10 Ways to Keep Up the Feminist Fight in 2014

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The progress the feminist movement made in 2013 illuminates the progress we still need to make. In the following list, we celebrate the good of this year, and suggest where the road to equality should take us next:

  1. Women were allowed into combat this January, but the prevalence of sexual assault on the job—nearly one in three servicewomen are raped while serving—has yet to be adequately addressed. NOW we need Congress to pass the Military Justice Improvement Act, introduced in May by Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), which would allow for more effective prosecution of sex assaults outside of the military chain of command.

  2. At-home caregivers, among the lowest-paid workers in the country and predominately women, finally received the right to the federal minimum wage in September. But even 50 years after the passing of the Equal Pay Act, the gender wage gap has stayed the same for over a decade, with women working full time year-round earning 77 cents to a man’s dollar. NOW we need to raise the federal minimum wage even higher, and groups such as fast-food workers (see below) are asking for $15 an hour.

  3. Fast-food workers, the majority women, participated in strikes and protests for better wages in August and again in December. Ms. was so inspired by their courage that we featured them in our Fall issue. But at $8.94 an hour their median wage remains near the poverty line for a family of two while fast-food executives are quite generously reimbursed (the CEO of McDonald’s made $13.8 million in 2012). NOW we have to #StandWithRosie in 2014 until workers receive the respect and remuneration they deserve.

  4. Six men were indicted in the 2012 gang-rape case of a 16-year-old girl in Steubenville, Ohio, but justice for sexual assault survivors is still extremely difficult to obtain—as seen in some colleges’ mishandling of sexual assault cases and some news media’s framing of rape cases with victim-blaming language. NOW, the Campus SAVE Act—part of the reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act—will go into effect in March, offering additional tools for protecting women and men students.

  5. The Supreme Court overturned in June both the Defense of Marriage Act and Proposition 8, thus extending federal marriage benefits to same-sex marriage partners and reinstating legal same-sex marriage in California. Same-sex marriage then became the law of the land in New Jersey, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Minnesota and Maryland as well. NOW let’s continue the fight for marriage equality in the 33 states that still ban same-sex marriage, change laws in the 28 states where people can still be fired for their sexual identity or gender expression and make sure the Employment Non-Discrimination Act is passed by Congress.

  6. Emergency contraceptive Plan B was legalized for over-the-counter sales in August, and contraception became free for most insured women under the Affordable Care Act—nearly tripling the number of women receiving birth control pills without out-of-pocket costs. NOW let’s push for better accessibility for Plan B, which often difficult to find in stores and expensive, and to make cheaper generic brands of the medication available without a prescription.
  7. Sen. Wendy Davis (D-Texas) managed a 13-hour filibuster to block draconian state abortion restrictions, some of which were ultimately declared unconstitutional, and Albuquerque voters killed an attempt to put into place the first citywide abortion ban after 20 weeks of pregnancy, without exceptions for rape or incest. NOW we have to prepare for battle against new attempts to restrict reproductive rights that conservatives are planning for 2014 ballots.

  8. With the improved Senate filibuster rules, we expect Janet Yellen to be the first woman chair of the Federal Reserve and, hopefully, we’ll see a flurry of judicial appointments approved, including many women. NOW we have to make sure women continue to break through to positions of power an respect in all areas of endeavor, including within the news media. It’s unacceptable, for example, that The New York Times quotes sources who are men 3.4 times more often than women sources.

  9. Virginia elected pro-choice candidates to all of its top statewide offices in the November election, thanks to a substantial gender gap. NOW let’s hope they can overturn draconian anti-abortion TRAP laws and thus help save women’s health clinics in Virginia that are being forced to close.
  10. With the trending of Twitter hashtag #SolidarityIsForWhiteWomen calling attention to the need for intersectionality in the women’s movement, and well-known people embracing a feminist identity, feminism became an “it word” in the mainstream media this year. NOW we have to keep up the everyday work to make sure that sexism and other systematic oppressions are vanquished from our lives.

Photos from Julie Jordan Scott and Dezcom under license from Creative Commons 2.0

ME EMILY

 

 

Emily Zak is finishing her B.A. in journalism from the University of Montana as an editorial intern for Ms.

Comments

  1. Let’s not forget the horrible, deadly 39 week law in Texas. This is where women are not allowed to give birth before 39 weeks. The Drs will allow w woman to be in full labor for four weeks if their water does not break on its own. Many babies that would be healthy are stillborn. This law must be changed ASAP

  2. Such a good article! I strongly believe that feminist journalism should also involve activism, and Ms. has always delivered on this. I’m really looking forward to seeing even more of this in 2014.

  3. I had a typo. Please post this one:
    We need to recognize how language keeps women in confined roles, and that female mammals are the basis for all written languages. Designating a female gender to relevant nouns exists in all literate cultures. Things that are designated “female” are considered of less value than those things designated “male.” Why, for example, is “milking” an issue a pejorative, but “disseminating” information and the “seminal” idea are considered positives? We are mammals, known for our milk-drinking proclivities, yet we elevate male semen in language and denigrate female excretions. This is because men wrote language in order to dominate female mammals. I have been researching ancient written languages for over four years, and have just completed a year of research in China. Women will not be free until we understand how writing and written scripts dictate rigid roles for both females and males. And how euphemism is still a method of hiding what is considered unsavory to the educated populace, which is how “breastaurants” like Hooters and the Tilted Kilt thrive. “Hooter’s isn’t about big breasted women, Hun, it’s about owl’s eye. Look at the logo!” Eyes, breasts, they’re both targets. Eyes see breasts. Lips attach to breasts. Our mammaries are the basis for the success of civilization, and why we are called “mammals.” But one of our survival techniques is to be in denial; if we continue our fantasy, we are in danger of over-populating our world because we love sex, especially the males who want to see their genetic material replicated, generally in the spitting image of themselves, and they need a female to do that for them.

  4. These are all excellent ways to fight for feminist causes but I hope we can put Intersectionalism not just on a list, but as a concept that becomes indivisible from feminist principles. I hope that women of every economic class, all races, religions, creeds, ethnic identities, sexual orientations, and transgender identities never again feel “othered” by the feminist movement, which is a movement for the equality of all women.

    • Well said, Dianna – intersectionality is SO crucial, an energizing force for feminism that can be a place of immense learning and personal and cultural transformation (and must also be economic, political).

  5. This is a really good and important post. Thank you.

  6. Something else we can all do is to support VoteERA.org’s effort to get a state ERA into Oregon’s Constitution (22 states have ERA’s in their Constitution’s but Oregon does not). VoteERA is collecting signatures right now (need 8% of the registered voters in the state to sign the petition in order to qualify for the ballot) to get this on the November 2014 ballot. If you are a registered voter in Oregon please sign and mail in the e-petition (www.voteera.org). You can also volunteer and donate (unfortunately, it takes a huge amount of money to run a statewide initiative campaign). Even if you are out of state you can help this fight for an important (we cannot afford to lose or it will be a huge step backwards for women’s rights in Oregon) by donating (https://secure.c-esystems.com/voteera/donation.aspx).

  7. Curious so I’ll ask. Do any of you pay attention or study what Denmark did or has done, or Norway, or Germany? Is that a resource of inspiration or guidance?

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