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Drawn by the Carnival of Feminists, I visited midlife mama’s article, Second Wave Feminism, Beauvoir, and me, and got into a small conversation about second-wave and third-wave feminism. In her reply, Libby discusses her experiences with the “women are equal already” sentiment that many young people (and some older ones too) hold. I, in my typical fashion, went off on a rant about how much I hate that. And, again in my typical fashion, I want to take the opportunity to elaborate on my point. Disclaimer: This post is Western-centric, with a focus on America/Canada, because that’s where most of my practical experience comes from.
Warning: The following post is a list that links to many examples of why the idea that we Westerners live in a genderblind society, meaning that we have achieved total equality, is a myth. If you are offended by the idea that women may not be content for scraps now that we’ve got the vote, then this is not the list for you. If you are offended by a list about equality that focuses on women, don’t complain about it here. There are many places to discuss men’s issues, this thread is not one of them. This is not a detailed rebuttal or in-depth discussion on the issues presented, although if you take the time to follow the links you may find some those. This is a link list and is aimed at being a launching pad, not the end path, so if you decide to treat it as such then it is your loss, not the list’s fault. And if you are a man who reads this list and thinks that women should stop “whining” about the “small shit” then you are just proving the point that this list is trying to make.
So, without further ado, I present you with some food for thought on equality.
We Can’t Be Equal While:
- Men are the default and women are the Other (and therefore lesser).
- Being called “girly” or a “sissy” or “pussy” are some of the worst insults you can give a man.
- When a woman shows confidence in herself, she is said to “have balls”, or conversely she is a “man-eater”, “ball-buster”, or a “bitch” because she was “too” assertive.
- Men are beat up, ridiculed, or made fun of for being “effeminate” and women are beat up, ridiculed, or made fun of for being “masculine”.
- Many people get angry when a woman questions the intentions behind a “chivalrous” act from a man.
- There are men who refuse “chivalrous” acts from a woman, such as refusing to walk through a door that a woman holds open for them, while believing that it is rude for a woman to exercise the same right to refuse.
- Women can’t express anger without the very real fear of being accused of “hysterics” or being “shrill”.
- Women get scolded for “un-ladylike” behaviour: using coarse language, talking frankly about sex or other “impolite” topics, confidently voicing one’s dissenting opinion, etc.
- People continue to believe and perpetuate gender essentialism based on bad science or using actual studies to “prove” the innateness of gender roles when the study itself supports no such thing.
- For different-sex couples, women are expected to take their husband’s name, or at the very least hyphenate, but many men still balk at the idea of even considering adopting their wife’s name. If a woman decides to keep her name, both partners are interrogated and shamed by friends and family.
- For same-sex couples, people think it is okay to ask “who’s the woman/man of the couple?”
- Women are seen as the “gatekeepers” to morality/sexuality, charged with the duty of fending off the advances of men. If they fail then they were “asking for” it and/or are “damaged goods”. Their clothing/actions will always be questioned to see if they were “leading on” the man at all.
- Men are seen as “beasts” who are unable to control their “raging hormones” – which absolves them of guilt for “improper” sex (anything from date rape to sex outside of marriage) but also paints them as uncivilized brutes.
- Women are “sluts”, men are “players”.
- Women’s worth goes down according to how many sexual partners people think she has had.
- Men’s worth goes up according to how many sexual partners people think he has had.
- We live in a rape culture where many people continue to blame the victims of rape and domestic violence.
- We buy into the myth that all men (even minors) are, at all times, willing to fuck a “gorgeous” woman and any man who would pass up sex with a remotely attractive woman is deserving of ridicule.
- Wives/mothers are still expected to do most of the home/childcare, even if they have a job outside the home.
- Fathers/husbands are seen as bumbling dolts who are mentally incapable of cooking, cleaning, taking care of the children, or any other traditionally feminine task.
- There are significantly more stay-at-home moms than there are dads.
- Men are expected to pay on a date, and some men expect women to put out for this “service”.
- Men continue to be a clear majority in the government, prominent positions in businesses, and other public places of power.
- There have been so few female leaders in most countries. For instance, in the Group of Eight:
- America has never had a female president.
- Canada’s first, and only, female prime minister was Kim Campell .
- Britain’s first, and only, female prime minister was Margaret Thatcher [1979-1990].
- France’s first, and only, female prime minister was Edith Cresson [1991-1992].
- Italy has never had a female prime minister.
- Japan has never had a female prime minister.
- Russia has never had a female president.
- Germany’s first, and only, female Chancellor is Angela Merkel .
- Pakistan, which is held up by many Americans as a “backward” country regarding women’s rights, elected a female prime minister, Benazir Bhutto, twice while Americans were still debating whether or not America was “ready” for a female president (here are some other female leaders who have been elected while America has been dragging its feet).
- There are still areas in our so-called “equal” societies where sex discrimination, sexual harassment and the glass ceiling are alive and kicking.
- It’s considered “big news” when articles tell mothers who work outside the home that they “can’t have it all”, but not so much when articles call for work reforms and male responsibility.
- Women in the sex trade, even those who have chosen the life, are treated as sub-human on a regular basis.
- It is not seen as sex discrimination to include harmful (and expensive!) items such as makeup and high heels in the requirements for a woman’s dress code while having no such constraints on the men’s dress code.
- Women are still discouraged from entering the sciences by social stereotypes, lack of job availability, and the continuing belief that women just aren’t smart enough.
- It is considered appropriate to attack a female public figure because of her appearance and fashion sense.
- One of the first ways to discredit women who speak up in public forums is to threaten sexual violence.
- Women are disproportionately affected by fat discrimination in the workforce and other places.
- Men’s bodies belong to no one but themselves; women’s uteri are seen as the property of men, the government, and even strangers.
- Women’s place as full-fledged legal and social adults is not assured.
- Women are seen first and foremost by their physical attributes and secondly by their relevant qualities.
- The double-standard of beauty is camouflaged under myths of empowerment and liberation.
- Women feel the need to undergo a potentially dangerous operation on their healthy vaginas in order to please their husbands/boyfriends by striving towards an unrealistic beauty standard set by mainstream porn.
- It is seen as appropriate for stranger and friend alike to give unsolicited comments on a woman’s appearance: her weight, fashion, leg/armpit hair, etc.
- Eating disorders, caused primarily by our society’s unhealthy obsession with fat, are still rampant among women (significantly more than among men).
- There are contests like “Pimp My Ride”.
Relationships, Sex, and Sexuality
The Public Sphere
Appearance, Bodily Sovereignty, and Personhood
And many, many other reasons.
Last Updated: February 9, 2008.