Without Feminists Women Would Still Be Considered Objects Today #IWD2020

March 08, 2020

Soon in Belgium the morning after pill will be completely free of charge for all women, those under 25 will also have access to free contraceptives, meaning everything will be reimbursed by health insurance. The N-VA, the Flemish nationalist party, voted against this. I have friends who support this political party and even though I never judge them for it I'd like to say that voting for people like this means you're actively voting against your own freedom and your own rights, you're voting against women's rights. You might be thinking: we're already free to take the morning after pill and use contraceptives, that is true, but it's actions like this that show sexism is still very much alive today and that if it were not for feminists we wouldn't even have the right to contraceptives. Advocating for sexual and reproductive health rights is still considered radical to many, why? Because everything was 'fine' until women, girls and the LGBTQI community demanded the right to live without fear, violence or discrimination.

Even though feminism is something that is important to me, I don't talk about it a lot. Sure, I love sharing my thoughts on birth control, body confidence and female sexuality but it usually doesn't go much further than that, on my website that is. The reason why I decided to talk politics in my introduction is because I knew it would strike a nerve in some people and because I wanted a recent example of why it is still important to advocate for women's rights and why the fight is not over. Women in Belgium only got the right to vote in 1948, the right to have their own bank account without needing permission from their husband in 1976. Marital rape was only recognised as a crime in 1989. This became possible because of feminism. This is what feminists have done for you. We would not have the right to choose today if it weren't for those who believed that we are all equal. I used to not understand this until I was well into my twenties. I'm white, straight, I live a privileged life, I'm free to use birth control, to take the morning after pill, I've never accidentally gotten pregnant and I live in country where women's rights are valued more than they are in other places in the world. Even though I have faced sexism already from a very young age (being sexualised for wearing makeup, skirts, tops or simply growing breasts), it is only as I've gotten older that I understood why feminism is important.

Women are still paid less than their male coworkers are, they constantly face scrutiny about the clothes they wear, for the religion they practise, their skin color, women are still punished for being victims of harassment and sexual violence. It's scary, it scares me. I don't take taxis by myself, if I do take public transport at night I make sure someone can come pick me up. I don't stay home alone whenever a stranger needs to come over for repairs in the apartment, for problems with the internet connection, anything. Predators aren't held accountable and it's at the expense of women and children. The story of Julie Van Espen (a young woman in Belgium who was murdered by a convicted rapist) is a perfect example. Her case was taken seriously but the headlines in the news papers still indicated that 'she was at the wrong place at the wrong time'. How can you be at the wrong place at the wrong time when the justice system thinks it is perfectly sound to let a convicted rapist roam free? Also, newspapers really should be changing the way they report femicide. The misogyny is just appalling. I often think vulnerable people in our society are seen as disposable, like - oh you have some trauma? It's okay, you'll get over it soon, it's not like we need to change the law or anything. You want more rights? Naaah that's too expensive, just enjoy the ones you have for now because we love taking those away too.

You don't need to be a woman to be a feminist and you don't need to be a perfect human being to be a feminist. Feminism is about gender equality and diversity acceptance. Feminism is about respecting people regardless of their race, gender or orientation. Simple things you can do in your every day life is change the language you use (as pointed out in the tweet above), call out sexist behaviour, stop dismissing people's needs by calling them sensitive, believe victims of domestic and/or sexual violence, advocate for shared paternity leave to help close the gender pay gap, understand the importance of diversity in the work place and recognise that using your privilege to advance the feminist movement won't reduce your own rights but instead improve the rights of others.

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