Stop Using the Excuse That ‘Women Have Their Rights Already’

Photo © 2016 Reuters

These days, many people have begun expressing indifference or antagonism towards the feminist movement based on the argument that “women have already gained their rights.” Opponents to the contemporary Women’s Movement argue that there is no longer a need for ongoing, intense activism from feminists.

This rationale is flawed and dangerous given that women all over the world are still struggling with a wide range of challenges generated by gender inequity. Some of them include poverty, lack of education, and vulnerability to male violence. Yet many individuals argue that the presence of legislation like Title IX proves that women have gained their rights, thereby rendering ongoing political activism unnecessary and irrelevant in the contemporary world. Nothing could be further from the truth.

Read on to learn more about why Title IX is ineffective against persisting sexist attitudes:

Title IX Is Not Enough

When people argue that women have already gained equal footing with men, they oftentimes point to the law for proof. For example, some individuals argue that legislation like Title IX indicates that women have gained equality. While this law does challenge discrimination against women in the educational sector by making gender-based prejudice illegal, the existence of the legislation does not function as proof that sexism is no longer a problem.

Sexism continues despite the presence of Title IX for several reasons. One of them is the fact that the anti-discrimination legislation is not always enforced. As reported in the NY Times, the University of Southern California was accused of denying female students a fair chance to play sports in 1998. Yet thirteen years after the accusations were publicized, the federal agency responsible for investigating the sex discrimination charges had not completed its inquiry of the educational institution.

The Root Of The Problem: Patriarchal Values Remain Entrenched In Society

The failure of federal agencies to conduct thorough investigations regarding sex discrimination cases is not the only issue with Title IX. As many feminists have argued, the underlying problem is that sexist attitudes about women have not been challenged and condemned by society as a whole.

Cleary, many women’s rights agencies have challenged systemic sexism for decades. The emergence of battered women’s shelters and rape crisis facilities during America’s second wave era is proof of this. The ongoing attempts to pass legislation promoting gender equality such as the ERA also indicates that many people are actively working to challenge patriarchy on many fronts. Nevertheless, this activity does not indicate that the majority of people are willing to acknowledge and reject the sexism that function as the foundation of contemporary societies.

Evidence of this sexism abounds. As noted in LexTalk, women comprise ½ of the world’s population yet do 2/3 of its work for 1/10 of its pay. Women also own less than 2% of the world’s property. Additionally, the wage gap persists as American women make, on average, just 80% of their male counterparts one year following graduation. And 10 years after graduation, the gap increases to 69%.

These statistics tell the ugly truth about America’s willingness to maintain patriarchal values that privilege men while keeping women at risk for poverty. And as many feminists know, the economic vulnerability of women is a leading factor in their willingness to remain in unhealthy relationships with men. These relationships are frequently marked by emotional and/or physical abuse that damages the woman’s self-esteem while precluding her from leading a personally meaningful life. In addition to increasing the likelihood that women will maintain unhealthy relationships with men, our economic vulnerability also makes it more difficult for us to access resources (like education and property) that would enable us to raise children in safe, healthy environments.

Acknowledging Problems, Embracing Solutions

Once progressive people recognize the persistence of sexist values in contemporary society, it’s time to start talking about solutions. Luckily, there are many. One of them is volunteering with organizations that are committed to providing women with the resources and support necessary for them to realize their personal dreams and professional goals.

If you’re committed to making the world a more equitable place for women, you can partner with Live Your Dream right now. Together, we can cultivate a world where women have equal access to education, health care, and healthy relationships that promote a more productive, positive way of living!

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