Top 10 Feminist Issues You Should Be Aware Of

Feminist issues or sexism are issues that revolve around the female gender especially those that affect their sexuality and equality with men.

By Emmanuel Onitayo
Top 10 Feminist Issues You Should Be Aware Of

Feminist Issues: What Are They?

Regardless of society, class, race or creed, you may have noticed that there are some challenges or issues that are specific to girls and women. Many activists, women themselves, and even some concerned men have always sought to address these issues in order to find a solution. Many societies today don't see girls as equals to their male counterparts, therefore there is a lot of social injustice when it comes to both girls and women, as well. These injustices and all that accompany them tend to place the female gender a bit lower on the ladder than that of their male counterparts. In society these are referred to as feminist issues. That being said, feminist issues are issues are those that are limited to the girls and women but honestly, they tend to affect men, as well. Anyone fighting for the rights of women, whether male, or female, is considered to be a feminist. With that understanding in mind, it's necessary to consider common feminist issues that every society is faced with today. As earlier noted, they aren't issues of race, tribe, class or social status but they are gender-based. If you're looking for another word on this subject, it would be sexism. Sexism refers to all the prejudices and discrimination that is typically meted against the both girls and women. Today we will ten of these issues and you can learn about them below.

1. Female Genital Mutilation (FGM)

Although this barbaric act is largely reported in the African continent, it is no less carried out in the western world too. In fact, in Europe, the UK in particular, various reports by bodies such as the Home Office put about 170, 000 girls as survivors of this criminal act. Also, in North America, the rate of FGM may not be as alarming as it is in Africa but it is no less present. It's a global issue that requires our collective effort to fight against. It would be best for us to to define in a simple and clear language what female genital mutilation is. Simply put, it is the female equivalent of the circumcision that takes place in men. In order words, the cutting of certain genital parts of a female such as the clitoris for various reasons which have no scientific basis. In Africa, Asia and the Middle East where the act is most prevalent, it is believed that such circumcision of females would prevent them from being promiscuous when they reach puberty. As such, the effort is a wicked attempt to suppress female sexuality. As the practice goes, a person who has no formal training in the modern medical field comes with a razor to remove either a part or total portion of the female genitalia usually at the age when girl cannot make a conscious decision for herself. Apart from promiscuity, many also carry out this act of sexism for ritual purposes. In certain cultures, however, it is done to humiliate and suppress girls and women. As pointed out by the World Health Organization, none of the reasons for FGM are genuine and the act is nothing but a blatant violation of the fundamental rights of girls and women. In most cases where such cuttings have been done on women, there is excessive bleeding and even problems during childbirth. Many have died due to the process and a lot of girls and women have gone on to experience infections in that part of the body. Consider the fact that this practice boasts of no concrete medical advantage other than harm, isn't this the time for everyone to rise up against it? Female sexuality is seriously under threat except the tide is stemmed.

2. Sex-Selected Abortion

In most countries around the world today, abortion is a crime. However, to criminalize abortion is a subtle attempt to silence women and make them forceful mothers of babies they may not have planned to raise. In other words, criminalizing abortion leaves women with no option than to accept and bear the consequences of various social vices that are mostly inflicted on them by men. That being said, in some places where abortion is permitted, it is usually gender-selected. That is, the process is permitted if the fetus is a female. The basis for this is the erroneous belief that a male child is generally more desirable than a female child. What sexism can be appalling more than this? If abortion is considered bad for a male fetus, what makes it okay for his female counterpart? What most feminists advocate for is gender equality. Gender equality is an idea that says that a female child is essentially no less a human being than that of the male. If abortion is considered bad for a male fetus, it should be viewed likewise for the female fetus too.

3. Domestic Abuse

Women of all races and tribes have had to endure countless incidents of domestic abuse from their intimate partner. Facts provided by the United Nations reveal that of the 28 member countries of the EU, not less than 48% of the entire female population has experienced one form or the other of physical abuse. In some countries and cultures of the world, the statistics can be higher than that as women are often treated by their spouses as if they aren't human beings at all. As you look around you, chances are that you know a girl or a woman who is being abused in one or more ways by their male partner. Abuses can sexual, mental, physical, psychological or even financial. Regardless of type, abuse is never justified. That's not to say that the tables aren't turning because, yes, women do abuse men, but the trend is quite uncommon when one considers the rate at which men abuse women both here and abroad. Domestic abuse of women is among the top feminist issues that any class or race of people under the sun can relate to. It's going to take a collective effort, one which must begin at the family level, to end this act of humiliation. Mothers must take the time to educate their boys on how to both love, and respect women. When we have a society of healthy boys and men then abuse of women will be greatly reduced.

4. Trafficking

One would think that only goods are smuggled from one country to another but that's fare from the case. Human beings are now being smuggled across borders of different countries for purposes ranging from forced labor to other criminal acts including prostitution. Victims of trafficking are usually hoodwinked or in some cases, forced by an agent who promises to help them get to a better place in another country. When they arrive in that country, however, the story slowly begins to change. As the practice goes and as reported in the media, many of those who are victims of trafficking either their vital organs removed or they forced into one or more forms of sexual activity, such as prostitution. Women are the highest victims of this dastardly act though boys and men are not immune to it either. The US State Department has pointed out that as many as 800, 000 human beings become victims of human trafficking every year across the globe and that out of this figure, 80% are girls and women. More than half of all females victims are children and in the United States alone, at least 70, 000 people are trafficked one way or the other into the country every year. Non-feminist individuals may not want to see this international crime as an act of sexism but when it affects a whopping 80% of a particular gender how can you not ignore it? Boys and young men are victims of trafficking as well but the vast majority of victims are girls and women. Either way this practicing is unacceptable but at the same time, it's very difficult to stop.

5. Gender Pay Gap

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For the same qualifications and work experience, many women get paid less than their male counterparts in the workplace. It's a bit unfair to spend the same amount of time in college and to work the same amount of hours only to be paid less because of gender, but it's real, and it plays out in the workplace everyday. Gender pay disparity at the workplace is premised on the erroneous belief that men need more money women but at the same time, it's also an attempt by some male-dominated employers to suppress women. Many employers do so hoping their female counterparts don't succeed them when it comes to wealth and power. Using the United States as a baseline for our illustration, if we leave aside class and race, for every one dollar earned by a man, records show that a woman only earns 79 cents. Women earn less than their male co-workers despite working the same number of hours each day for the same number of days throughout the year. A 2014 statistic reveals that the annual median wage of most men was $50,383 dollars for one year of employment in the workplace. The average salary for a woman was $39,621 dollars. This is a considerable difference but what exactly can be done about it? How can the gap be narrowed? The issue becomes a bit worse when race and class are factored in. While a white man would earn a dollar for a task, an African-American man earns around 50 to 60 cents for doing the exact same task. The reason for the disparity? First, their sex, and second, their race or color. Even though there are more women in college today than men, the disparity in pay between the two genders in the workplace still persists.

6. Poor Representation In Government

Apart from the workplace, another sector where women seem to be easily sidelined is in government office. Again, this cuts across most tribes, class, race or color of the world where women are seen less in government than men. One should acknowledge that women are now represented in government more today than ever before but the fact still remains that government in most countries is male-dominated. A United Nations statistics about women in government said that with the exception of Rwanda in Africa, most countries have less than 30% women in their parliaments. In fact, the statistics put the total worldwide women presence in the parliament as only 22.8%. This is quite abysmal and it's not the way things should be, but the fact remains, it's how things are. The few women who have made it to the position of Head of States have proven beyond a reasonable doubt that they know exactly what they're doing when it comes to leadership in government office. Instead of electing representatives based on gender, a candidate's agenda should be considered instead. A women's place in society is no longer in the kitchen or in the bedroom but woman are still asked to prove themselves everyday in order to be seen as more than just a housewife or a mother. Many women have it within them to provide solutions to the global challenges they are facing but it takes guts and courage to stand up to the men who try to suppress them.

7. Rape

Rape is another global crime against women that defies class, race or color. Rape is an issue affecting female sexuality and simply put, every action that involves exploring and exploiting a person sexually against their consent or wish constitutes rape. This shouldn't be a gender-based issue but again, statistics say no, it's not. According to a release by the United States Center for Disease Control and Prevention, 1 out of every 5 women experiences rape whereas, for men, it is 1 out of 71. Why it is so easy then to identify rape as largely a female issue? It's even more pathetic to know that a large portion of rape reported by girls and women comes from either their intimate partners or close relatives. Rape is among the top causes of unwanted pregnancies worldwide and it places victims, mostly women, in a place of hatred with their own biological self. Unfortunately, not many convictions are handed down in court when it comes to rapists. This has resulted in low reports of this crime against girls and women. Many rape victims suffer trauma as a direct result of the act of rape. A lot of girls and women contract one or more STD's or the other through the act of being rapes. For those who were raped while they were still very young, it turns out to be that their sexuality that is affected as they mature. In view of this, a stricter measure should be put in place by governments of various countries to stem this ugly tide.

8. Boko Haram

Boko Haram is a religious fundamentalist group that has been terrorizing the North Eastern Part of Nigeria in West Africa. On April 14, 2014, over 250 secondary school girls were abducted by the sect in Chibok, Borno State, Nigeria. This incidence did attract a lot of attention worldwide from various feminists and it was condemned as a huge crime against young girls in the country. Boko Haram in English is translated as "Education is Forbidden." Beyond just causing terror in that part of the country, the Islamic fundamentalist by the abductions are saying that education is forbidden for a girl or a young woman. This sentiment is not only put forward by Boko Haram in Nigeria but in most other African and Asian countries as well. The western equivalent may be a bit refurbished but the underlining spirit still remains the same - that a young girl does not deserve as much education (that's if she deserves at all) as a male child does. While many local and international feminists are still dealing with the trauma nearly four years later, it happened once again, earlier this year. On February 19, 2018, another set of 110 secondary school girls were kidnapped by the same insurgents in neighboring Yobe State in Nigeria. Girls as a target by these insurgents makes it hard for anyone to argue it isn't a feminist issue. As it is, feminists all over the world are campaigning for the release of the girls through various Twitter hashtags such as #Bringbackourgirls.

9. Stalking And Harassment

Most women are harassed on a daily basis by men either from home by their spouses or at their workplace by their boss. This harassment can either be sexual, emotional, or verbal but once again, it's unacceptable. The assumption by men who harass women is that women can easily be cajoled to submit to anything. Feminists around the globe are standing up to this workplace harassment through various bodies that fight for women's rights. Setting that aside, one terrible but subtle form of prejudice against women is stalking. This act involves monitoring women either by their spouses or a paid agent to get personal information about them. This clearly violates rights to freedom and feminists should not accept it no matter what the reason.

10. Breastfeeding

It is normal for a woman to breastfeed her baby whenever the baby calls for it and sometimes, unless the mother acts fast, the baby won't stop crying. However, as noted by many feminists, this natural act is now being viewed by some men as disgusting. Setting that thought aside, another feminist interest about breastfeeding is the "how" of it. Many feminists feel that they need not be coerced on how best to feed their babies. For those who have challenges with breastfeeding, some feminists believe they should be left to follow the formula-based diet instead of being discriminated against.

Final Thoughts

The concept of feminism came up as a result of the perceived injustices and prejudices against women in our societies. Feminist or not, every human being deserves respect and recognition. Women have seen that if they continue to be a receptacle to all the things that men present to them, they may soon be relegated to that which is considered to be a slave. And that is why we have people called feminists. The issues discussed in this piece are as real and relevant as the breaking of the day and everyone that believes in justice and equality should team up to fight against them.

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