By the time I came of age — in the late 1980s — the U.S. had already made plenty of progress on women’s rights, including the all-important rights to vote, to work, to own property, to birth control, and so on. Though I agreed with the basic tenets of feminism, I thought (and I was told) that the fight was over. But over time, it became obvious that misogyny is still rampant in our society and culture.
Mentally, I’ve organized types of sexism into categories: legal, systemic, economic/commercial, and attitudes/bias. Though the first type has been mostly eradicated, the others still exist and must be fought. From sports to paychecks, from products we buy to how we run our households, from our language to our healthcare, it’s more difficult (and often more expensive) to be a woman in the U.S., and this should not be.
For me, it comes down to very basic morality. Is it wrong that our culture goes overboard to make it more difficult to be a woman? Yes. If something is wrong, should I work toward and advocate for a solution? Yes. Since I’m a man, does it really affect me in any way? Actually, yes. Yes it does. Half the people I know are women and girls. Their lives are better today (relative to the lives of their ancestors) because of the improvements we’ve already made, and that makes my life better. My life is more enriched because my wife is educated, liberated, and employed. My life is better because my mother was educated. My life is better because my sisters got to choose their husbands, their occupations, and how many children they would have. And my life will continue to be better if my daughter has these opportunities as well.
It comes down to being a decent human being. Can we deny the problems exist? No. Will they go away if we ignore them? No. Will anyone’s mind be changed by my writing or talking on the topic? I don’t know. But I can hope.