OP-ED: Off with tradition’s head


Mrs. Rose

Student, Sam Waters, stands in the halls of Lambert with confidence in her talking points.

It’s not surprising that a nation built under the principle of “all MEN are created equal” would discriminate against women.  In today’s society the traditional roles, values, and thoughts placed upon women from prehistoric times still play a central part in the inequality women consistently face.  The day I no longer have to worry about what I’m wearing will label me as a “slut,” is the day that women will be thought of as more than just sexual objects.  The day I can be praised for my brains instead of my beauty, is the day men and women will be considered equal. This is the future I hope to foster.  This is the future where the line “all men are created equal” means all humans and not just men.

Since the start of the agricultural revolution, social structure has moved from egalitarian to patriarchal.  Men were stronger and thus more valuable in handling the labor of farming, while women were left to take care of the house and children.  Even though in the past fifteen years society has made great leaps towards equality, society is still far from egalitarian.  The oppressive traditional roles from the Neolithic era are still shoved down a woman’s throat from an early age.  A woman is expected to stay at home and raise the kids, instead of going off to work and leaving the kids with a nanny.  The essay, “Turkey’s in the Kitchen”, highlights how women are trained to work in the kitchen, whereas most men are inept when it comes to anything cooking related.  School systems perpetuated this idea even further by enrolling women into sexist home economic classes, while men took shop class (Barry 74).  As a result of this mental conditioning, society has made it near impossible to remove this choking apron.  This shows the expected traditional roles women are expected to partake in. In addition, according to “The Daily Caller”, in 2013, only 31% of mothers stay at home, as opposed to 70% in 1960.  However, despite this increase of women in the work field, 51% of Americans still say that children are better off if the woman stays at home, yet only 8% said the same for men. This survey shows how a majority of society fears a shift in traditional roles of women.  People fear change, especially when these changes are occurring in ideologies that have been engrained into them by society from early on; nonetheless, in order to achieve a more equal world the stifling confines of traditional roles must be shattered.

Clearly, society has certain expectations of what’s sociably “acceptable” for women.  For instance, if a man wore a low V-neck shirt, no one would look twice, but if a woman wore a low V-neck shirt, her moral integrity is called into question.  She is thought of as pining for attention or having low self esteem.  But, consider for even a fraction of a second that maybe she wore the shirt because it made her happy and more confident.  Maybe if men could control their sexual urges, schools wouldn’t feel the need to enforce a dress code.  Why should I have to censor myself because a man will get “too distracted” in class?  Last time I checked that sounds more like his problem than mine.  Unfortunately, that’s not how a majority of the world views the subject matter, since virtue and modesty are, by cultural equation, the same as family honor (Judith, 104).  However, this dress code affects more than just girls in schools—in many countries, the government itself enforces a kind of dress code.  For instance, in Saudi Arabia, women can’t wear clothes or make-up that “shows off their beauty” (Eleven things women in Saudi Arabia cannot do).  For example, ten students, between the ages of 17 and 23, were arrested outside their church in Khartoum, Sudan and charged with “indecent dress” in June of 2015.  All of the women were wearing long-sleeved shirts and either skirts or trousers, which is common dress wear for Christians in that area.  If convicted, they could be sentenced to 40 lashes (Eltahawy).  Many believe that this is simply a part of the Islamic faith; however, the veiling of women has been practiced in the Mesopotamia region long before Islam came into the picture.  So, why is society allowing the continuation of a custom from the Bronze Age?  Perhaps it’s because men fear a change in what has always been the custom of their society.  Perhaps it’s because men wish to dominate over women; however, if this mindset continues, women will invariably remain less than men.

Lastly, women have always been treated and thought of as inferior to men.  Our opinions and points of views are less important than a man’s.  This mindset explains why there is a lack of women in leadership roles and high paying positions.  According to statistics from The Center of American Progress, “Women make up slightly more than the U.S population (roughly 50.8%), and they earn almost 60% of undergraduate degrees and 60% of all master’s degrees. However, they are only 14.6% of executive officers, 8.1% of top earners, and 4.6% of Fortune 500 CEOs.” These infuriating statistics are directly correlated to the stigma that women are “too emotional”, or aren’t “smart enough” to handle these leadership roles.  As a result of the lack of professional mobility, women remain in stereotypical occupations, thus perpetuating the sexist cycle.  In the essay “The Myth of a Latin Woman: I just met a girl named Maria”, Judith Coffer describes how the stereotype that Latin women “make good domestics”, has been perpetuated by the media. Feminist, Hispanic scholars claim that the media is partially responsible for the denial of opportunities for upward mobility among Latinas in their professions (107-108).  The media shows the “ideal” women as someone who stays home with the children and makes a delicious meatloaf, not a women who is an opinionated CEO.  The sad reality is that traditional dogmas of women being inadequate to handle leadership roles and high positions, are hindering the ability of women to move up in society.

To be sure, women face far worse oppression in other countries like Iran, Afghanistan, and Saudi Arabia, than the women face here in America; women have more rights and privileges that most of us take for granted.  Because of this, many men believe that women arguing over equal rights in countries like America are ungrateful, spoiled, and selfish (Liu).  However, just because a situation could be much worse, it doesn’t make the discrimination women face every day, even here in America, any less important.  In addition, feminism is a worldwide phenomenon, not just an isolated movement. Speaking up against the injustices in one country, such as America, can help to inspire more women to do the same in countries where the oppression is far worse.

I can only hope that the future generation of women will only have learned about gender inequality in their textbooks, rather than having to face it in their daily lives.  Society has allowed this discrimination to go on for much too long.  We must correct the mistakes of our ancestors.  If we keep waiting for someone to fix it for us, we will be waiting forever.  The first step we must take towards this brighter future is acceptance.  Everyone needs to accept that gender inequality is a legitimate concern for the world rather than simply sweeping it under the rug.  Second, more women have to be allowed professional mobility; this means more women need access to higher level positions in companies.  Third, and most important, women need to be viewed as more than just a sexual conquest; we are humans with emotions, thoughts, and opinions.  It will be an arduous journey to get to an egalitarian future, but it is possible as long as we continue to speak out against discrimination.  So, be proud to be a part of a social movement that will make history.