A call to revive the “F word”

President Barack Obama’s decision to sign the Lilly Ledbetter Act should both excite and concern American women.

Although the law is a promising sign of the administration’s support for civil rights reform, it reminds us that the fight for gender equality is far from over.

Lilly Ledbetter worked for Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company for 19 years and filed suit against the company when she discovered she was not earning a comparable wage to her male co-workers. The case went to the Supreme Court, which ruled against Ledbetter, claiming she did not file suit within a reasonable period of time, according to The New York Times.

The Lilly Ledbetter Act reverses the Supreme Court decision and extends the time a person has to file for work discrimination.

As fanfare surrounds the new legislation and civil rights groups rejoice, I cannot help but be dissatisfied with the stagnation of the current women’s movement.

An unsettling apathy rests in the hearts of American women. Gender equality does not unite women with the fervor it did in the past.

The Ledbetter Act passed with more focus on President Obama’s approval of the law than Ledbetter’s battle with the Supreme Court. Many women probably couldn’t tell you who Lilly Ledbetter is.

A lot of women probably don’t care.

There is a troubling thought among women that the equality sought in the women’s movement has completely been attained. I somehow beg to differ.

Fighting for reproductive rights and closing the wage gap continue to challenge the feminist cause, and the strength of that cause seems to weaken every day.

There is a mistaken attitude in this country that feminism is a dirty word and those who support it have a misguided agenda. Society has somehow reverted back to assessing women by everything but their characters.

The presidential election gave me a revealing look at American society’s views of women in the 21st century.

When former Sen. Hillary Clinton tried to engage in debates with President Obama, she was scrutinized by the media and voters for lacking femininity. Countless people called her harsh names for exhibiting strong will, even though voters admired President Obama’s determination.

Gov. Sarah Palin received more attention for her status as a mom than as a governor. Countless media outlets evaluated Palin’s good looks as if it was appropriate conversation about a vice presidential nominee.

I never heard anyone talking about how good Joe Biden looked in his swimsuit.

The double standard also followed Michelle Obama to the White House. The first lady attended Princeton University and Harvard Law School, yet reporters would rather discuss what designer she is wearing.

Women must realize that the glass ceiling that existed during the 1960s and 1970s may have cracked, but it is not broken yet. A law cannot end objectification, but a powerful group of women defending themselves can reinvigorate a movement.

Fighting for respect and equality is anything but shameful, and women need to stop being afraid of the connotations associated with being a feminist.

Call me a feminist.

What you may perceive as a dirty word, I take as a compliment.

MarchaŠ Grair is a junior electronic media major and columnist for the Daily Kent Stater. Contact her at [email protected].