How Privilege Blinds You From ‘Needing Feminism’

Have you ever noticed that the people who ‘don’t need feminism’ are almost exclusively either men or Caucasian straight women? I have personally met very few minority women in this generation who do not identify as a feminist. And do you know why? It’s because they see on a daily basis exactly why feminism is needed now more than ever. 

After the Women’s March on Washington, I saw numerous posts and tweets from women expressing their sentiments against the march. To them, feminism is an outdated idea that has already achieved what it initially set out to accomplish. Each of these posts are, when looking at the Facebook image, written almost exclusively by white women. On the page of a female preacher whom I greatly admire, I saw a repost from a woman, Brandi Goings Atkinson, on the March on Washington:

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While Atkinson does address the much needed aspect of global feminism, she still fails to see the necessity for feminism in the United States as well. While she may be able to defend herself and protect her family, the same can not be said of the women who live outside the white suburban neighborhoods, in the slums and the lower class urban areas. You need only to step outside your white suburban bubble to see this reality lived out daily.

The year I learned this harsh truth was the year I worked as a camp counselor at a summer camp which was filled with children from the nearby city, of which many were poor and African American. This is the story of one young middle school girl, who I’ll call Amanda for the sake of discretion:

Amanda lives in the poor part of the city with her grandma, because her mom couldn’t afford to raise her after getting pregnant young and the father leaving her with nothing. Amanda goes to a school that is under-funded and over-populated. The school cannot afford to pay teachers and administration well, and most good teachers and administration leave after a few years, worn down by the system. The teachers at this school, she explained to me, are frightened of the kids almost as much as the kids are. One day, a bully beat up her little brother. Protective of him, she proceeded to beat that bully up. She was expelled from that school, while the bully faced no charge. She then proceeded to get expelled from the other school too, for defending other family members, until she was in the worst school in the district. At this school, she told me she’s used to being objectified by the boys and she’s only in 7th grade.

This is why we need feminism. The fact that there are middle schools where young girls are already faced with catcalls, objectification, and rape is inexcusable. If there are still young single mothers abandoned thoughtlessly by the fathers, leaving the mother with the decision of abortion or dropping out of school young (since she doesn’t have enough money to raise the child), there is still a need for feminism. And I refuse to say I’m not a feminist when stories like this still exist.

Maybe you don’t need feminism. I know I don’t. In my life, I have faced little to no discrimination based on my gender. In fact, there are times where I feel I am favored for my feminine nature and sweetness.

But feminism isn’t for me and it isn’t for you.

Feminism is for all the sex trafficking cases in America that occur every year. Feminism is for the girls who are still convinced they cannot go into STEM, because it’s a ‘field for men.’ Feminism is for the non-binary girl who just came out in school and returns home with black and blue bruises on her face. Feminism is for girls like Amanda, who deserve a shot at success too.

Don’t let your privilege blind you from the injustices that happen around you. Just because you don’t need food doesn’t mean there’s not entire nations dying of hunger. It’s time to wake up and see beyond the privilege. It’s time to finally call yourself a feminist.

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