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Why society still needs feminism

Column by Caitlin O’Donnell

O’Donnell is a senior secondary education major and can be reached at caitlin.odonnell@drake.edu

O'DonnellBW-w2000-h2000Because to men, a key is a device to open something. For women, it’s a weapon we hold between our fingers when we’re walking alone at night.

Because the biggest insult for a guy is to be called a “pussy,” a “little bitch” or a “girl.” From here on out, being called a “pussy” is an effing badge of honor.

Because last month, my politics professor asked the class if women should have equal representation in the Supreme Court, and only three out of 42 people raised their hands.

Because rape jokes are still a thing.

Because despite being equally broke college kids, guys are still expected to pay for dates, drinks and flowers.

Because as a legit student group, Campus Fellowship does not allow women to lead anything involving men. Look, I know Eve was dumb about the whole apple and snake thing, but I think we can agree having a vagina does not directly impact your ability to lead a
college organization.

Because it’s assumed that if you are nice to a girl, she owes you sex — therefore, if she turns you down, she’s a bitch who’s put you in the “friend zone.” Sorry, bro, women are not machines you put kindness coins into until sex falls out.

Because only 29 percent of American women identify as feminist, and in the words of author Caitlin Moran, “What part of ‘liberation for women’ is not for you? Is it freedom to vote? The right not to be owned by the man you marry? The campaign for equal pay? Did all that good shit get on your nerves? Or were you just drunk at the time
of the survey?”

Because when people hear the term feminist, they honestly think of women burning bras. Dude, have you ever bought a bra? No one would burn them because they’re freaking

Because Rush Limbaugh.

Because we now have a record number of women in the Senate … which is a measly 20 out of 100. Congrats, USA, we’ve gone up to 78th place for women’s political representation, still below China, Rwanda and Iraq.

Because recently I had a discussion with a couple of well-meaning Drake University guys, and they literally could not fathom how catcalling a woman walking down University Avenue is creepy and sexist.
Could. Not. Fathom.

Because on average, the tenured male professors at Drake make more than the tenured female professors.

Because more people on campus complain about chalked statistics regarding sexual assault than complain about the existence of sexual assault. Priorities? Have them.

Because 138 House Republicans voted against the Violence Against Women Act. All 138 felt it shouldn’t provide support for Native women, LGBT people or immigrant women. I’m kind of confused by this, because I thought LGBT people and women of color were also human beings.
Weird, right?

Because a girl was roofied last semester at a local campus bar, and I heard someone say they think she should have been more careful. Being drugged is her fault, not the fault of the person who put drugs in her drink?

Because Chris Brown beat Rihanna so badly she was hospitalized, yet he still has fans and bestselling songs and a tattoo of an abused woman on his neck.

Because out of 7 billion people on the planet, more than 1 billion women will be raped or beaten in their lifetimes. Women and girls have their clitorises cut out, acid thrown on them and broken bottles shoved up them as an act of war. Every second of every day. Every corner of the Earth.

Because the other day, another friend of mine told me she was raped, and I can no longer count on both my hands the number of friends who have told me they’ve been sexually assaulted. Words can’t express how scared I am that I’m getting used to this.

Because a brief survey of reality will tell you that we do not live in a world that values all people equally and that sucks in real, very scary ways. Because you know we live in a sexist world when an awesome thing with the name “feminism” has a weird connotation. Because if I have kids someday, I want my son to be able to have emotions and play dress up, and I want my daughter to climb trees and care more about what’s in her head than what’s on it. Because I don’t want her to carry keys between her fingers at night to
protect herself.

Because feminism is for everybody, and this is your official invitation.


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  1. Proud Mom of Cate April 28, 2013

    You Rock My Darlin’!
    I love you so much!

    1. Kate May 17, 2013

      You should be proud. I just tweeted this and sent it in an email to my three sons and two daughters. It’s the most cogent, thoughtful, well written piece I’ve ever read on this topic. I read it aloud to one of my daughters today and we were laughing at the beginning and crying at the end. Brava.

  2. Beatrice Dohrn April 30, 2013

    Great. Because nobody blinks an eye that women are again taking their husband’s last name when they get married. How is that beneath noticing?

    1. AGTMADCAT May 17, 2013

      Why is that a problem? In order to form family units that share last names, someone has to change their last name. It’s up to each couple to decide who that should be – however the statistics end up, it’s not a “problem” unless people are being forced. And if one feels strongly enough about it that one would be *forced* by a selected partner, then that’s a marriage that shouldn’t happen.

      And what’s all this business about keys as weapons? I don’t follow that one at all.

  3. Helen Hardesty May 12, 2013

    Very inspiring! I thank you for this!!!!

  4. Andrew Barden May 16, 2013

    Really good piece — good for you. Jennifer Harvey blogged that it is “one of the most amazing pieces [she’s] read lately,” and I agree. I also agree with your mom — you rock.

  5. Gabrielle May 17, 2013


  6. JeninCanada May 17, 2013

    Well said, and thank you for saying it. And we have to keep saying it over and over. Feminism is for EVERYONE; men, women, trans*gender folks, the LGBQ community, everyone, because like you said, what part of EQUALITY isn’t for everyone?

  7. Alison Underwood May 17, 2013


  8. Chivalry is dead May 17, 2013

    This article is so much fail. I could literally write the same type of arguments and call it “why we need chauvinism.”

    People need to realize that just because the number of rapes increases when ice cream sales increase, doesn’t mean ice cream has anything to do with rape. I guess we should blame Dairy Queen…

    I see so much double standard in feminism.

  9. Nancy Mead May 17, 2013

    This was an amazing essay. Thank you for writing it. I posted it on the Central Oregon Coast NOW (National Organization for Women) and it is going viral.

  10. Katy B. May 17, 2013

    Thank you for speaking up! I how your words convince more young people how important feminism is in their lives.

  11. X May 17, 2013

    I could not love this more than I do. Wonderful work, Caitlin. Well said.

  12. Carey Newman May 17, 2013

    Well put. As a father of a beautiful 2.5 year old daughter who is filled with joy, humour and light, I can’t express the depth of my fear that someone could someday hurt her. Femenism is beyond important. I can see why your mother is proud.

  13. Lou May 17, 2013

    Beautifully written.


    And a quick reply to Beatrice: Husbands name, father’s name, what’s the difference?

  14. Barrayaran May 17, 2013


  15. Brittney May 17, 2013

    You are seriously amazing.I want to post this on every corner of the earth.

  16. Srivi Kalyan May 17, 2013

    Remarkable! Really loved it, the tone, the truth and the emotion! Fantastic and important!

  17. Lymie May 18, 2013

    EXCELLENT!! THERE IS HOPE if there are people like you with courage and conviction. Thank you.

  18. Zachery May 18, 2013

    If women are so paranoid at night have a boyfriend to walk with.

    The tattoo of Chris Brown isnt about violence. It is about one of the mexican holidays. Stop misrepresenting people. You show your intellectual dishonesty.

    Vawa is anti male crap. Look up Mandatory Arrest and Primary Aggressor laws. Also why not have it be the Violence against humanity act? Or are you showing your misandry by admitting women>men?

    Also if you are so concerned with women in congress then run for office yourself or hush.

    Need i continue?

  19. Terry Bequette May 19, 2013

    Nice column, Cate. I hope more of your male peers read it and take it to heart. Feminism is for everybody.

  20. counsel dew May 19, 2013

    I find it more about a lack of power or confidence-those without it feel a need to overpower or belittle others to feel better about themselves. Sad really…

    Perspective is also nice though… A guy you like winking at you might not be perceived the same as that strange, creepy guy you don’t like…

    Guys, most I know, don’t mind being whistled at because they take it as a compliment-regardless of the intent. I know girls (women, if ‘girls’ offends you) who feel the same. They all realize the thoughts of others means little…

    Feminism, etc isn’t required unless you think being human wouldn’t accomplish the same thing-or that boys (or men…) aren’t capable of rational thought either.

    Of course, I wouldn’t feel slighted if there were 6 female Justices on the bench either… I think men and women really don’t think that much differently-those books just wouldn’t sell.

    People’s opinion are based on their experiences and the perception of those experiences. However, I’m not sure how the Boy Scouts teaching appripriate behavior to solve issues (or any other solution) requires Feminism-or why that would be a bad thing….

  21. John May 19, 2013

    Because we still need to make white males feel guilty for being born. That’s what I took away from this.

  22. Steffi May 22, 2013

    Because older women are demeaned and belittled for daring to express their sexuality and instead of being called “pussies” or “botches” they “progress” to the status of “cougers.”

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