Yes, All MEN are Created Equal

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Feb 18, 2016
by: meme2019
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Feminism (n.): the advocacy of women's rights on the grounds of political, social, and economic equality to men. In To Kill a Mockingbird, Scout not only struggles with what she feels a lady is supposed to be, but also what society views a lady as. Women have many more rights nowadays than in the ‘30’s, or any other point in history, but it is important to explore how things have changed or if they really have changed at all.

Women were fighting for equality beginning as far back as the Medieval time period. In some cultures during the 5th - 15th centuries, it was common for women to be kept in their home, not gain education, or be seen on the same social level as a slave. While they also had some control of the family’s wealth and were able to end a marriage if they did so choose, there was dispute on whether or not women were really as worthy of such tasks as men were (most commonly a debate in higher social classes). In the 18th century we start to see women’s rights movements emerging, one of the first being initiated by Abigail Adams for women to have equality in education. 1848, the Seneca Falls Women’s Rights Convention was held. Women wanted a legal voice, property rights, child custody rights, access to higher education, and the ability to actively participate in churches. Lucy Stone and Henry Blackwell were against laws that affected marriage in 1855, like ownership of real estate and choosing names. At the time To Kill a Mockingbird takes place, married women in particular were often criticized for working to help out the family during the Depression, rather than staying home and supporting their husbands, staying with the children, etc. During the 1960’s, the National Organization for Women fought for the issues in rights that kept women from having adequate social, political, and economic lives. Society lacked in providing women with representation in culture, political participation, and racial justice to women of color. In the 1980s we see one of the most recent changes in this field, where there was a large focus on women’s sexual presence, most prominently on eliminating trafficking and the exploitation of prostitutes (All taken from Johnson Lewis).

Today, women are fighting for the ability to get equal pay, fair treatment in the military, safety from sexual assault (i.e rape, trafficking, forced prostitution, and sexual harassment and misconduct), holding significant political positions, rights to dress/act as they please, and more. Throughout history, men were seen as more capable than women, for they had strength. This is exacerbated and clearly visible in the workplace. Women can have high positions in their fields, of which much more are available to them. Yet, still- we see clear favor towards a man, with only 4.6% of women holding executive positions, 24% in senior management roles, and around 20 out of 100 women having top positions in any company as of 2014, as according to an article written by Nikki van der Gaag on thegaurdian.com.

Other key issues to be explored, such as slut-shaming, sexual overexposure, and the expected dependence on men, are important in our world during the 21st century. I’d like to bring up a few cases showing the sexualization of women in particular. In 2014, a UFC fighter named Matt Brown started a podcast (available for listen on SoundCloud, by the way) that he titled “Legit ManS---”. As if such a name were not cringe-worthy enough, he proceeded to discuss in the very first episode how female fighters should wrestle with their breasts out because “...if I'm [going] to pay $60 for a Pay-Per-View to watch women fight, they should at least be topless.” Statements such as this show that women’s bodies, especially breasts, butts, and a ‘desirable amount of curves’, are seen as more relevant than their abilities. In commercials it is not uncommon to see women in their bathing suits, showing off themselves simply to sell beer or something of that sort, thus representing them as objects purely used to lure in men. Another example of objectification in the media is within shows such as The Bachelor, in which multiple women are all competing, essentially, to marry a man, a stranger, that they will most likely divorce in two months. Such programs are promoting the idea that women are almost accesories, pick-and-choose objects. While involvement is at the discretion of the participant, it still sheds a negative light on them, as the male in question is going through and toying with his 12 or so counterparts without care. Things like this make it seem okay to treat women as if they are little more than objects or items. Often times, women are depicted “playing football” in nothing but bras with attached shoulder pads and spandex shorts, also showing that they are nothing more than their bodies/sexual objects.

Feminism relates heavily to To Kill A Mockingbird because of how Scout acts versus how she is expected to act according to her gender. She fights, wears “manly” clothing, and is singled out by Jem for acting too much like a girl. Not only in Scout’s situation, but during the court case, it is said by the judge that “There has been a request, that this courtroom be cleared of spectators, or at least of women and children (Lee, 92)” when Mayella begins to get emotional over being raped. Asking the women to leave the room implies that rape is a topic that is unfit for them to hear, or one that they cannot handle.

Women’s oppression is a struggle we have yet to overcome in our world, one that threatens the safety of females everywhere. The idea that women are less than, or useless, that the only good thing to be said is for bodies or childbirth, is when the discrimination shows through, exposing us humans as the flawed beings we really are.

Comments

True Gender Equality?

21eatonh's picture
Submitted by 21eatonh on Fri, 2016-02-26 11:23.

Before I say anything, I just want to say that I agree with most of the main points of your essay. But he fact that no one ever complains about gender equality for men is, in fact, sexist. Now, I know what you're thinking. Gender equality for MEN? Men are treated better than women, and blah blah blah. This is true oftentimes. But consider. When was the last time you heard someone say "gentlemen first"? When was the last time you heard a woman get yelled at for hitting a man? And you've heard those old stories about how men throw their coats in mud puddles so women don't get their shoes dirty, right? (That's not just for the Queen of England!) Now, once more, I know what you're thinking. "That's chivalry!" Well, to that, I respond, " That's sexist!". It's true that men are often treated better than women, and that's not fair. But for true, equal, pure, gender equality, that idea of chivalry has to go. If, in the future, women are treated equal to men, but men still have to treat women with respect, women will have the upper hand. And THAT is sexist. So consider that next time you think about true gender equality.

Gender Equality

21mousoomm's picture
Submitted by 21mousoomm on Wed, 2016-03-30 20:53.

I absolutely agree with you, but perhaps its just the fact that things are much worse for women now. There are people talking about it and we do think it is unfair, but it is just a matter of equity. It is also important to note that in most situations, men are advantaged. For example, in the STEM field, there are more men because the women who like STEM are pressured by society to change their field.