What does it mean to be a woman? The idiom, “be one’s own woman” means to be free from restrictions, control, or dictatorial or influence(Dictionary.com). As a child, everything related to gender roles seemed so simple. From what I observed in my community, the mother was the one who stayed home to make food and take care of the kids while the husband was working throughout the day earning money for the family. As soon as I was 13, new thoughts and feelings had taken over my mind. All I thought about was women not being treated right. Then, I started reading some articles to be inspired by powerful women. I read a speech by Michelle Obama and it confirmed my thoughts about this issue. During the Presidential Election of 2016, Michelle Obama was giving speeches in different states to show her support for Hillary Clinton and Tim Kaine and to persuade the people to vote for her. One of her quotes that stood out for me and that showed the reason why people should have voted for Clinton is, ”See, because many of these girls have faced unthinkable obstacles just to attend school, jeopardizing their personal safety, their freedom, risking the rejection of their families and communities.” The fact that women were still fighting for basic human rights made me angry.
"We do as much. We eat as much. We want as much"
All at once, things I saw everyday, which I thought were normal, were finally coming to light and it all made sense. Walking down the street, I would see women walking and enjoying the day while the men on the street were staring and talking to their friends about that woman's body. Suddenly, my earlier understandings of how men and women treated each other had changed. At this age I knew that I couldn’t do much but I had realized that this was an issue I knew had to be addressed.
In the beginning, I wasn’t too open about this topic. I didn’t tell anyone because I wasn’t sure of how my friends or family would react to this new thinking. I kept my thoughts to myself, so I decided to express my feelings by writing a diary. Everyday when I would come across an incident related to gender inequality, I would write it down and then research more into this. I turned 14 and I was even more passionate about this topic than ever. I would read the latest news that involved new developments to this problem. I started talking to my parents about this issue and what they thought about it. They told me that if gender inequality was something I strongly believed in, then I should aware more people of this issue. This changed my thinking and encouraged me to delve deeper into this topic.
I read so many articles over the year that helped me learn more about gender inequality. A few articles that I read in 2016 were more about the development of this problem and the presidential election. Women all around the world have been fighting for gender equality. Belinda Luscombe from TIME Magazine wrote an article explaining how if women made less, they would feel worse and motivate themselves to work harder while if men made less than women, they would feel the need to cheat. According to Luscombe, “As [women] earn more their psychological well being rises. And when they earn less, they feel worse. Unlike the men, women’s health didn’t seem to be affected by their earning status within the family.”(Luscombe). Results from a study show that men who make a lot more than their spouses or earn less than them, are more likely to cheat. They can either think that they can because they earn more than their spouse or if they earn less than their spouse, they think that it would “threaten their identity as males” and cheat (Luscombe). The article confirmed my view that women had been discriminated in workplaces and that they worked hard to strive to the top.
As women feel less equal to men in society, they also worry that their gender and sexual identities will not be accepted. Honor Girl by Maggie Thrash is a wonderful graphic novel that shows the struggles of a girl is confused about her identity. Maggie goes to camp where all the girls have small traditions. One of them is to decide which one of the three boys they think is attractive. This hinders her because she can’t decide if she was gay or not. Maggie was afraid to tell others that she was gay and wondered, “You know, like a covert way for gays to identify each other” (54). Maggie asks her friends if there was a “gay code” for her to tell if her crush was gay or not. Maggie had a crush on a girl named Erin, the camp counselor for seniors. This represents the problem a lot of people go through in this country. In 2016, people still fear that their community will not accept them due to the fact that they didn’t accept homosexuals, transgenders, etc. back then. All of my research on women’s daily struggles confirmed the way I thought about this controversy. I bought some books because I wanted to read how other women felt about this and how it had influenced other women and girls.
“A Little F’D up” was written by a 19-year-old who explained to the reader how mostly every place you go to, discriminates women. Work, home or just walking down the street can reflect the actions of most males in the country. I think that a book about gender inequality from someone at that age really shows the effect that women have on young adults.
Society has changed so much since the start of human rights activism. In the beginning, women were made to stay at home and take care of the kids while the male were to go out and make money for the family. Now, women have been fighting all around the world for their rights and for gender equality. Luscombe proved that women working can benefit the economy which will benefit the country and eventually benefit our relations with other countries. If we are all human, then we all should be treated the same. “We do as much. We eat as much. We want as much” (Truth). Through my exploration of these articles and Honor Girl, I confirmed my earlier view of promoting gender equality, but I also realized that inequality,is a more extensive issue that affects women politically, sexually and economically.
- Luscombe, Belinda. “It’s Actually Bad for Men to be Breadwinners”. TIME Magazine. TIME Magazine. August 19th, 2016.
- Jagannathan, Meera. "14 Quotes from First-Wave Feminists that still resonate". Readers Digest. Trusted Media Brands Inc. December 23rd, 2016.