5 Things We Can Thank Feminists for -- and 5 Areas that Still Need Help

5 things we can thank feminists for -- and 5 areas that still need help5 things we can thank feminists for -- and 5 areas that still need helpOh, those wacky feminists. Always burning their bras and eating granola and asking for equality 'n' stuff. Like, you know, the right to vote, control your own money, and leave a man who beats the crap out of you. Crazy stuff like that.

In honor of Women's History Month, we bring you 5 things we can truly thank feminists for -- and 5 more things we still need to work on.



5 Things We Can Thank Feminists for


Elizabeth Cady Stanton, who was instrumental in the passage of the 1848 New York State Married Women's Property ActElizabeth Cady Stanton, who was instrumental in the passage of the 1848 New York State Married Women's Property …
1. The right to own property
In 1848, the State of New York became the first in the U.S. to pass a law granting married women the right to control their own property. Prior to that, women ceded all legal rights to their husbands upon marriage in a practice called coverture. By 1900, every state had given women substantial control over their property.


Senator Hattie CarawaySenator Hattie Caraway
2. The right to hold public office
Although women still couldn't vote in 1788, the United States allowed female citizens to run for election to federal office. In 1932 Hattie Caraway (D-AR) became the first woman elected to the U.S. Senate - and she won by a landslide. Currently, 17 of the 100 U.S. Senators are women. Of the 435 members of the U.S. Congress, 76 are women.

Related: 10 "dad rules" for dating my daughter



Women demonstrate for the right to vote in February 1913Women demonstrate for the right to vote in February 1913
3. The right to vote
Women achieved the right to vote in 1920 with the ratification of the 19th Amendment to the Constitution, which prohibits any U.S. Citizen to be denied the right to vote on the basis of sex. (Unfortunately, women still cannot vote in Saudi Arabia.)

Are you making the most of this right? In the 2008 presidential election, 66 percent of eligible women voters actually voted. (Only 62 percent of eligible men voters did.) But of women aged 18-24, only 52 percent voted. Sigh … if only we could vote by text message.


Oberlin students in the 1850sOberlin students in the 1850s
4. Access to education
The first U.S. college to admit women, men, and people of color all at the same time (gasp!) was Oberlin College in Oberlin, OH. One of Oberlin's most prominent graduates was noted abolitionist and women's rights pioneer Lucy Stone.

What was available before Oberlin admitted women in 1833? A handful of single-sex education institutions. One of the first women's colleges was the hilariously named Single Sister's House, which is now Salem College in Winston-Salem, NC.

Related: The 12 worst moments in education



The right to choose whom to marry* -- or not to marry at all The right to choose whom to marry* -- or not to marry at all
5. The right to choose whom to marry* -- or not to marry at all
In 1791, British writer Mary Wallstonecraft became one of the first women to prominently argue that women should not be forced into marriage or traded like property. She also believed that only with a real education could women enter into the contract of marriage with full consent.

Currently, the United Nations states that "men and women of full age, have the right to marry and to found a family. They are entitled to equal rights as to marriage during marriage and at its dissolution. Marriage shall be entered into only with the free and full consent of the intending spouses." *Note: the right to choose whom to marry may depend on your state. Congratulations, Marylanders!


5 Areas That Still Need Help

Let's work on: Child care Let's work on: Child care
1. Let's work on: Child care
Finding affordable, quality child care continues to be at the top of the priority list for pretty much every working mother, ever. The average annual cost for child care is $11,600.

Related: 5 things ALL women want to hear



Let's work on: Buying into the myth that looks are more important than anything elseLet's work on: Buying into the myth that looks are more important than anything else
2. Let's work on: Buying into the myth that looks are more important than anything else
According to the American Society for Plastic Surgeons, women had over 12 billion cosmetic procedures done in 2010, ranging from Botox injections to breast augmentations. Despite this craptastic economy, we spend a staggering $10 billion a year on plastic surgery.

American women also reportedly spend an additional $7 billion a year on cosmetics and other beauty products, averaging out to $100 a month. I like a new lipstick as much as the next gal, but the Young Women's Christian Association notes that if $100 a month were saved and invested, in five years you'd have enough for a full year of tuition and fees at a public college. Something to think about.


Let's work on: Crazy uncomfortable underwear Let's work on: Crazy uncomfortable underwear
3. Let's work on: Crazy uncomfortable underwear
Foot binding may have ended, but the 1800s called, and they want their underwear back. Apparently, women today live in constant fear that (gasp!) their panty lines will show, or something. The amount of products out there designed to squish our bodies into a specific shape is staggering. If you're trying to be sexy, note that I have never heard a dude say anything remotely like "ooh, baby, those Spanx are so hot." Why the eff do women wear these things?

Related: 7 things I wish I knew about men before I got married

Let's work on: Not cutting each other downLet's work on: Not cutting each other down
4. Let's work on: Not cutting each other down
I have a feeling that the "war" between working moms and stay-at-home moms is almost entirely a myth perpetrated by the media. But it's true that women do a lot of critiquing of other women, whether it's on how we look or how we parent. Try having a conversation about breastfeeding on Facebook if you want to see how vitriolic things can become.


Let's work on: Lack of women in politics Let's work on: Lack of women in politics
5. Let's work on: Lack of women in politics
There are clearly not enough women in politics. As proof, I give you the sausage-fest that was last month's Congressional hearing on birth control. The House Oversight Committee, which hosted the hearing, has 40 members, of which only two are women. The panel of witnesses who testified about birth control contained exactly zero people with a uterus. If that doesn't make you sit back and say WTF, I don't know what will.

- By Joslyn Gray

For 5 more things we can thank feminists for -- and 5 more areas still need help, visit Babble!

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