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COLUMN: Feminism activists still have progress to make

When I tell people I’m a feminist, the response is pretty scattered.

The most recent response I have gotten from people is, “We don’t need feminism anymore. We as human beings are all equals. It should be called humanism.”

Well, yes, this is very true, and I do agree with you. However, there are many very good reasons why we still need feminism in the 21st century, and why we cannot yet use the term “humanism.”

It all comes down to the system.

While theoretically, we as individuals may be able to look at each other and see fellow humans, the system is lagging behind. Misogyny and sexism are still prevalent in our society today.

For example, there is currently a nationwide movement to restrict women’s reproductive rights.

South Dakota is leading the charge with its ridiculously strict waiting periods for abortion, which do not include weekends and holidays on top of the 72 hours already required.

Regardless of your individual views on the matter, women have the right to make their own choices regarding what is best for themselves as individuals. The Supreme Court decided this in 1973 with its landmark case Roe vs. Wade.

A second example is rape culture. Rape culture is behind the idea that women are asking to be raped because of their clothing choices, amongst many other equally insidious victim-blaming tactics.

Men, when you see a woman in a short skirt, do you immediately pick her up, sling her over your shoulder, and carry her off to your man cave to have your way with her? No? I didn’t think so.

Doesn’t the idea that you are an uncivilized beast incapable of controlling yourself offend you? It should. That’s what rape culture is reducing you to.

As an undergrad I was attacked, harassed and threatened for addressing these same issues.

They attempted to slander my name with the some of the most misogynist, degrading language you will ever have the unfortunate experience of reading.

If there was no need for feminism, as many people claim, why is there such a vicious reaction whenever a woman, or anyone for that matter, points out the various levels of inequality still operating in our society?

Ultimately, the problem with using the word “humanist” is that such a word implies there is no need for a women’s rights movement whatsoever.

It implies that the system grants the same rights to women as it does to men.

It implies no one will ever be denied basic rights based on who they are and where they come from.

Unfortunately, we are still not there yet. Until we are, I will remain a feminist. I will continue to write about these issues and I will not stop until progress is made.

Follow diversity columnist Betsey Horton  on Twitter @ParisInSD