Chances are, you know a postfeminist, or maybe you are one yourself. Postfeminism is the belief that feminism has already done its job and is no longer needed. It is easy to fall into this line of thinking. After all, women have made amazing gains in the past century. They can now vote, work, go to college, and use birth control. They are no longer legally considered their husband’s property. The idea that women are intellectually inferior has been disproved. Life is pretty good for your average American woman. So what’s the feminist fuss about?
The problem with postfeminism is that it fails to acknowledge the effect of socioeconomic factors on women’s ability to exercise their legal rights. A good example of this is the “I Don’t Need Feminism” campaign, which is fairly well-known on the internet. Many women have submitted their reasons for not needing feminism, which generally fall into several categories:
I’m not oppressed and it’s insulting that you are suggesting I am!
If you do not feel oppressed, congratulations. That is great for you. You are privileged and should feel lucky – this means that feminism has made some great achievements that enable you to live the way you currently do. However, many women ARE suffering from oppression, in the US and worldwide.
Chivalry is a code of honor in which men are expected to extend certain courtesies to women. It is almost exclusively a male-to-female system, which means it is sexist. Just because it supposedly “benefits” women does not mean it is an acceptable practice. Why can’t we all just get some manners and be polite to everyone?
If you know a woman in a STEM field, or in politics, or any other male-dominated field, that’s great, but it is hardly evidence against the need for feminism. Everyone learns this in their high school science classes: anecdotal evidence is not real evidence.
Because I love my man!
Seriously? You still believe that feminists hate men? You realize that there are many heterosexual feminists who also love men, right? If not, you have been hit awfully hard by the conservative propaganda train.
Feminism has, indeed, achieved many of its goals! However, as it makes advancements for women, it creates new goals to work toward. Today, feminism overlaps with queer theory, focusing on issues of sexual orientation and gender expression, as well as the rape culture that causes us to ask “What was she wearing?” when we hear about a sexual assault in the news. In addition, many women around the world do not enjoy the same rights that American women do. To say that feminism is over, is to say that these women’s rights do not matter, and that gender and sexuality are non-issues. Being privileged does not give you the right to minimize the struggle of others. If you are privileged, you should feel morally obligated to help those who aren’t. Everyone has the right to agency and autonomy.