Thursday, March 12, 2015

Gender Isn't Even Real It's A Social Construct

The roles women of the 19th century had to fulfill revolved around the needs and wants of men in their society. They worked hard and were given no credit nor paid for their effort. Their main job was to marry and take care of the family. The world of a woman then was pictured as this:

“The Sphere of Woman”  illustration from Godey's  Lady's Book, March  1850
Found at: http:// whw/workshop/ untitled1.html
It shows her household duties; taking care of the children, teaching them their schoolwork, repairing their toys, keeping everything clean, making family's clothing, and keeping up their appearances. The home is high class, with fancy curtains to keep the feminine efforts hidden from the world. The picture is clearly unrealistic, no siblings get along that well, no mother who did that much work would look that calm, and kids are never that peaceful. These jobs weren't only an aim for women to strive to achieve but expected and enforced by the legal and social laws of the time.

The movement for female equality was started by abolitionists who realized in fighting for the rights of colored men they were fighting for rights that they themselves and other women didn't even have. In an attempt to oppose the ridiculous laws and rules oppressing half the nation's population, the Declaration of Rights and Sentiments was created. It was written to mimic the Declaration of Independance, the familiar wording meant to show the oppression of women and how it stood in contrast to the American ideals of freedom. The lists of grievances and resolutions directly addressed the laws and standards women were held to. It was signed by 68 women and 32 men from the Seneca Falls Convention for women's rights. This push for equality was met with many reactions and opinions from the media. 

Some reacted positively, encouraging female rights, while some mocked the movement, laughing at the idea of women doing things. The reporters for both had no qualms about sharing their opinions, both sides expecting to be correct. One of the most positive responses came from the National Reformer of September 14th, 1848. It points out the unfairness of expecting women to follow laws that they weren't even allowed to vote on. The National Reformer has many articles on the rights of women, all strongly in support of the movement. But as all human rights issues, there were many strongly opposed to the idea of ending oppression. The Oneida Whig had serious issues with females spending all their time voting and getting paid, they begged for an answer to the question, "If our ladies will insist on voting and legislating, where, gentlemen, will be our dinners and our elbows?" They were deeply confused and concerned as to how on Earth they would be fed if women dared to participate in the democracy of America.

Recently there has been much debate on how equal men and women are and whether women are treated differently from men. Many men and women look back on the past and go, "look how terribly females were treated we are 100% equal now!" and really we have come very far since the days of not allowing women to vote or own property. But does society react differently to men than they do to women? The answer is yes. Has there ever been a female president of the United States? No, and while it's easy to blame that on chance and the lack of a good candidate if you look at the reasoning behind not voting for a woman, there is a lot of pure sexism. This real news report was actually 100% serious in reasoning against women being leaders.

"There has got to be some downside to having a woman president, right?"

I mean really this alone could show the way people still believe women aren't as good as men but we'll look at this more thoroughly. In the video Bill O'Reilly states, "There haven't been that many strong women leaders." and this is a true statement, in national parliaments, and other leadership positions women are vastly outnumbered. America is ranked 83rd by equality in government in the UN's Women in Politics statistic map with 18.3% women in the lower/single house and 20% in the upper house/senate. Americans can say what they want about equality but Afghanistan is #41, with an avg of 27.6% women in their government, they are ranked twice as high as America.

What is the problem with having less women in politics? Well we already saw how in the 19th century people were mad because they didn't get to vote for leaders who then made laws they had to follow. The number of people in leadership positions is the amount of representation the group gets when laws that affect them are made. Recently the controversy about abortion has been brought up and leaves mostly men in charge of deciding the legality in a woman's decision about her body.

While women do now get to vote for leaders it's hard to pick female leaders when there are so few to choose from. Women are discouraged from going after leadership roles from the beginning and it just gets harder as they grow up. Female candidates are always attacked in media for the tiniest things and made to look incompetent through every minute detail of their lives.

Popular TV show "Parks and Recreation" (famous for its feminist protagonist Leslie Knope played by real life feminist and comedian Amy Poehler) shows how women are treated during elections and speaks against the discrimination. [Full episode]

The reason women are so harshly criticized? The majority of journalists are men. And most female journalists report on stereotypically "feminine" topics, like health and beauty, while the males report on the big issues.

In fact if you read the full report of The Status of Women in the U. S. Media 2014, pretty much all areas of media are male dominated. Newspapers, magazines, radio, sports journalism, gaming, social media, digital news, and worst of all, television and films.

The lack of female perspective in society makes it easy to avoid women's issues and set standards for women to meet. The amount of females population wise is equal to that of men, yet the power of women is still much lower. Media is how people get their information on everything. Media tells us how to live in the ideal way, it influences a person's opinion on how people should do their hair, wear their clothes, feel about topics, what car to drive, and what is right or wrong. Media is run by white old men and holds complete power over society, what is seen on TV or listed on a top 10 list on a blog is the standard.

The portrayal of women in media is not great. Models are tall, toned, and flawless complete with digital editing to give them that perfect physically-impossible-to-achieve look. Most movie protagonists are boys, who always end up getting the hot girl in the end. The plotline for a female character usually revolves around some boy.

Girls are taught to center their lives around a guy and that the most important thing is to be attractive. 'Do this so guys will like you' 'Don't do that, no one will date you.' Not only are they taught their worth is about their sexuality but it's enforced anyways. Heidi Klum once saved someone from drowning in the ocean and all the headlines focused on was that her bikini top slipped during it. Girls are blamed for tempting men in cases of rape and sexual harassment while the boys in these situations are treated as the victims, the death of a football career and scholarship while the real victim deals with trauma and worse.

The music industry has been called out on its misogynistic themes in rap especially. But its not the only one. There is an extreme lack of any female musicians in rock bands. The top 40s charts are filled with songs about the importance of sex and no one blinks an eye when 8 year olds sing along. The rap scene is famous for it's glorification of violence and sex. In media the ideal man has money, muscles, and multiple girls at his beck and call, they are usually nameless and pretty obviously only there for sex. A guy is more powerful if he's tougher than another guy.

Society has been taught to value men for their 'masculinity'. If a guy is respectful or emotional in any way that seems 'feminine' he's instantly labeled gay and then made fun of. This 1) is really homophobic and heteronormative and 2) builds a negative view on females.

The way men then come to defend their masculinity is through violence and abuse of women, men are supposed to be dominant and so the opposite must be true as well, women must be submissive. In every movie, book, and TV show the hero gets the super attractive girl in the end. Boys are taught that girls are prizes to be won. They are there to award sex for whatever masculine thing a guy does.

Somewhere In America

Girls take in the same media with another message. The ultimate goal is to get the boy and other girls are competition. Girl hate is the result of internalized misogyny. It is the root of phrases like "she's a slut" and the idea of being "not like the other girls". While men are praised for their sexuality women are shamed for it, weird isn't it. The "other girls" are slutty, prudish, petty, stupid, weak, etc. in the eyes of society. The idea of not being like the other girls is stupid and only encourages the harsh critiquing. The movie about high school where the nerd is the heroine because all the other girls are stuck up preps who only care about their hair, yeah that's where this comes from. "She wears short skirts, I wear tee-shirts, she's cheer captain and I'm on the bleachers." Okay? You're better than her why? (Taylor Swift has realized she was problematic and apologized don't be mean to her) Girls praise guys and think pictures of them shirtless are hot and once a girl does it she's a slut. Girls destroy each other for being whores, prudes, idiots, nerds, suck ups, fake, etc. when they should be encouraging each other and not valuing a person for how attractive they are to other people.

The girl hate cycle reinforces the problematic ideas that being a stereotypical girl is insulting. Guys don't want to be feminine and now girls don't want to be feminine. Why? Because femininity is seen as a bad thing. The more pink a girl wears in a show, the stupider and more hated a girl is in a show. Femininity is used to show the characters who are mean, stupid, shallow, and afraid of everything. The colors pink and blue are used to symbolize the two genders and usually in media, express the role of the person wearing them.

Why is a guy wearing pink so strange? He's being feminine and that's not right. Boys have their things and girls have to be the opposite. But gender is not an opposing set of characteristics. If a boy is strong it doesn't mean girls are weak, yet that's how it is viewed. If men are supposed to be dominant, women are meant to be submissive. Girls who do traditionally 'masculine' things are told they're faking it for male attention or are gay. The amount of girls who are verbally harassed in video games is sad. And guys are allowed to wear their "nice story babe, go make me a sandwich" and "get back in the kitchen" t shirts with no consequences because it's 'funny'.

Women don't hold many leadership positions in society. It's hard to when everyone tries to hold you back. Men find it insulting to work under a woman and often undermine her achievements to feel dominant again. Girls are told they're bossy when they try to take charge and eventually girls stop trying to, to avoid the judgment they face in those roles. They put in less effort to get a position of power and are then given less positions of power, only further creating inequality in power.

Also, people who say the wage gap isn't real? What is that about? There is literally statistical proof and if it still seems fake here's some guides.

And of course then we're at the hatred of feminism. If a girl dares to call herself a feminist and desires less violence and equal pay she's met with a variety of responses. There's the classic "feminazi" label, because the end of sexism is the same as religious genocide. Theres the rape jokes and threats because if someone is against objectification all they really need is forced sex. The violence threats like "if women want to be equal can I hit a girl?" Which is a serious problem because if your first reaction to equality is that you can be violent towards them that doesn't really make sense; Also, that's kind of one of the issues. Domestic abuse is an extremely widespread problem and part of this equity thing is the END of hitting girls.

The most common response lately is "Men are oppressed too." The problem here is that this minimizes the issues women face and feminism works to fix the problems men have.  "Men get raped too." Is another part of this. The problem there is that you're using that to erase women's abuse. And it's not girls who tell guys "It's not rape because he should enjoy it" It's other guys. Men get raped is a full sentence, once you add "too" you're using it to shut up other victims.

Once a guy was trying to tell me that rape wasn't a problem because it doesn't kill so feminists all just cry over nothing and when I tried to explain to him what male - privilege - is . he told me, that female privilege is being able to pull down your shirt and get out of a parking ticket for being female. Because that solves the problem of objectification....

Fox News recently said Frozen was a bad influence to boys and that there is too much representation of women in Hollywood

Women who speak up against the lack of power they have in society are attacked for being man hating, oppressive, ugly, and usually queer. Because obviously if a girl doesn't like men being in charge she is just too ugly to attract men and instead became a lesbian. This leads to girls defending themselves by saying they are straight and pretty and ends up excluding any girls who are queer or don't fit the standards of beauty.

Beyonce knows a girl can express her sexuality and it says nothing about not respecting herself

Society is not there yet. For more information click on the links throughout the post and read this book on gender and stuff. You can pay with a tweet  for free and get a digital copy it's really cool.
This post didn't even talk about gender queer individuals but sexism is even worse towards them.

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