Fear-mongering is women’s biggest threat in U.S. today

In the current political climate, there’s one issue that has long stood as a centerpiece for how certain people vote: women’s rights. This issue has seemingly never been as relevant as it is now, with the rise of third-wave feminism, Donald Trump’s election as president and the election loss by Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton.

However, there is one common point that liberal voters often ignore: women in the first world in 2017 are the most privileged in human history, and no matter how much people want to build it up, this simple fact will hold true for a long, long time.

Many voters on the left have written off Trump’s election as a sign that women’s rights in the West will soon plummet, with these voters painting Trump as a literal anti-Christ who wants nothing more than to turn women back into the property we were in the 1700s. This vilification becomes more extreme when it comes to Trump’s cabinet choices.

The “gender pay gap,” women’s right to get an abortion and out-of-control rape statistics—leading to the ridiculous claim that the United States has a “rape culture”—all have led to a sort of over-exaggeration that we in the West are somehow in danger. The wage gap—simply the difference in average-earnings of men and women working in full-time jobs—is often cited as a reason why we need feminism in the West. The truth of the matter is that women often pick college majors that lead to lower-earning careers overall.

Statistics by payscale.com report that female-dominated majors such as Fashion Design, Interior Design and Elementary Education lead to an average income of roughly $38,000. Comparatively, male-dominated majors like construction management, mechanical engineering and electrical engineering report an average income of roughly $70,000, an increase of nearly 85 percent.

This gap is also greatly influenced by time. As reported by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, men in 1980 earned an inflation-adjusted average of $18.57 per hour, compared to $11.95 for women. Meanwhile, 2013 statistics show men earning roughly $17.79, a decrease of nearly 10 percent, compared to women’s earnings of $14.90, an increase of 25 percent, Payscale reports.

The spread of rape and sexual assault statistics have also led to many voters reprimanding President Trump. For instance, the Association of American Universities statistic that “1 in 4” female college students will be raped has often been spread throughout social media. But how accurate is this statistic?

A closer look shows that only 11 percent reported being sexually harassed in a way that lines up with the true criminal definition of rape. Included in this statistic were acts of consensual drunk sex, minor acts of sexual assault and various other forms of assault that simply do not fall under the legal definition of rape.

While it may be violating to be sexually assaulted—and sexual assault cases certainly shouldn’t be ignored—lumping them into the same category as rape only muddles the definition of rape. If we correlate these two things, it would also be much more likely that college administrators could mishandle individual cases.

Despite this, many still use statistics like this to claim a “rape culture” in the West, when the term simply isn’t applicable.

We need to do more than just take the statistics we see and the news we read online at face value. We need to put context, unbiased reporting and honesty above lies that fit a narrative we want to push. And the fact is, in 2017, women in the West simply aren’t oppressed.

-Kylie Yeatman