I have always considered myself to be an educated feminist, someone who is aware of the limitations on being a woman in a man’s world. As a student of history, I have come to understand that before there were inequalities between races, there were inequalities between the sexes. Ideas gender and gender roles only feeds into a culture of sexism and sexism hurts everyone.
You would think that in our day and age, we would have evolved more as a species but in all honesty, we are still fighting the same battles that we were a century ago. Women in many parts of the world as still seen as less than their male counter parts. No matter how many steps forward we take here in Western developed nations, women still are making less than their male counter parts in similar jobs . As much as I would like to see humanity grow beyond the need for our current consumer system, I don’t see that happening anytime soon, which means we still reply on jobs to pay for our basic needs as humans.
I am an independent woman. I own my own car, I control my own finances, and I take care of my own household. I am so independent that I have no need of a male counterpart to take on those tasks that have been traditionally held by men. In the same way I see men in my life who are still single taking on skills and tasks once held by women. We are reaching a point where our roles are no longer defined by our sex/gender.
I love and respect the men in my life and while there are only a few of them who hold onto old world ideas about women and occasionally don’t speak about women with the greatest respect, I give them the forgiveness to try again tomorrow. Most men who have met me will learn very quickly if I think they have spoken or acted in any disrespect. I don’t hesitate to tell them they are out of line and need to change their tunes. I have dated a few men who over time showed their true colors of being sexist in both their treatment of me and other men and women. It doesn’t take long for me to leave them once I speak to them about it and see that they have no desire to change.
With the #metoo movement and the expose of the abuses in the politics, Hollywood, and the music industry, many women and men are joining in on the chorus of voices that have had enough of a culture of sexual harassment and abuse. In order for the pendulum to swing to normal, it has to swing to an extreme and this means that we have to act more politically correct and hypersensitive for a while before we can find the balance where it’s normal to treat each other with mutual respect.
A friend of mine once gave me a keychain that read: Woman by birth, Bitch by choice. I haven’t associated words like Bitch, Whore, Cunt, Pussy, or Slut of personal negativity in a long time. I know that they are intended to be words meant to control women and subjugate them to male power. Any word used to degrade women can be used to degrade men. They are used to make men feel less male by associating them with women as if women were less than men. If you take the power out of words, they can’t hurt you or anyone else for that matter.
This bring me to the issues of body image, clothing, and make-up. The biggest villain of sexism in our culture is the media and consumerism. Our biology is being overrun with our minds trying to fit in an unreasonable view of what our bodies should look like. When once upon a time large women were more desirable because they could survive better in times of scarcity they are now ridiculed. We are constantly judging each other by what we wear, what cars we drive, and anything else that is being sold to us. We have a media culture that picks women on one body type for movies, music, and television and a porn industry that creates unrealistic views of what our sexual intimacy should look like.
Then there’s the clothing industry which hasn’t changed its view on what men and women can wear since the late 19th century. I think in this regard, men have suffered the most because women have more diversity in clothing options. It is still unacceptable for men to wear skirts because they are seen as women only clothing. Which brings be back to the point about men being seen as lesser when they are associated as women. We have to stop thinking about objects that are for women as being less than those for men. I will say it again, sexism hurts everyone!
There are so many aspects of feminism and gender inequality that I could get into that still need to be addressed and changed on the consciousness of our whole society. From child care rights to gender specific jobs in the workforce, we still have a long way to go before both women and men are on the same page. If you add the issues of racism and ethnocentrism into the mix, we need to become more enlightened as a species before we can even begin to move beyond our current limitations.
What is the key to all of this? Education, of course. Investing in the education of girls and encouraging them to see the world beyond their socio economic situation and their cultural limitations only helps the nations in which women are seen as lesser than men. There is scientific proof that shows that when women are educated, the nation improves both culturally and economically. It’s like thinking with only half of your brain when you educate only men. There are over seven billion humans on Earth and half of them are women. If you help girls overcome the idea that science and technology is only for boys, you see the results of improvements in all fields of academia.
In the late 90s, there was a upturn in women enrolling in the sciences in something that was dubbed “The Scully Effect”. I have spoken about my love for Dana Scully previously but I didn’t go into depth about her characters influence on women enrolling in the sciences.
In more recent media, we have The Hunger Games and Katniss Everdeen and The 100 with its whole cast of strong female leaders in all fields from science to leadership. We can even look to Wonder Woman for proof that movies about solo female superheroes can be successful. The lead character in the new Star Wars films, Rey, shows that someone from no education can overcome it to be one of the most enlightened people in the galaxy.
What we need now is recognition of our real world female leaders in politics, science, art, and technology. My hero in American politics right now is Senator Elizabeth Warren. She not only calls out bullshit when she sees it but she’s active in advocating the need for affordable education and healthcare. I would love to see her as the first female American president.
As for women who are making waves in science, please check out this link. These women are making not only history in their fields but changing our world for the better. If they had not been given the chances to success by having access to education, our world would be less for it. Just think of all those women in the world who are being oppressed and not given the chance to learn and become education. Can you imagine if every girl and boy in the world had access to the same education and where we would be today if it weren’t for sexism?
I could honestly go on and on about my views on feminism and ways we can overcome it but I am not ready to write a book on it at this point. I will finish up by sharing this playlist of rad female musicians from around the world!
~Clara D. Munro