In global politics, this fall feels like a step backward for women

It’s exhausting to be caught in the cycle of current events of repeatedly jeopardized women’s rights

Women's rights aren't guaranteed.
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I can’t count the number of times I’ve heard someone use the word ‘feminist’ as an insult. 
 
I’ve been told feminism is greedy, it oppresses men, it’s obsolete. We have the vote—what more could we possibly want?
 
I’m exhausted by the narrative that women in North America have achieved perfect, utopian equality. Important strides have certainly been made toward elevating women’s rights, but we’re still far from living in a world where we don’t need inclusive feminism—just look at the state of global politics in the past month.
 
Watching the U.S. election results roll in over the course of last week was an incredibly frustrating experience. Donald Trump has received over 72 million votes—that’s 72 million Americans who’ve decided Trump’s treatment of LGBTQIA+ people, racialized groups, and women aren’t dealbreakers. 
 
October 2016 saw the publication of the Access Hollywood tape in which Trump can be heard bragging about grabbing women “by the pussy” in 2005. He was still elected President that November, just one month later.
 
The rhetoric surrounding Trump’s blatant sexism and mistreatment of women paints as clear a picture as any that present-day women aren’t free from discrimination. His supporters have dismissed the Access Hollywood tape as ‘locker room talk.’ But ‘jokes’ about sexual assault aren’t salacious fun—the fact that this is even considered by some to be a valid excuse for Trump’s words speaks volumes about their perception of women. Sexual violence is a gravely serious  issue that disproportionately affects women: results from a 2019 survey by Statistics Canada found that 30 per cent of Canadian women 15 years of age and older have experienced sexual assault compared to eight per cent of men. 
 
At least 26 women have accused Trump of sexual misconduct since the 1970s, and he was still elected President of one of the most influential countries in the world. If that doesn’t set a devastatingly harmful precedent for how little we value the experiences of women, I don’t know what does. 
 
Since entering office, Trump has worked tirelessly to kneecap women’s rights, including blocking laws that promote equal pay in the workplace and dismantling reproductive health services. Most recently, he nominated Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court, and her confirmation represents a significant threat to American women
 
Barrett is not a feminist icon. Throughout her confirmation hearings, she refused to say whether she would uphold reproductive rights, including access to safe abortion and birth control. Her addition to the Supreme Court puts cornerstones of women’s rights, such as affordable childcare, pay equality, and Roe v. Wade—the landmark Supreme Court ruling which protects a pregnant woman's right to have an abortion without excessive government 
restriction—in jeopardy.
 
Across the ocean, hundreds of thousands of women in Poland have taken to the streets for nearly three weeks to protest the Polish government's tightening of an already severe abortion law. Poland had the fourth-strictest abortion law in Europe before the change; now, people can only access abortion for two reasons: threats to the person’s life, or rape.
 
Here in Canada, the thousands of Indigenous women and girls who were murdered or have disappeared across the country span decades. They are victims of a Canadian genocide, one that has gone greatly unaddressed and ignored.
 
Some days, the news cycle feels like an endless barrage of proof that even in countries touted as progressive, women’s experiences continue to be devalued, our bodies still policed, our safety dismissed. Here in North America, the fight for women’s rights is far from over.
 
Being told women have achieved complete equality, that feminism is an outdated, unnecessary tool that should be retired, is not only discouraging—it hurts. Watching women’s rights around the world fall into question time and again is sickening, and it’s made worse when it goes unacknowledged. 
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