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  • Kathryn Patterson

A Look at Modern Feminism

Feminism - a word that brings up pictures of women burning bras while marching to get equal rights.  While we in the United States have moved forward in terms of the ability to choose what to do with our lives, we need to remember that we are the minority.  The vast majority of women in the world face horrors every day that boggle the imagination. This week in Pakistan, a 14 year old girl was shot for wanting to get an education.  Malala Yousafzai spoke out about the Taliban and their denial of education to girls in 2009, blogging for the BBC about her experiences.  Last year, Malala was nominated for the International Children's Peace Prize and she won  Pakistan's National Peace Prize.  But the Taliban did not approve of her participation in the movement to education women, and they sent Malala several death threats.  On Tuesday, they delivered on their death threats, and promised to try again if she lives. But there is more injustice out there.  Today is the United Nations' Day of the Girl;  they published a report called "Marrying Too Young, Ending Child Marriages" that documents the prevalence of child marriages in Third World countries.  One in three women are married before the age of 18, with some married as young as age six.   In 2011, there was an estimated one woman raped every 17 seconds in South Africa, and that number does not include the number of babies, toddlers, and preschool-aged girls raped.  You see, there is a pervading belief in some African countries that if a man has intercourse with a virgin, he will be cured of any disease, including HIV.  This belief has led to atrocities that I will not repeat here. The Democratic Republic of Congo is just as bad.  In 2011, the American Journal of Public Health released a report that estimates over 400,000 women were raped over a 12 month period in 2006-2007.  That works out to be 48 rapes per hour, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, for a 52 week stretch. In Russia, women are viewed as commodities.  In China, baby girls are not as valuable as baby boys, and now they have an excess of 35 million more men under the age of 25 than women.  In India, women from poor families in arranged marriages may still be burned to death by their in-laws if their dowry is not large enough or they do not produce a male offspring soon enough.  In Turkey, a woman will still be stoned to death by her family for being raped; the stoning to atone for her "sin" and restore family honor. So why bring up all this up?  Because this week I read an argument over whether or not various religious groups contained more misogynists or less misogynists that other groups.  Mind you, I felt embarrassed even reading this argument because the women were being hateful and distrustful towards men and treated the men on the threads in almost exactly the same manner that the self-same women complained about being treated. But then I started to think about it.  I started to think about how I take for granted my rights to get an education, from kindergarten to my bachelor's degree.  I also take for granted my right to own property, to drive a car, to walk wherever and whenever I want, to choose my own clothes, to choose when I had children, to have my own bank account, ...  More importantly, I have the ability to move through my society and not be afraid. And I began to wonder, how many women in America appreciate our rights?  How many of us understand the price paid to get our rights? But more importantly, where do we go from here?

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