About this sample
About this sample
Words: 1761 |
9 min read
Published: Jul 30, 2019
Words: 1761|Pages: 4|9 min read
Not so long-ago women were seen as merely a piece of property, this “improved” to them being expected to simply be the husband’s “yes man” and submit to whatever he says without having an individual opinion, to now, finally somewhat having a voice and more equal opportunities. Women have undoubtedly come a long way throughout history; in the United States and most developed nations, women have achieved further equal rights on a legal basis.
However, even in developed, western nations women’s rights and gaining full equality and respect has not been achieved in every practice. Women are still objectified and sexualized in the media, delegitimized in politics, and hushed or silenced in many religious organizations and private institutions.
Feminism is still needed today because it challenges the patriarchal assumptions made in all spheres of life including the church, academia, politics/economy, and society/media. As long as women are being excluded from positions of power and equality in the workplace, sexualized in society, and dismissed in academia this movement will continue to be needed. To fight for a cause, one must also be able to define it and clearly lay out its importance of the said movement. This idea of feminism was born in the 19th century and was controversial from day one.
Many people are quickly made uneasy by even the word “feminism” because they have an incorrect conception of what feminism and fighting for women’s rights really are. Feminism does not mean men-hating. Often times people assume feminists are a bunch of angry women blaming the all the world’s problems on men. Although there may be some cases of this, that is not at all what feminism is. In fact, women are often apart of the problem society has even when addressing basic respect for women!
Women are often times the worst and most critical to each other, which will be further discussed later. Webster’s dictionary defines feminism as, “the advocacy of women’s rights on the basis of the sexes.” The goal of this movement, then, is to find the areas in all different aspects of life where culture has fallen short on equality for men and women. In this day and age, it is crucial to get women, along with other voices of other people on the margin, in positions of power to offer their unique perspective and to challenge the patriarchal norm.
Studies have shown that there is an increasing number of women with income poverty. Back in the earlier years of American history, there was a very large and very obvious income and wage gap between men and women’s salaries. During WWII, men went off to war, so women took over their factory jobs for a while.
However, when a lot of the men returned and wanted their jobs back, some women kept them. This was the start of the wage gap. Factory owners figured men were typically the head of households and the ultimate provider, so they therefore gave women a lesser wage. Eventually, however, this also began the Equal Pay Act of 1963, so there could be no discrimination of pay based on sex (Rutherford, 230). This is still a problem, but in more recent years the wage gap is decreasing in terms of well-being, but not decreasing in income so much.
Mayra Buvinic, author of Women in Poverty: A New Global Underclass, explains it well, she says, “The evidence is imperfect, but current trends suggest that women account for a growing proportion of those people who are considered poor on the basis of income, not only in industrial countries such as the United States, but also in the developing world.”
This ‘feminization of poverty’, as Diana Pearce named it, should be a more pressing matter and concern than it is currently. In 1995, it was found at the Fourth United Nations World Conference that women account for 70% of the world’s poor (Chant par. 1). What is the reason for the increase in poor and homeless women? Why are women struggling with poverty so much more than men are?
Women all over the world struggle with this, each with a different story and background, not one common thread or theme to underlie this issue, except that they are women. Again, Buvinic spells out the problems faced by women well, “All women face similar obstacles to increasing their economic power: no “slack” time to invest in additional work for more income, lack of commercial credit, and training in specifically “female”- low-wage- skills.”
Perhaps the most commonly spoken about and obvious wage gap and injustice in salaries based on gender is seen in Hollywood. This wage-inequality is undoubtedly a result from sexual harassment. Matt Lauer, previous co-anchor on the Today show who was fired for inappropriate sexual behavior, was reportedly paid $18 million more than the woman who replaced him, Hoda Kotb. Another huge outcry of salary injustice in Hollywood between male and female was with Mark Wahlberg and Michelle William’s in their movie All the Money in the World.
Wahlberg was reportedly paid 1,500 times more than Williams, even though she was undoubtedly the main character and received a Golden Globe nomination. There are many more examples of this salary inequality in Hollywood. Sexual harassment and power dynamics (meaning “you ask, you get” but often times women do not feel safe or respected enough to ask for a higher salary or their “team” does not fight as hard for them), are the cause of this wage gap seen in Hollywood and other work places throughout the world.
The force behind gender discrimination is, indeed, the objectification of women. Eleanor Bloxham, CEO of The Value Alliance and Corporate General Alliance, explains well how workplace harassment is such a complicated issue and she also displays some solutions. She shows how successful, high-performing women are often bullied and torn down from men and women alike.
This, of course, discourages a lot of women from reaching for the top whether that be from fear of persecution from colleagues, or because they have no backing or support. Bloxham believes this, and the fact that men are causing an uproar because they claim that the necessity of having board member diversity discriminates against them and makes it harder for them to reach the top, is causing the inequality in the workplace. Women still only have a low 20 percent of board seats across America! She believes this problem is easily fixed, she says,
some solutions would be easy to implement, if the will existed. Unequal pay could be fixed by eliminating ranges of pay for specific jobs and awarding team rather than individual bonuses. Quotas at every rank could be installed to retrain expectations… It would be easy to require that one of every two senators and every other president be a woman. And these fixes could also help address destructive, hyper-competitive work cultures.
The objectification of women does not only make it harder for women to be more successful in the workplace, but it truly affects every woman everywhere. “Sexual objectification has been linked to a variety of negative psychological outcomes for women including internalization of this objectification, body shame, disordered eating, depression, and posttraumatic stress symptoms.”
The media has set an unhealthy expectation on girls, that one has to be skin and bones to be beautiful and valued by men. This attributes not only to poor self-esteem issues in women and young girls, but also to self-harm as well. Media also seems to show men that women are theirs to take and consume. That is why sexual violence is the most common form of lived traumas. Many people see women as being there for their pleasure, and that is seen even in our political leaders.
In the 2016 United States Presidential election, Trump was found guilty of objectification of women in several different ways. He not only commented on the sex appeal of his wife and his opponent, Hillary Clinton, but some of his past very vulgar comments on sexual touching came to the surface. One particular tape of Trump that came out during the 2016 election recorded our now President bragging about grabbing and groping women (ABC News).
The very leader of our nation boasting about sexually harassing women shows society that it is acceptable and even expected for men to objectify women. The media is constantly objectifying women, and that objectification is what leads to acts of sexual violence. A solution to this problem would be to decrease these objectifying images of women on mainstream media and to then increase images of women that are more humanizing.
Another solution to this problem is to stop making it an okay and even expected thing by brushing off crude comments by saying something along the lines of “boys will be boys”. Sarah J. Gervais, student at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, further illustrates solutions to decrease sexual violence. She says,
To combat such ideas, public service announcements (PSAs) could be created featuring prominent male government leaders (e.g., the President), professional athletes, or famous actors with individuals highlighting statistics of the negative consequences of objectifying treatment and indicating that they and most men they know do not treat women as sex objects. Such an approach would inform the viewer of the deleterious consequences of objectification, but also subtly shift people’s perceptions about the acceptability of objectification.
Bottom line is this: society needs to do whatever it takes to clearly show that sexual harassment and violence is simply not okay. Parents need emphasize the importance of respecting women and treating them as human beings, not things to take and consume. Coaches and any other by-standers to “locker-room talk” need to make it known that objectification is unacceptable. Society needs to listen to the stories of women having to live in constant fear due to a past sexual assault to raise empathy. The feminist movement is important because it gives a voice to all the women who are victim to sexual violence, and states clearly that this is not okay.
The feminist movement is still needed because it continues to show the importance of gender inclusion and equality in the workplace and positions of power and continues to expose the sick objectification of women seen everywhere. Feminists are still needed because otherwise society would probably not even notice that women have a much lesser income and more and more are becoming impoverished every day. Feminism is needed to challenge the patriarchal systems. Yes, society has come a long way in female inclusion over the centuries, but it still has a long way to go.
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