Today I was, as usual, one of the last to leave my philosophy lesson. My teacher, another student and myself were all casually talking about The Da Vinchi Code, nothing too serious, when this happened:
Teacher: Are you a feminist?
Male student: No
Teacher: Well, you should be!
Now before anyone makes any assumptions, my teacher was male and the student is also my friend. He is articulate, thoughtful and caring, I've known him for seven years now, and I can honestly say I've never hear him say anything sexist. Yet why was it, that when he was asked if he advocated the view that women should have political, social and economic equality to men, he disagreed?
It's easy to think that feminism is no longer important whilst in the school environment. The suffragettes are studied in depth, as well as their achievements. There are both male and female teachers, and statistically, girls are far more likely to perform better in exams than their male counterparts. Recent headlines excitedly announcing that Saudi Arabian women have finally been given the vote make it easy to think that equality for women has been achieved worldwide. Once that has been achieved, feminism no longer has a purpose, it will be merely a statement, worth remembering, but not fighting for as it will already have been achieved.
But right now, women aren't on an equal playing field, whilst they can vote in the 2015 elections, Saudi Arabian women still can not drive. In Buthan and Lebanon, women must meet standards that men have no need to meet, such as proving that they have an elementary level of education and women can not vote at all in Vatican City.
Undeniably we should celebrate the progress Saudi Arabian women have made, but we shouldn't under-estimate the value of supporting rights for women until the 87% of Afghan women currently victims of domestic abuse, one in twenty-four Nepalese women who die in childbirth and the millions of women across the world raped every year as a vile weapon in war stops and women are truly granted equal opportunities and access to basic amenities will it be acceptable for any well-educated person to not be a feminist.