If you look back through history, being a woman wasn’t always a lot of fun. In some parts of the world, it still isn’t, by the way! Even in the United States, we have only had the right to vote for just under 100 years. Just over 50 years ago, we weren’t protected from discrimination based on our sex in the workplace.
Of course, we still have a long way to go, but, as Helen Mirren pointed out in a recent interview, the dynamic has fundamentally shifted.
In a recent interview with AOL Makers, Mirren argued that things have changed so much in recent years that “Any woman now actually is a feminist.” Her point, it seems, is that women have come so far that they expect to be treated equally. This is actually a huge step, if you think about it!
She is not, of course, saying that, when it comes to women’s rights, the fight is over. She is simply saying that the default position has shifted. Believing in equality is no longer a radical idea. We may argue over the ways in which society can be made more equal for men and women, but, few people would argue that women deserve lower pay for equal work.
There is a second reason that these are exciting times for women. Simply put, the world is amazing. Every day, we see new advances in technology, science, education and healthcare. Not so long ago, men captured more than their fair share of the value that society created.
Now, things are changing. In fact, in many ways they are reversing. We may not see perfect equality in our lifetimes, but, consider the following. More than 56% of university students are women. In addition, about 50% of all medical students are women. This would have been unthinkable in 1849, when Elizabeth Blackwell became the first woman to graduate from medical school.
We still have a long way to go on certain issues – including equal pay. But, let’s also celebrate the progress that we have made and the fact that, as Helen Mirren says, “The wall is about to fall. It hasn’t quite fallen but, yes, I think there are very exciting times for women.”
Do you agree with Helen Mirren that women today are living in exciting times? What do you think of her claim that all women today are feminists, even if they don’t recognize it? Please join the conversation.