May 13, 2016

That Time I Talked About the Continuing Devaluation of Women in Our Society

Editors Note: Now that my classes this session are over (thank you sweet baby Jesus!), I feel more comfortable sharing with you some of the essays, or parts of them, that were assigned. I'm probably going to spread them out over the next couple weeks/months, because they are about some controversial topics. So, consider yourself warned!

Women have made great advances in society, especially since the mid twentieth century. We won the right to vote, we fought for our right to receive an education, then to enter the workforce without discrimination, and eventually started earning more comparable wages as compared to men. Many opportunities have opened up that allow women to be able to be political leaders, CEOs of major corporations, or even own their own business. However, women and the roles they play in society are still continually devalued by more than one social institution. 

When picturing the proverbial American Dream, one normally pictures a husband who works in business, a housewife who always has a clean home and a pie in the oven, and two kids (ideally one boy and one girl) who are straight A students. This family lives in a cookie cutter house in a polished suburban neighborhood, and perhaps there is a golden retriever in their evergreen yard that is bordered with a white picket fence. It's a scene straight out of an Andy Hardy film from the 1930s. Movies, television shows, music, commercials, books, they all emphasize and point us to this patriarchal version of society where women and children are to be seen and not heard. If a woman is confident and assertive she is more likely to be perceived as a “bitch” rather than a strong leader or an ambitious go-getter if she were a man. When they work full time, women are portrayed as bad or uncaring parents and/or spouses, while men are praised for putting in tons of overtime and spending weeks away on business trips. 

Now let's talk money. While the gender wage gap may be smaller for women in the same field as men, the wage gap between career fields is large. Professions generally held by majority women, such as teachers or nurses, provide significantly lower wages than those professions generally held by a majority of men. Why? Who decided that engineering was more important, and therefore more monetarily valuable, than a teacher? Why is an investment banker worth more than the nurses who save lives every day? Our own government still does not have any plans to increase the wages for those professions generally held by women, and many of these lower wage positions require much more education, training, time, and energy than some of the higher wage positions. 

In a video we watched about the myth of the gender wage gap (watch it here), the man said that women make less money because they make bad choices for a career. Excuse me? Bad choices? If everyone in the United States went after the same higher paying jobs, who would be left to teach, and nurse, and take care of your infants and toddlers while you are working at your high paying job? Makes no sense. 

The man in that video also said that women should be encouraged to go for jobs usually held by men, like engineering or sciences. That's all fine and dandy, but he failed to take it the other way; it was as if he implied that men are much too valuable and should not be encouraged to apply for those jobs usually held by women that would go unfilled, if women are supposed to apply for “men’s jobs”. 

Ok. Say a woman does land a snazzy, high paying job. Then she gets married and decides to have a baby. In the United States, employers are not eager to offer paid maternity leave, and the maternity leave most women do receive is mediocre at best. Mothers get up to 12 weeks or unpaid time off, however many women, a majority that are minorities, cannot afford to stay home the entire 12 weeks without pay and are forced to return to work sometimes before they have even healed properly (what?!). This situation is a bit skewed, no? Modern women are expected to apply for the aforementioned “male jobs”, raise kids, keep the house tidy, and be dutiful wives all at the same time, but are not equally compensated or supported by our patriarchal capitalist society for trying to live up to those high expectations.

Something's got to give at some point, amiright? 

What are your thoughts on this?

P.S. I WILL NOT tolerate any hateful, vulgar, or rude comments to myself or any other person commenting on this post. If you cannot put your big girl panties/big boy boxers and have an adult discussion about this topic please do not comment at all. If you do, your comment will be deleted. Thank you.

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