parallely to feminism. Of course we need a movement that concentrates on the equalization of all genders, but we also need a movement that concentrates on the female part of the society and one that concentrates on the male part of society, which also doesn’t exclude that the other part can profit from both movements.

To conclude, we need feminism. And masculinism. And gender. But also feminism, which is a movement that definitely is not outdated or “old-school” only because what it is fighting against is a lot more subtle and hidden than it used to be. We still have de jure inequalities, we still have this very present mindset that enforces gender roles. Women all over the world face discrimination and inequality, some women more than others. And a topic that is fairly new to be talked about within the movement is how men are negatively affected by female gender roles. There are new problems and a new generation to fight against it. A new wave. And this wave can only be powerful if all waters unite to push against the many inequalities of our society.