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Georgia Wilcox: Yes
Ah, feminism. Who doesn’t love the age-old debate about removing the marginalisation of half of the worlds’ population? Feminism is quite often seen as women “over-reacting”, women being “dramatic over issues that aren’t important” and women “trying to be better than men”, which quite frankly, drives me insane. Feminism is about equality, the fact that the marginalisation of women is widespread and terrifyingly common. I’m no mathematician, but statistics such as, for every £1 earnt by a woman in the UK, their male counterparts gain an extra 9 pence. Doesn’t seem that significant right? Yet if a woman were on the average UK salary of £27,000, a man doing the exact same job would earn £2,430 more a year. The gender pay gap is merely a small illustration of why women are so frustrated, yet nobody listens. A recent survey found that only 7% of the UK identified as a feminist, only 7% of our country wanted women to be treated equally, thought women deserve the right to not be defined by their gender.
Mother nature doesn’t really help women’s causes. Every month or so, our insides throw a mardy because we didn’t give it a baby and destroy our uteri in a menstrual rage. But this comes at a cost: approximately £18,000 over the course of a lifetime, if you wanted to be specific. If we want to talk money, women are constantly targeted in the media, both online and print, to look a certain way, to eat certain things, to act like women “should”. And this pressure is unbearable for some women, some crease and give in to whatever mystical powers above, meaning that they buy the make-up, wear the designer clothes, and stay at home with the children, because “that’s what women do”.
All of this pressure begins at such an early age that we don’t even notice it. Babygro’s plastered with “I want to be a princess” or “Mummy’s little angel” compared to the “I want to be a superhero” and “Mummy’s little monster”. Girls are exposed from a very early age, to a barrage of toys, activities and even classes in some schools, to nurture what people claim to be the caregiver instinct – the instinct which has in fact been proven false. Science has proved, women are no more caring and empathetic than men, just as men are no more protective than women. But in a historically male dominated world, such ideas have been so embedded that the fight to get out of them seems almost impossible.
I can’t illustrate to you in only 500 words the true extent of the struggle that women globally face. I can’t tell you about the increasing levels of sexual harassment, physical violence and cat-calling that occurs each day. I can’t explain the unequal women in higher positions in the workplace, or the female minority in science led degrees. But hey, it probably wouldn’t be listened to anyway, for of course, I am only a woman. I’ll carry on going about my business paying the price for what is kept in my underwear…
Ezra James West: No
The job of 1st wave feminism in its address of the new rights and responsibilities of women was a necessity now fulfilled insofar as women are offered the same opportunities and pay as men. Equality of opportunity is eminently desirable since it allows the talents of each individual to manifest themselves, to the benefit of all. We are, in western society, as far as any other society in existence has come to this. And yes, we could reach a position where people are treated more fairly still. But interestingly enough, in the Scandinavian countries, where egalitarian measures have been taken further than anywhere else, the differences between men and women have increased, not decreased. This demonstrates that if men and women are left to make their own choices, equality of outcome will not establish itself. It can be brought about through tyranny, but at the expense of free choice.
2nd and 3rd wave feminism, however, were and are an extrapolation of a poor understanding of what 1st wave feminism was about. Feminism was not about making man and woman the same. Feminism was about allowing women the chance to prove themselves capable in the competition for goods alongside men. Radical feminism has taken the idea of equality of opportunity and run with it blindly on a post-modernist, Marxist quest for equality of outcome. It seems that radical feminists are so distraught at the still present differences between men and women that they would do away with competition and social hierarchies altogether, in a resentful bid to deny the truisms of fundamental biology.
Radical feminists argue that if men and women were relieved of their societal pressures to conform to gender specific roles then they would by free choice occupy all professions in equal proportion. Having observed that the free choice of men and women did not usher in the new era of absolute equality, they have taken the alternate route to fulfil their goal: societal gender pressure (the very thing they first campaigned against) to make men and women occupy roles in equal proportion. This is both anti-woman and anti-man. It is an attempt to morph individuals so that they may function in a utopian dream in which the nature of humanity can be overlooked and the “perfect” human can be created. This sort of desire has been observed in the past, and much to the now forgotten pain of both its exponents and subjects.
Men and women are very similar, but they are not the same. Whilst they share significant statistical overlap in their traits, there are fundamental differences both generally and at the extremes. Men, for instance, must be more caring than 85% of men to be as caring as the average woman, and this is why the most caring people in society are nearly all women, and consequently why nursing is a near-exclusively female profession. What is needed now is a conversation about how men and women can compete under the same rules without either becoming resentful of the other, and a movement towards a consensus that though men and women are different biological beings, each is necessary, and each is valuable.