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FROM READERS: Can you be a feminist and wear high heels?

Monday, March 3, 2014 | 6:00 a.m. CST; updated 7:44 p.m. CDT, Monday, March 10, 2014

Kara McGhee is a graduate student in sociology and has taught Intro to Sociology, Social Inequalities and Self and Society at MU. She is a member of SGSG, GRO Mizzou and Feminist Student Union.

The truth is, feminism doesn’t care about your shoes.

To me, feminism is about freedom from obligation. Feeling pressure to wear high heels (or not), and conform to mainstream representations of gender (or not) are pressures feminism seeks to free us all from.

Feminism focuses on women’s social, political and economic rights. Feminists are responsible for domestic violence and sexual assault actually becoming crimes. Rosa Parks worked tirelessly for this cause throughout the 1940s and '50s by traveling the United States and investigating rapes that local police were not willing to. I promise, feminists do not care about your shoes.

Please, think twice before you trivialize a philosophy and political movement that works toward a more open and safe society.

According to a 2011 National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey (view a pdf of the survey here), about 13 percent of women and 6 percent of men have experienced sexual coercion at some point in their lives.

Despite the prevalence of domestic violence and sexual assault, few laws specifically protected victims of such crimes until recently: The Family Violence and Prevention Service Act (view a PDF about the act here) first passed in 1984, and the Violence Against Women Act passed in 1994 (view a PDF of the act here). Before 1994, it was legal for state courts to charge rape victims for the cost of their own rape exams and for service of a protection order.

The Rape Survivor Child Custody Act (view a PDF of the act here), which has been under congressional committee review since July 22, 2013, states, “Men who father children through rape should be prohibited from visiting or having custody of those children.”

Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, D-Fla., sponsors the bill in part because only six states legally allow rape survivors to seek termination of parental rights of the rapist.

Rosa Parks’ work is not finished. So put on your favorite shoes and become a feminist (or reject the label yet join the cause, whatever).

This story is part of a section of the Missourian called From Readers, which is dedicated to your voices and your stories. We hope you'll consider sharing. Here's how. Supervising editor is Joy Mayer.


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