As I have said before, I did not discover the necessity of feminism until recently. I saw Suffragette when it came out and was surprised by the suffering and struggle that went into women obtaining the right to vote. But, although it was depicted to me firsthand, I thought this struggle was long over. That is, until the end of the movie. A scrolling list appeared of countries paired with the year their female citizens gained the right to vote.
Seeing that countries, such as Saudi Arabia, just allowed women to vote in 2015 surprised me. I knew that many women do not have as many rights as men in all parts of the world — some countries more severe than others. But, I did not know they were denied such a basic right as to vote until so recently. I assumed many countries gave women these rights on paper but abused and denied them basic necessities “behind the scenes”. Because of this, it did not surprise me that women in Saudi Arabia are not allowed to vote unless it is with a man.
This is the moment I realized that feminism is not an important cause because I and other women around me are affected by injustices. It is necessary because women who are not around me are affected and although I do not have to struggle nearly as much as some women in the world do, I should still care.
When Suffragette movements were happening across the world simultaneously, they were powerful and brave. I believe this is because all women were fighting for one cause. All women. The rich, the middle class, and the poor had one goal in mind. As of today, particular groups of women have gained rights while others have not. This causes the feminist mission to be a little blurred. Many women do not declare themselves feminists, many women are complacent in their position in society, and many women fear the fight for rights.
American women and those living in other developed countries have struggles in society. These women have to deal with men speaking over them when they are talking, men physically walking in their paths, and the expectation that they should have children, among other things. For example: Hillary Clinton. When her husband cheated on her, she was the one who was criticized for staying with him, not her solely husband, who was unfaithful. She is continuously criticized and reported on for her clothing as opposed to her issues. And, her tactic for presenting her views is judged although it is the same as every other presidential candidate. These are all criticisms we, as a society, are used to. But, when examined, we can see that they are not fair.
Women around the world, though, have much different struggles that feminists should work to bring awareness to and work to cease. To list just a few: In Iraq, the literacy rate of women and girls is one of the lowest in the Arab world because many families fear rape and kidnapping by sending girls to school. In Pakistan, women are raped and killed as punishment for men’s crimes. Saudi Arabian women are forced to depend on men their whole lives. They rely upon men in order to drive a car or vote but may not socialize with them publicly (Ten Worst Countries for Women).
The issues of women in developed and developing countries differ from each other greatly. But, one thing they have in common is that, at the baseline, they are simply a struggle. And, because all women are struggling, albeit at different degrees, we all must band together to end the difficulties and the suffering.