An Ongoing Battle for Gender Equality

Many people hear the word feminism and automatically assume that it is anti-male. The individuals who believe that feminism is about females being better than males are uneducated, because feminism is actually about fighting for the equality of the sexes. It is the 21st century, and we still live in a patriarchal society. Gender inequality is a global issue and needs to be taken more seriously.

Recently, a pair of laws was proposed in Iran that would restrict women’s reproductive choices and essentially reduce women to “baby-making machines”. Information on contraception would be withheld and abortions would be restricted. Passing these laws would mean restricting women’s basic human rights to control over their own bodies. Furthermore, legalizing these absurd proposals would result in an increase in crime rate due to the very likely possibility that women resort to illegal abortions and buying contraceptives on the black market. A second bill would promote early marriages and make it almost impossible for women to obtain a divorce. The government is claiming that this would emphasize the traditional family values, especially that a woman is first and foremost a caregiver. Thankfully, Amnesty International denounced these proposals for the obvious reasons that the Iranian government fails to realize: Women are human beings who deserve their fundamental rights and should not be treated as objects whose sole purpose is to reproduce.

The memoir Reading Lolita in Tehran is the story of a woman, Azar Nafisi, who held secret meetings for her female students to come and discuss works of literature together. Their environment would not allow them to conduct these kinds of meetings in public. The social and political situation in Iran dictated the actions and choices of clothing of women. For example, they were required to wear headscarves and be entirely covered when in the presence of others. These black headscarves gave the false illusion of a conformity in Iran. Just because all these women looked the same, the government could believe that they had no unique identity and were unimportant. However, every single one of these women was unique and had her own background story. But these individual personalities only came to life inside Nafisi’s house during the secret meetings when the girls would remove their scarves. These women were only being oppressed to the extent that they allowed themselves to be. These literary gatherings were the extent of the fight against oppression from the girls. At least they did make some effort.

These are only two small examples on a much larger scale of the fight for gender equality. Those fighting for feminism fight for equality of the sexes, which is why anyone can be a feminist. There are so many issues to be addressed: birth control rights, choice of clothing, equal pay, and job discrimination to name a few. To truly have a modern society, we need to move away from these outdated ideals of male superiority.


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