Gender Inequality

In this day and age, many would say that we have reached a point of equality. They’d say that everyone has the exact same opportunity to excel as the next guy, no matter what. This is where they are very wrong, and they probably even know it. What one knows in their heart and what they will openly acknowledge to others are sometimes completely different things. I’m here to tell you about the various different ways in which women are not treated equally on a macro level, and maybe you can draw your own conclusion.

In Charles E. Hurst’s text, Janet Saltzman Chafetz describes a theory of sex stratification. She states that, throughout history, “women have not dominated men on a systematic and long-term basis, so that societies vary ‘from near equality to radical inequality favoring males” (pg. 131; Hurst E, Charles Social Inequality, 2013). Looking back in our society as a whole, there has never been a female president. In 1917, Jeannette Rankin became the first woman to enter the United States Congress (Historian). It wasn’t until the mid-1900’s when, finally, a woman (Ophelia Wyatt Caraway, 1932) was elected into the Senate (History.com). These are still temporary, short-term positions that those women held. The numbers of women who run large businesses in this country are extremely low, too. Most positions held by women are typically subordinate to a male. In Chafetz’s theory, she says that as long as women continue to fill subordinate roles in business and decision-making in general, the sex inequality will continue to flourish.

In the year 753 B.C., there was a law that allowed men to beat their wives due to the wives’ actions. The law said that the man was allowed to beat his wife with a rod, as long as the circumference was no greater or wider than his own thumb. This is said to have been the “Rule of Thumb” law, which is now a common phrase used, despite the disturbing origin. Often, women were told by priests and other male figures to try their best to be in the good graces of their husband. They were told to be obedient and devote themselves to their husbands, so as not to anger him and cause him to have to physically punish her. There was even a defense for the husbands who forced themselves on their wives. They were pardoned from their sexual assault because of the fact that they were married. It wasn’t until 1871 that (in one single state) abuse to one’s wife was made illegal, but it was many years after that other states followed suit.

It wasn’t until the mid-1930’s that women really got encouraged – or were deemed necessary – in the working industry. Up until then, it was illegal for a married woman to work (Westga.edu). It was said to be wrong for women to steal jobs from men, especially since they were supposed to be at home making babies.  During the Great Depression, many of the men were off to war, deeming it an absolute necessity for women to work for the companies that were no longer thriving. Up until that point, women were expected to stay at home and take care of the house and/or kids, while the husband was at work. The men were the breadwinners, and the women were the homemakers. After the Great Depression, around the early 1960’s, 40% of women had some kind of a job, based almost solely on necessity, of course (Rowen).

In 1942, the National War Labor Board encouraged employers to balance out the pay between their male and female employees (Rowen). Even after this request, the employers continued paying women peanuts and even pushed them out of their jobs once the veterans returned from the war. For those that did keep their jobs, they’d be lucky to get 59-64 cents for every dollar that their male coworkers would make, and there were even separate job listings based on sex in the paper. Finally, in 1963, the Equal Pay Act was passed. This would mean that women would get closer to an equal wage, but not equal. The employers could no longer justify the pay difference by giving different titles for the same job, and being a female could no longer be considered a drawback when interviewing or on general job openings.

In closing, because of our current patriarchal society, we still have a huge imbalance between men and women. This imbalance is clear in all areas: Work, home, advertising, music, and so on. The inequality may be less pronounced today, but it is still all around us, and therefore creates a huge problem on many accounts. Women outnumber men, but make less money. Women are still on a battlefield, each and every day, and what fixing that starts with is putting more women in positions of power. Lack of progress and continuity with the same route is the epitome of insanity, and shows us that we should make a huge change in leadership; at least to the point where it is all 50/50.Women need to put things just as much into perspective, if not more, than men.

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